There was a time when the clubhouse was probably the last thing golfers thought about when heading to the first tee. It was a place to change your shoes, have a hot dog at the turn and a cold one when you were done. These days the better golf course clubhouses stand as their own travel destinations offering outstanding food, comfort beyond comprehension, and often spectacular scenery.
The Kohler clubhouses at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan and Blackwolf Run in Kohler are today considered the gold standard for service. Like the courses, each of the clubhouses have a distinctive personality. Respecting the natural setting of the Sheboygan River Valley, the Blackwolf clubhouse is big into pine logs and fieldstone with Native American artifacts on display.
At the Straits, you’ll love the Irish farmhouse feel. Both run the gauntlet from modestly priced food options to elegant dining. Comfort being the operative word at both.
If Kohler sets the gold standard, their main challenger is the clubhouse at Erin Hills. Host of the 2017 U.S. Open, Erin Hills capitalizes on its own Irish inspiration by offering a menu of distinctly Wisconsin fare, as well as a lengthy list of at least 15 whiskeys and scotches from the home country all anchored by a two-story stone fireplace.
Erin Hills gets an extra gold star for offering on-course accommodations. From single rooms to suites, you can literally be just steps from a bucket-list defining golf adventure.
The locals have always called Pleasant View Golf Course in Middleton, “Goat Hill” for all the obvious reasons. Walking the 18th hole at Pleasant View is an impressive cardio workout. It’s also a great family destination because of the kid-friendly par three course in addition to the other 27 holes.
Some 300 feet above Lake Mendota, you’ll love the view of the Capitol. But the burgers are a great reason to take the trek to Goat Hill. Fresh ingredients, bakery fresh buns and an outdoor grill are the perfect cap to a delightful round of golf.
Grant Park was Milwaukee’s first golf course, opening in 1920; however, the clubhouse dates back to the 1860s when it was originally a farm home. It’s a good golf course for youngsters and seniors at only 5,200 yards long. You are stepping back in Wisconsin history when visiting Grant Park.
Wild Rock’s log cabin style clubhouse gets high marks for its pro shop, octagon bar and outdoor patio for scenery. Plus it was recognized by Golf Inc. with a national design award for “Best New Clubhouse” the year it opened. The massive log beams, vaulted ceilings and framed views of the golf course are reason enough to pay a visit.
Just north of Wisconsin Dells, a bit off the beaten path is Northern Bay. It’s a fun round because Northern Bay is home to replicas of seven of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour. A new clubhouse recently opened where you can watch players struggle with a mirror image of the 17th island green at TPC Sawgrass (their #9) and the 18th hole at Bay Hill Country Club (their #18).
SentryWorld made a big upgrade to both the golf course and clubhouse. Not only is the clubhouse new, but there’s an expansive field house complete with indoor tennis and volleyball courts, an indoor driving range, as well as a new full-scale restaurant, PJ’s, named after one of Sentry’s founders, PJ Jacobs. As part of a corporate philosophy, Sentry promises a renewed commitment to the local community and families.
If we had an award for the most interesting, quirky and wonderfully odd golf clubhouse, it would go to the Eagle Springs Golf Resort. When you walk in, you may notice an apple tree inside the building. When the new clubhouse was being built, the tree was in the way. The story goes that the locals loved the apple tree so much they built the new clubhouse around it, and it’s still there today. Right next to the shirts.
Unfortunately, the tree died a few years ago, but it remains a great conversation piece. The other great folklore at Eagle Springs? The 1920s Cubs pitcher, A.G. Spaulding, designed the first two holes.