With all due respect to my adopted state of California, where I’ve lived the past twenty-seven years, it’s my opinion that for every great course here, I can think of at least two in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area, where I was born and raised. And that doesn't include famous Wisconsin resort courses like Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, not because they aren't excellent but because they weren't around when I lived there.
I’m talking about old Wisconsin golf, which is distinguished by narrow rolling fairways lined with trees, not houses; and small, undulating greens that call for precise approaches and a razor-sharp short-game. That describes Brown County Golf Course in Green Bay as well as Brown Deer Golf Club in Milwaukee, which were once the subject of an ongoing debate among golfers from both cities regarding which of the two was the better public track. My vote always went to Brown County, where as a kid I learned to play and as a teenager I worked in the cart barn, washed dishes, swept the locker room and did a hundred other jobs. How highly do I think of the place?At TaylorMade-adidas Golf we name our conference rooms after great courses: Torrey Pines, Pinehurst, St. Andrews, etc. The executive boardroom?It’s called Brown County.
As for the very best golf course in the Milwaukee area, there’s Milwaukee Country Club and there’s the rest. Prestigious and private, it’s a course that few people can say they've played. Opened in 1894, it’s a collaboration between H. S. Colt (who assisted George Crump in the creation of Pine Valley) and C. H. Allison. How good is MCC?Jim Flick, the world-renowned instructor who now teaches out of TaylorMade-adidas Golf headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., lists Milwaukee Country Club in his top five courses in the world. I’ve played it only once, but I can tell you that any authentic golfer who values design that makes great wide use of the natural lay of the land will love it.
A slew of additional venues merits mention in any discussion of the best of Wisconsin golf: North Hills Country Club, opened in the late 1920s and known for its undulating greens and multitude of difficult pin positions; Lawsonia Golf Links, with its tree-lined fairways, small greens and proficient use of the terrain; and Blue Mound Country Club, designed by Seth Raynor and opened in 1924, a short but sublime layout that hosted the 1933 PGA Championship.
However, my choice for the finest golf course in the state is Stevens Point Country Club, 155 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Designed by Lawrence Packard, it opened in 1925. Its narrow fairways are lined by dense forests of pines with a thick carpet of pine straw on the ground beneath them. Every hole is challenging, picturesque and distinctly different from the rest. I remember competing there as a freshman in the state high school championship and later in the State Amateur during the mid-1970s. It’s a special course—one of many in the great state of Wisconsin.
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