Barton Creek Resort and Spa – Austin, Texas Hill Country Gem

Barton Creek Resort and Spa is one of Texas’ top rated golf resorts and for very good reason. This beautiful property, just minutes northwest of downtown Austin, lies in the rolling wooded Hill Country of Texas and boasts access to four great golf courses. Two Tom Fazio designed championship layouts anchor the golf experience and are backed up with a Ben Crenshaw track and an Arnold Palmer designed course as well.

Just outside the front door of the resort lie the Tom Fazio Foothills course and the Ben Crenshaw Cliffside layout. Just a 5 minute free shuttle ride away is the second Fazio gem named the Canyons. A bit further out is the Arnold Palmer Lakeside course along beautiful Lake Travis. Combined, these four layouts provide an ever changing and challenging test for golfers of all abilities.

This trip I played the Foothills, Canyons and Cliffside courses which share the rolling landscape of the Barton Creek area. This wooded and hilly terrain is reminiscent of the interior holes of Spyglass Hill near Pebble Beach as well as the mature northern forests of Minnesota’s Grand View Lodge or the amazing Lake Tahoe layouts of Coyote Moon and Schaffer’s Mill.

Tom Fazio Foothills and Canyon gems

The Fazio Foothills and Canyon courses feature remarkable elevation changes, fairly tight fairways, lightning fast greens and an array of hazards whose beauty belie their danger. Dry creek beds, running water, arroyos, canyons, limestone cliffs and caves, waterfalls and ever changing terrain are just some of the natural challenges Fazio has incorporated into his layouts.

While the two Fazio tracks share similar feel and terrain the courses play quite differently. Head Golf Professional Justin Kutz probably explained it best when he said “The fairways of the Canyons course tend to fall off on the sides while those on the Foothills course tend to filter the ball back onto the fairway.” I found this to be exactly right. Wayward shots on the Canyons course often rolled off the short grass and down into canyons, creeks, trees or worse. The Foothills layout was more forgiving in this regard but I found the fairways felt a bit narrower.

Both tracks featured numerous greens fronted by water requiring all or none carries to the safety of the putting surfaces. These watery hazards took the form of small running creeks, deep natural gorges cut from limestone and even distracting waterfalls tumbling alongside the greens. Two of my favorite holes were the 8th and 9th on the Foothills.

The Par 5 eighth hole starts at an elevated tee high above a fairly wide fairway protected on the left by a large pond and on the right by the ever present woods. From here the hole narrows considerably with a creek running down the entire left side and trees pinching the right side all the way to the green. If you have safely made it this far in two, your approach shot to the green must avoid the deep chasm left of the green where the creek falls into a deep abyss. This is a great golf hole. The Par 3 ninth is probably the signature Par 3 of all the courses. Again, an elevated tee gives you a great view of the hole and its many challenges. A smallish green angles away from you and is guarded on the front and left by a waterfall that tumbles into the same chasm that guards the eighth green. Amazing!

Crenshaw Cliffside course

The Crenshaw designed Cliffside course could not be more different than the Fazio layouts. Here the fairways are very wide with generous landing areas and fewer hazards. It is more of a links style. Yet, whatever advantage is gained off the tee is taken away by some of the largest and most undulating putting surfaces you will ever play. Finding the wrong part of these greens makes two putting heroic, three putting common and four putts not out of the question.

The Resort

Besides the four golf courses, Barton Creek Resort and Spa features every amenity you would expect from a world class resort. A full fitness center with an indoor pool, running track and exercise rooms are a great way to start your day. The full service spa offers treatments of every kind. In addition, there are numerous dining options, an excellent tennis center, nature trail, miniature golf and first class rooms and service. Be sure to give Justin Kutz and his golf staff a warm hello and tell them I look forward to seeing them again soon.

Old Corkscrew Golf Club – Southwest Florida’s Nicklaus Tour de Force

Old Corkscrew Golf Club is the latest Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course to spring from the grounds of southwest Florida. This championship layout is perhaps the finest public course in the area if you are looking to challenge every aspect of your game.

