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golf guide

Course ranks among Wisconsin’s best

By JERRY SLASKE
KeyMilwaukee.com Golf Editor

If you want a full-service golf club with excellent clubhouse, food, and banquet facilities…and, oh yes, a meticulously groomed course with bent-grass tee to green, and greens second to none (running at about 11 when I played them recently and truer than the Bible), but without the sticker shock, then Whispering Springs Golf Club in Fond du Lac is the place to go.

Without a doubt, this is southeastern Wisconsin’s – if not all of Wisconsin’s – best-kept secret and value. (Note to anyone coming to the state for the 2015 PGA at Whistling Straits or the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills, plan on playing Whispering Springs while you’re here. It’s only about an hour from each of these courses, and about 65 minutes north of Milwaukee.)

With five sets of tees measuring between 5,200 and 7,000 yards, everyone can enjoy this course. But it’s certainly no pushover. A bit of brawn and brains go a long way here.

Whispering Springs’ front nine is somewhat of a links-style with water and sand on six and eight of the nine respectively. Greenside bunkers guard seven of the holes.

Six of the holes on the back nine – the older of the nines – are wooded and lined with homes – none of which are obtrusive, except if you stray too far right on number 12, a downhill narrow par 4 (430 yards from the back tees). Water comes into play on two of the holes and all nine have greenside bunkers with fairway bunkers on six holes.

This is definitely a shotmaker’s paradise. Except on a couple holes, don’t expect to be able to roll the ball onto the green. You have to hit the green or pay the penalty of sand, water, and in several cases, a false front or caroms off steep banks. For the most part, the greens slope from back to front, but there is plenty of undulation in between.

Every hole in the Whispering Springs bunch is solid, but numbers 9 and 18 standout from the rest. In fact, I wouldn’t be too bold in saying these are two of the best finishing holes you’ll find anywhere. You can shoot a terrible score overall, but if you play these two holes well, you come away feeling like you’re ready for the Tour.

Number 9 is a long narrow par 4 (445 yards from the backs) with a relatively benign green, but one that is protected by water on the right and sand on the left. A lone stately hickory tree punctures the center of the fairway about 300 yards from the tee. Be long and favor the right center with your tee shot. This is one hole where you can roll the ball onto the green, assuming it’s right up the center.

At least by today’s standards, number 18 is a relatively short par 5 (529 yards from the backs). Nevertheless, it’s devilish. The fairway is tree-lined – almost chute-like off the tee – sloping right to left toward a creek and rising slightly to a dogleg about 125 yards from the green, which is fronted by water and bunkers. Long hitters can go for the shallow wide green in two. Good luck to them. The rest of us mortals should layup on top of the rise about 100-125 yards from the green. But be careful because there’s a large bunker up there at just about that distance. I know because I found it with what I thought was a perfect second shot.

Several other favorites include number 2, the longest hole on the course at 576 yards from the back tees that has trees, sand, and water everywhere; number 14, a short par 4 (350 yards from the backs) that requires pinpoint accuracy; number 17, a par 4 (407 yards from the backs) through a chute of trees that demands exacting distance off the tee to the dogleg right so that you have a clear shot to a raised green.

As I write this, the peak summer rates are $32 walking and $49 riding; it’s even less if you’re a senior (60+) or 20 years of age or under. How do they do it? I don’t care. All I want to do is play golf at a great course without breaking the budget. And Whispering Springs is it.

For more info, visit whisperingspringsgolf.com or phone 920-921-8053.


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