Hi everyone, I hope you enjoyed my first entry last week about my hometown, Auburndale. It was cool to share some things about a place that I am so familiar with and a place that has such a special meaning to me, even if it might be off the beaten path in terms of notoriety. Hopefully you watched our game last Sunday at Philadelphia; it was great to come home with a win.
When I thought about what I wanted to cover next, I shifted my thinking to some of my hobbies and from there, it was almost as obvious as making Auburndale my first pick. I needed to write about golf.
With the PGA Championship having just been played at Whistling Straits last month, I felt like a lot people in the state had kind of caught “golf fever” and there was a lot of buzz about the event, particularly with the controversial way in which it ended. With it still being a relatively hot topic, I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my own experiences from what is my personal favorite course, and a few of the others that I have had the pleasure of playing.
When it comes to the climate in Wisconsin, we all know the cold weather of winter will be here before long and it already seems like the daylight is becoming more sparse with each passing day. I think part of what makes me appreciate golf so much more is the fact that we don’t get the number of days during the year to really enjoy it like people in more tropical climates. The good news is, it’s not entirely cold yet and there is still time to get in some quality rounds. Maybe just pack a windbreaker :-).
While the elements are still moderately under control, I would suggest going to one of the beautiful courses in either the Kohler or Sheboygan area. Whistling Straits is probably the most well-known course that comes to mind, and is regarded by many as the best one in the state, but there is also The Irish course (on the Straits property) and then obviously Blackwolf Run, which is also in Kohler. As I mentioned, the PGA Championship was at Whistling Straits for the second time this past August and it will host the Women’s U.S. Open in 2012 and the PGA Championship once again in 2015. In 2020, it will host what is probably the most competitive and meaningful international golf tournament, the Ryder Cup.
Here’s another course that might be a little more obscure right now and isn’t necessarily in the Kohler or Sheboygan area but is definitely worth playing: Erin Hills, in the small town of Erin near Hartford, just beyond the northwest suburbs of Milwaukee. This course is fairly new, having just opened in 2006, but it has already captured the attention of the PGA and was recently awarded the bid to host the 2017 U.S. Open.
Another great course is The Bull in Sheboygan, which is also one of my favorite places to get in a round. The Bull is probably my favorite for a variety of reasons, but among the most important is that it has hosted the annual TRIFECTA (Tauscher’s Reading Initiative For Every Child To Achieve) Foundation golf outing. The tournament has been a huge success over the past five years and has generated more than $110,000 to benefit literacy and education in our state. I couldn’t mention the outing without giving credit to Dave and Brenda Bachmann, owners of The Bull, because they put in a tremendous amount of time with the setup and preparation for the event. They are great people and I can’t thank them enough for their help.
But enough about the golf outing and a little more about the course itself. It is a Jack Nicklaus-designed course, which should give you an idea of how difficult the layout is. With the black tees playing over 7,300 yards, it is a challenge for an amateur like me to shoot a decent score. That shouldn’t deter you from playing at The Bull though, because there are five sets of tees in all to choose from. Even though it is difficult, the scenery is absolutely stunning, with the rolling hills and perfectly placed bunkers and ponds.
One memory that instantly comes to mind is the time I was playing at The Bull with my Packers teammates Korey Hall, Daryn Colledge, and Tony Moll. We were all having a good time – and I was playing pretty well I might add – until a thunderstorm rolled into the area and we had to suspend play because of lightning. Luckily, Dave and Brenda were there and were kind enough to invite us into their home while we waited for the weather pass. While we were waiting at their house, Daryn started showing off his piano skills and we played (and beat) their children in a game of charades. Eventually, the weather cleared and we were able to complete our round, which of course was the perfect end to a great day. It is the little things you always remember, the relationships you establish and the people you meet along the way.
One of the coolest golf-related experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of was when I participated in the US Bank Championship at the Brown Deer Golf Course in 2005. Steve Stricker and I competed on a team against Brett Favre and Jerry Kelly, Ryan Longwell and J.P. Hayes and Don Majkowski and Skip Kendall over five holes.
During warm-ups with all of the pros watching, I was all over the place. My drives were bouncing off of the Nike and TaylorMade equipment trucks. This became more concerning as I stood on the first tee and realized that the hundreds of the spectators could potentially be in the line of my drive. Luckily no one was hurt, and later in the round I actually drained a snaking, downhill 25 foot putt to win $5,000 for charity to stop Brett and Jerry from winning all of the holes that day.
To wrap up today, I guess I would emphasize that in general, there are outstanding courses all over the state of Wisconsin and you don’t have to look too far for a place to tee it up. I wanted to hit on the ones right in that area near Sheboygan because it is an extremely high concentration of some of the best.
Next week I am going to talk about the best places to eat a Friday fish fry, and when it comes to eating, who could you possibly get better advice from than an offensive lineman? Until then, though, call a friend and get in a round of golf before Mother Nature says you can’t.