Old Corkscrew is located inland from the resorts and beaches of nearby Naples, Fort Myers and Bonita Springs. It is just a half hour drive from the Fort Myers international airport but feels as if you have entered a world unseen by most southwest Florida golfers (or anyone for that matter). The drive in to Old Corkscrew takes you deep into the forests and uninhabited interior wilderness and far away from the hustle, bustle and developments known to most area visitors. There are no homes on the course and the feel here is more like that of being in the middle of the Everglades.

What You Will Find

This Audobon International certified property winds through an amazing array of waterways, cypress, pine and oak trees and abuts a seemingly endless expanse of citrus groves. The Audobon designation is meant to “assist golf courses and golf course developments in providing wildlife habitat, protecting water quality, and improving overall environmental performance” and it does this in spades. Don’t be surprised to see egrets and herons fishing while being watched by alligators (or were they crocodiles) sunning themselves on the banks of the course’s waters. Talk about a hazard!

I got to play my round with former NHL goalie Don Edwards who now serves as Old Corkscrew’s Director of Sales and Marketing. Don is an exceptional player and the perfect guide as we navigated the ever changing array of holes. The course has a few open holes like those at nearby Tiburon  and Raptor Bay but the majority wind themselves through a wooded wonderland of white sand bunkers, doglegs of every direction and an outstanding collection of par 3’s. The variety of hole designs is this course's strength and is also what differentiates it from the typical Florida golf course.

Awards and Recognition

Opened in 2007, Old Corkscrew has already garnered many coveted awards and recognitions including:

  • Best Course That You Can Play That You Have Never Heard Of - Golf Magazine, 2011
  • One of America’s Best New Courses in 2007 - Golf Digest
  • Southwest Florida’s # 1 Best Course You Can Play - Golf Magazine 2010
  • 2008 Florida Golf Course of the Year - National Golf Course Owners Association of America

It is also has been the host site for:

  • 2011 (and 2012) Qualifying Site - ACE Group Championship – PGA Champions Tour
  • USGA – 2010 Sectional Amateur Qualifier
  • USGA – 2009 Sectional Open Qualifier
  • FSGA – 2008 Florida State Amateur Championship
  • FSGA – 2007 Florida State Senior Open

I highly urge you to take the time to visit and play Old Corkscrew. The course conditions are amazing, the practice facilities excellent and the greens are as challenging as any I have played. If you are lucky enough to reside in the area, Old Corkscrew also offers an array of membership and loyalty programs for individuals and corporations. This is a top notch and challenging venue and a welcome escape from the typical area golf courses, gated communities and resorts.

Tiburon – Greg Norman’s 36 Hole Naples, Florida Masterpiece

Southwest Florida is one of the country’s premier golf and resort destinations and Tiburon is one of the finest in the area.

Tiburon is a WCI Community development that features a Ritz Carlton Resort as well as luxurious family homes on some of the finest manicured grounds you will ever see. While the 295 room Ritz and the phenomenal 27,000 square foot Mediterranean inspired clubhouse are impressive to say the least, the anchor here is the two championship Norman golf courses.


Tiburon is home to the annual Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout. Every December an elite group of only 24 PGA Tour players compete for over $2 million in prize money. Both the Gold and Black courses are challenging to say the least. The tournament hosting Gold Course measures over 7,200 yards with a rating and slope of 74.7 and 137. The Black course is certainly no slouch and just over 7,000 yards and with a 74.2 rating and a mind blowing slope of 147.

Both courses are somewhat typical of golf in southern Florida. Elevation changes are at a bare minimum while water, sand and waste areas are ever present hazards. The geography is similar to many of its neighboring layouts like Jack Nicklaus’ new championship layout at Old Corkscrew or the Raptor Bay Golf Club located at the Hyatt Coconut Point resort. What is not similar is the incredible beauty of the community. From the flower lined lanes, soaring palms and all the way to the impressive circular drive at the clubhouse you know no expense has been spared. I felt like a visiting pro being led to an amazing sanctuary of golf and relaxation.

