The Badger State has long been a great golf escape, thanks to Blackwolf Run, SentryWorld and PGA Championship host Whistling Straits. Here are four more must-plays in Wisconsin.
1. Erin Hills, Erin ($245; 866-772-4769, erinhills.com)
This nine-year-old Michael Hurdzan–Dana Fry design, with Ron Whitten consulting, will host the 2017 U.S. Open (it also served as a compelling venue for the 2011 U.S. Amateur), but it somehow remains vastly overshadowed. Situated 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, Erin Hills occupies a massive, topsy-turvy spread of ridges, dunes and fescue grasses that lends a linksy, Ireland-in-the-Heartland ambience. But no Emerald Isle course stretches to 7,812 yards as this one does.
2. Lawsonia (Links), Green Lake ($35-$90; 920-294-3320, lawsonia.com)
It’s a pretty good bet that architecture buffs are the only people who’ve ever heard of William Langford and Theodore Moreau, the gents who sculpted the state’s best bargain. No matter. During their 1920s heyday, they blended design characteristics of both Donald Ross and Seth Raynor, and the result here is a rolling, mostly treeless layout (hence the “Links” misnomer), although one that features a fabulous set of deep bunkers and elevated greens.
3. University Ridge, Verona ($39-$92; 608-845-7700, universityridge.com)
Robert Trent Jones Jr. crafted this spread in 1989 for the University of Wisconsin, just minutes from campus. Following a 2008 renovation from Jones and his then associate Jay Blasi (a proud UW alum), it rose to the head of the class of elite college courses. Superior conditioning, a beguiling blend of open and parkland holes, solid bunkering and risk-reward options make this a college course worth repeating.
4. Whistling Straits (Irish), Sheboygan ($190; 800-618-5535, americanclubresort.com)
Compared with its older, brawnier brother, the Straits—which hosts the PGA Championship this month—the Irish is clearly the overlooked sibling. It shouldn’t be. Ranked No. 79 in our Top 100 Courses You Can Play, the delightful Irish is blanketed with bunkers, streams and gigantic man-made dunes. Although a smattering of wetlands and parkland holes intrude on the faux Emerald Isle experience, any lack of authenticity is made up for by heroic, testing holes.