What Norman brought to Tiburon’s courses was a natural routing through and around an assortment of marshes, forestd, lakes and an ever changing assortment of wildlife. Other unique features are to be found throughout the 36 hole layout. Bunkers may have sod walls and waste areas are made from crushed coquina shells. The rough is generally not very rough as it has been replaced greenside with tightly mown areas like we see at Augusta National. This makes for very tricky short game play with plenty of options for running the ball on the ground if needed.

Other Activities

Ritz Carlton Resort guests have the use of the nearby Ritz Naples beach property as well. For those who have never been to the Naples area, it has some of the nicest sand beaches, best restaurants and enough outdoor activities to satisfy everyone. Golfers and non-golfers alike have endless choices for fun. From fishing, snorkeling and paddling the ocean to spa days, beach running and shell hunting; this area is an outdoor enthusiast’s mecca.

From Sanibel and Fort Myers to the north to nearby Bonita Springs and then Marco Island to the south, the Naples area of southwest Florida will keep you coming back not only for Tiburon’s golf but for the areas amazing array of vacation possibilities. It truly is a place worth visiting.

The Phoenician – Scottsdale Super Resort Stands The Test Of Time

Located on 250 prime acres at the base of Camelback Mountain is a desert oasis known as The Phoenician. This is one of Phoenix and Scottsdale’s original grand resorts. And by grand I mean soaring public spaces both inside and out with incredible fountains, flowers and landscaping throughout the entire property. The Phoenician is now home to 27 holes of golf, a tennis center, spa and a seemingly endless array of pools, dining options and activities.

The Golf

The golf course has its own clubhouse and it is just a short walk from the main lobby. This large and beautiful building houses a well stocked pro shop, the golf locker rooms and the Relish Burger Bistro (on the second floor with commanding views of the course).

The Phoenician offers three separate nines each with a slightly different personality. The Desert nine is known for its elevation changes and the great views that it offers. The Par 3’s here are fun if you consider dramatic drop offs from tee to green entertaining. The Oasis nine is a more traditional tree lined layout. It has a more refined look than the rugged Desert nine and less terrain change. The Canyon nine is almost a mix of the two other nines. It rolls through the hills at the base of Camelback Mountain and is beautifully landscaped as well.

The Resort

Everything here is grand. A long curved drive brings you past fountains, flowers, the golf course and portions of the resort before it ends at the circular entryway. Everything here is ornate from the waterfalls, to the enormous glass enclosed lobby and on to the multi-tiered array of pools, cabanas and utter relaxation.

Maybe afternoon formal tea time is your style? They have it here. Perhaps a rubdown at the spa? Done! Hiking? Cactus Garden? Boutique shops? Yes, yes and absolutely. And this is just a hint of all the activities in and around the resort.

Other than golf, my favorite things to do were:

  • relax by one of the many pools and whirlpools late in the afternoon when the crowds were gone
  • walk the paths around the beautiful grounds in the cool morning air with a fresh cup of coffee
  • enjoy fireside drinks, coffee and dessert under starry skies from the upper terrace right before  bedtime

While The Phoenician is not a mega-resort in the mold of the newer JW Marriot Desert Ridge or Westin Kierland it is a sophisticated and elegant resort in the tradition of the Arizona Biltmore and Hyatt Gainey Ranch.  For the discriminating traveler or those wanting a once in a lifetime escape, The Phoenician is an excellent choice. It’s location just blocks from the heart of Scottsdale and its great on-site amenities makes this a must stop oasis in the desert.

Vacation Time – One is a Golfer One Isn’t – Now What

You are in luck. Of the many questions I get, this is one of the easiest to answer. First, let me just say this; many of the great golf resorts and courses also happen to be in some of the most scenic locations in the world. Second, opportunities abound for the non-golfer including world class spas, hiking, biking, rafting, fishing and so much more.

Spas and Golf

Great golf resorts go hand in hand with great spas and offer both golfers and non-golfers vacations of a lifetime. Whether it’s The Spa at Pebble Beach or at the The Greenbrier in West Virginia, there is no shortage of phenomenal golf paired with equally popular pampering and relaxation. Certainly it would be hard to beat a stay at the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin. This Midwest resort is not only home to the acclaimed Whisling Straits golf courses it also boasts the Kohler Waters Spa. Yet, for every well known resort such as the Broadmoor, Pinehurst or The Phoenician there are many more and lesser known hideaways.

From the woods of northern Minnesota’s Grand View Lodge to the shores of Cabo San Lucas, a day of golf followed by an afternoon of rest, relaxation and a massage is hard to beat. What could be better than hitting the links while your spouse hits the whirlpool, aroma steam room and yoga class?

Outdoor Activities

Golf resorts worldwide abut some of the finest natural surroundings on the planet. The Lake Tahoe area is home to some of the finest hiking, camping and skiing in the country. Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and the islands of the Caribbean and Bahamas abound with world class fishing – both deep sea and shallow water flats fishing. Would you rather be in the water than on the water? Many of these sites were renowned for their snorkeling, scuba and amazing beaches long before they even offered golf.

Feeling a bit more daring? Maybe a day of white water rafting, jeep touring, hot air ballooning or riding a zip line is in your future. These are just a very few of the near endless variety of activities available if you were to be golfing in Aspen, Tucson, Sedona or Vail.

Family Fun

Golf resorts are now synonymous with activities for the entire family. From the youngest children to the senior golfer, today’s resorts offer an adventure for every member of the family and for every level of activity. While Mom is on the golf course and Dad is at the spa, the kids are at supervised pool play or off biking on a guided tour of the surrounding hillsides, desert or ocean shores. Check out the options next time you are planning a trip. You will be glad you did and so will your family.

An Arm and a Leg and a Lot of Scratch

Can someone please tell me why in the world it costs $4 to play a top-line golf ball? How much more goes into it, other than advertising, compared to balls at $1 apiece. I know, I know, there is a somewhat linear relation between cost and quality. But then shouldn’t my $3 ball also go a lot further than your $1 cheapo rock of a ball? You mean I paid three to four times as much for balls that still: don’t avoid sand, live for the forest, go only 10 yards further and don’t know how to swim or find their way home? Are you kidding me?

And what about those SUV sized $500 drivers? For you discriminating amateurs out there I recommend you be an early adopter. While there is no doubt that the extra 5 or 6 yards would be:

  1. Your least cost effective
  2. Fastest depreciating
  3. Most treasured investment
  4. All of the above

…..I still say wait a year, get one at the consignment shop and remember…..keep your day job. How do you think you are going to pay for all this stuff?


It’s not just the balls and metal woods (is that an oxymoron?) whose cost has risen faster than my standard of living. What about clothing? If I wanted to look like Adam Scott, Ian Poulter or Rickie Fowler (oh the visual) it would cost me a week’s pay or more. I can’t afford to be that handsome. Hey Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, and Natalie Gulbis…we have to pay for our stuff. Can you get a clothing contract for me and my foursome please? We’re looking a bit tattered lately.

Green Fees

While we’re ranting, what about those green fees? Top notch desert layouts fetch nearly $300 in prime season. Pebble Beach nearly double that. And imagine the nerve; none of these include a caddy, drinks, Cuban Cigar, rooting section, limo or even a masseur. I have no trouble with a $500 round of golf but shouldn’t one expect a few of these basic perks? How about providing the ever popular “On course ridicule of your group by revered announcer extraordinaire Johnny Miller”?

All kidding aside, let’s keep some sanity in regards to all the costs of playing the game. Our economic times have taken care of sky high green fees and mortgage sized initiation dues. Yet, equipment costs are higher than ever. Anyway, there are great deals on green fees and vacations all over. This is a great time to support your local golf course and get in an extra round or two with the savings.

Final Thought

When investing in new irons can cost $500, $1,000 or more, shouldn’t we be able to take, or rent, a set for a few rounds before we purchase? So few places have this service. Hitting some shots in a cage in a strip mall or a dome in the dead of a Minnesota winter is not the best way to purchase a non-refundable investment.  Entrepeneurs?

Ventana Canyon – Distinguished Desert Hideaway

Just north of Tucson, nestled against the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, awaits a wonderfully luxurious old school golf resort and spa – Loews Ventana Canyon.

While not on the ocean like Pebble Beach, or nearly as large as the enormous Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, this resort’s is a hidden gem. The terrain has the feel of Troon North in Scottsdale or the Vista Vallarta golf course in Puerto Vallarta. The resort itself may conjure up visions of classic American resorts such as the Arizona Biltmore, also up the road in Scottsdale.

Don’t be misled, this is a modern, up to date, “has it all resort”. By “old school” I simply nod to the architecture, beautiful grounds, not too big size (398 rooms), friendly staff, and excellent service. Swimming pools are large yet peaceful with no waterparks or man-made rivers in sight. Add on two Tom Fazio designed championship golf courses, a tennis center, spa, excellent dining options and you have just begun to experience all there is to do here.

Ventana Canyon is only a 30 minute drive from the Tucson airport but a world away as you climb north from the desert floor into the Catalina foothills. Ventana Canyon begins as the road is about to end at the base of the mountains.  Loews at Ventana Canyon sits nearly camouflaged as you approach its commanding site high above the Tucson valley.

The Golf

The Loews Ventana Canyon resort shares the Mountain and Canyon golf courses with the private Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club. Play is alternated each day between the two courses. I highly recommend you play them both.

The courses are blessed with a great site including elevation changes, arroyos, rock outcroppings, trees, cacti, lakes and myriads of other distractions and attractions. The Mountain Course has its famous Hole #3, a 105 yard Par 3, with a tee shot over a ravine to a green that looks to be no bigger than your average backyard swimming pool. My favorite might be the next hole, the Par 5 fourth. From the elevated hillside tee, a swooping dogleg left beckons. Desert and sand guard the corner. The second shot offers no breather as the fairway narrows and water now comes into play. This liquid disaster guards the entire right side all the way through the green. Great hole!

The Canyon Course is equally challenging as it rolls around and through its many ravines, hillsides, cactus and undulating terrain. There are many fun holes and a really nice collection of 3 Pars. The Canyon Course culminates just below the resort lobby where an island green, complete with waterfall and even a few spectators, lays waiting at the end of this challenging Par 5 finishing hole.

The extras

Besides great golf, the resort has the intimate Lakeside Spa (with its own private pool and Jacuzzi), exercise classes, tennis center and a fitness path that meanders between the golf courses. The Flying V Bar and Grill is just one of the resorts dining options. It occupies the top floor of the spa building and offers amazing views of the 18th hole and the valley below. Dinner here is resort casual yet sophisticated and the guacamole made table side is amazing. Nearby hiking and biking trails are just the start to the myriad of outdoor activities in the area.

Loews Ventana Canyon is just minutes from the excellent shopping, dining and entertainment found throughout this modern north side of Tucson. Be sure to visit Shlomo and Vito’s New York Deli and Gavi’s Italian restaurant. Tell them Gordy sent you.

All in all this is one of my favorite spots for great golf, peace and quiet, as well as all the other amenities one might need for a great vacation.

TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Golf, The Rowdiest Hole and You

Certainly you have seen the famed Par 3 sixteenth hole at the TPC Stadium Course in Scottsdale, Arizona. Annually it hosts the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open where the pros must negotiate the most daunting 160 yard arena in golf. But more on that later.

The TPC Scottsdale complex is made up of two courses, the tournament hosting Stadium Course and its not so little sister the Champions Course. The adjacent Fairmont Princess resort is one of the finest in all of Phoenix. Together they combine to form one of the best golf/spa resort destinations in the country.

The Golf

My initial visit to The Stadium Course was over 20 years ago. It was the first time I had played a golf course that was host to a PGA Tour event. I returned this year to find the layout just as I remembered it. Carved from nothing, this open Links style layout has matured into a good test of golf for all levels of players.

Most holes offer generous fairways off the tee but trouble abounds should you miss the short grass. The putting surfaces have always been above average both in speed and condition. Like almost all Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish designs, you will find a great mix of holes and often a drivable Par 4 like the 332 yard 17th hole.

But the most famous hole is the Par 3 16th. At only 160 yards, distance is not the main concern here during tournament week. Tuning out the thousands of spectators sitting in grandstands that line nearly the entire hole is the major obstacle here. When you tee it up, the stands and the fans will be gone. Yet, imagine the throngs, silent for a split second while you swing then bursting into cries of “You’re the man” and “It’s in the hole” ala Tiger Woods ace during the 1997 event. Memorable!

While the Stadium Course gets all the accolades, The Champions Course is no slouch. The holes here are much narrower than on the Stadium Course and the greens more severe. Keeping the ball in play is a bit more difficult making accuracy off the tee crucial for good scoring. Approach shots need to be well planned as being on the wrong level on some of these greens is a three putt in waiting.

The Resort

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a large upscale resort with every imaginable amenity and luxury. From the Willow Stream Spa to the tennis complex and fine dining at Bourbon Steak or The Hacienda restaurants, this resort has it all. Accommodations range from oversize rooms all the way to generous casita living. Like the nearby Phoenician, Westin Kierland and JW Marriott Desert Ridge resorts, this is another fine example of today's world class resorts.

The Fairmont's pool areas are large beautiful spaces that front part of the Stadium Course. It is here, on the fourth hole right by the main pool, where your author recorded a hole in one the year the course opened. I have fond memories and a slight bias for this place.

Sundara – World Class Spa in the Wisconsin Dells

Heaven on earth may be hiding in the Wisconsin Dells, disguised as Sundara, a luxury destination spa. An area long known as the water and amusement park capital of the world now offers a first class retreat for discriminating adults.

Sundara is part of the Wilderness Resort family of properties. It lies concealed in the woods just north of the main Wilderness Resort and shares the site with a championship golf course, Wild Rock. The secluded setting is the antithesis to the normal Dells experience.

The resort is comprised of a luxurious main building and stand-alone villas. The main building contains the spa, a 3 story dining rotunda and  luxury suites. Suites feature a fireplace, king size feather bed, writing desk, Sundara bath products and Kohler fixtures which rain, mist and shower you in water.

The Spa itself occupies most of the main floor. Upon checking in, a staff member will take you on a brief tour of the facilities. You will be assigned a locker for the day and if it is your first visit to Sundara, they will explain the bathing ritual to you. After the tour, I returned to the locker room to begin my day of rest and relaxation. Separate women’s and men’s locker rooms have private showers and changing areas, complimentary bath products and an endless supply of thick, cushy towels.  From there, the ritual begins.

Step One: change into your bathing suit and step into the Purifying Bath Ritual area. This intimate, cathedral-like room leads you through the multi-step ritual. In the center is a large whirlpool bath. Shower enclosures and a steam room occupy the perimeter. Step Two is a warm rinse in one of the small shower alcoves where you polish your skin with exfoliating sand. Step Three, the steam room, to cleanse your pores and relax. Step Four, another rainfall shower to rinse clean. Step Five offers you a choice: a dip in a cool water pool or a hot water whirlpool. Whichever you choose, the idea is to alternate between them for the best effect.

If you plan to stay awake or care to nap, the Quiet Room and the outdoor pool area are next. In the Quiet Room you can enjoy complimentary coffee and juice along with fruits and trail mix while you doze or read while overlooking the pool just outside. The outdoor area is the perfect place to sun, swim and nap. The infinity edged pool appears to flow into an adjacent water feature. Small alcoves built into the pool offer locations for rest and quiet conversation. A large whirlpool is located on the pool deck. Completing the space is an outdoor bar serving lunch and snacks, and a gas firepit for evening gatherings.

Spa services are abundant. I opted for a massage. The service was excellent. From choosing your own scent for the oil, to the level of massage pressure, this was a blissful time of relaxation. After a full day of bathing, napping and massage it was time to go back to our room.

On this trip we stayed in a private villa. Our unit had over 900 square feet that included a high-end kitchen, separate sleeping room and an amazing vaulted spa room overlooking the Wild Rock golf course.

The kitchen featured stainless appliances, slate floors, cherry cabinets and granite counters complete with dishes and utensils. Next, a modern and spacious sleeping room. It was large and beautiful with curved wet bar, flat screen TV and the most comfortable feather bedding you could imagine.

French doors led to the best surprise yet, an even bigger room that resembled a modern day beach hut. This oasis had a barrel vaulted cedar ceiling with walls of windows in all directions. The highlight? A 2 person whirlpool with underwater mood lighting. For good measure, throw in a writing desk, bistro table and two cushy chairs with ottomans.

Sundara has set a new standard for Wisconsin Dells luxury accommodations and pampering. I can’t wait to return and in the mean time, I am thinking of keeping this gem as my own little secret.

Wild Rock Golf Club – Championship Play in the Wisconsin Dells

If you are coming to the Wisconsin Dells and have time to golf, then a round at Wild Rock Golf Club should be on your agenda. Part of the Wilderness Resort, Wild Rock opened in the spring of 2009 and is claiming its place as the best the Dells has to offer.

First of all, this is championship caliber golf at a first rate venue. The course can be stretched to over 7,400 yards in length for the pros among you. Numerous tee boxes offer a fun round for all players with the forward tees coming in at just over 5,100 yards.

The look of this golf course is big, broad and brawny. The layout actually encompasses three distinct and unique environments. The first and last few holes were once farm land and while not flat, they are nothing like what you will find on the middle holes. There, the course takes a turn into the hills and offers some of the most outstanding views and golf shots you will ever see or have to hit. There is nothing better than soaring tee boxes looking out over emerald fairways and greens lying far below. If you survive the elevation changes and intoxicating scenery you are then deposited in a stone quarry for a couple of holes. Claw your way through here and you will enjoy the final holes back to the clubhouse.

The layout has some very consistent design features while still providing eighteen unique and very interesting holes. Three things stand out in my mind. First, most fairways start out as wide as landing strips, offering generous play off the tees provided you avoid the ever present pot bunkers that guard the landing areas. These wide and forgiving landing areas were meant to aid the average golfer while challenging the better golfer to hit a tee shot to the preferred side of the fairway. Second, and by leaps and bounds my favorite part of the design, is the natural feel and look of the entire course. Great attention was paid to make the course blend seamlessly into its natural environment. Almost all of the holes are lined with long Fescue grass acting as a Bermuda Triangle for errant shots. Sand traps feature ragged edges and irregular shapes and look as if they somehow eroded into their current locations. Finally, the green complexes are stunning. Many are well bunkered and most are undulating with multiple choices for great pin locations. If you love the short game and putting then you will absolutely have the time of your life at Wild Rock.

All in all this is one of the better resort courses in the Midwest. The property has a beautiful new clubhouse, excellent driving range and a north woods feel to the entire setting. And if you really want to end your day in style, the renowned Sundara Spa is right next door and is a world class facility on its own. Good golf is now abundant at the Wisconsin Dells and Wild Rock has upped the ante by providing a truly great golf experience for all those lucky enough to seek it out.

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