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Door County offers challenges for golfers of all skill levels, and its courses offer some of the most stunning views in the Midwest. That means a rough day on the scorecard never becomes a bad day.
But what are some of the most challenging, and most scenic, holes on the county’s 11 golf courses? We talked to local golfers to get a glimpse of some of the gems of the county’s golf scene.
Number 16, The Orchards
Par 5, 577 yards
Hole 16 at The Orchards isn’t like most par fives.
Each of the four tees stretch to 500 yards or longer. A wide fairway is blanketed on both sides by fescue territory.
Orchards general manager Jack Jackson told writer Sean Zak for Door County Living magazine that the second shot is the tough part of this hole.
“If your drive is long enough, you may attempt to get home in two, but if you aim directly at the green, more water comes into play, and a lay-up shot is also treacherous,” he said.
The water he notes, marginally, is probably worthy of a higher remark. It’s a four-acre lake of sorts that sits between the holes 16, 17 and 18 and leaves golfers in the position to “get home in two,” like Jackson said, or “lay-up.”
To lay-up, however, takes a defined iron shot to a thin landing strip guarded by sand traps.
Blue Number 9, Alpine Resort and Golf Course
Par 4, 268 yards
The Blue 9 starts high atop the Niagara Escarpment in Egg Harbor, where golfers soak in a majestic view of the bay in the distance. It’s not a bad spot to stop for a photo, and was once named the most scenic hole in Wisconsin by the Milwaukee Journal. The 100-foot drop to the green down below can play games with your spin, but can also give you a shot at a hole-in-one.
Number 5, Idlewild Golf Course
Par 4, 424 yards
A doglegging fairway calls for a subtle left-to-right ball flight. A marshy water hazard sits aside the fairway, posing a treacherous fate for those who slice.
A small creek short of the green poses another hazard. Then there’s a bunker and a large tree at the green that golfers must avoid. In sum, this hole can ruin a great round.
“It’s sometimes the topic of discussion after a round in the Pub and Grill,” Idlewild Head Golf Professional Randy Meyer told Zak. “This hole has singlehandedly spoiled many good rounds.”
Number 4, Maxwelton Braes Golf Course
Par 4, 456 yards
One of the county’s oldest courses, Maxwelton offers challenges to experienced golfers. No. 4 is a par 4, but it’s a long par 4. “It’s a straight, longer hole, but it gets narrower at the landing hole which makes it tough,” said avid Door County golfer Bob Spielman.
Number 17, Peninsula State Park Golf Course
Par 3, 156 yards
Both beauty and beast, No. 17 is tough on first-time players because it’s really hard to get the distance right. The tees are atop a tall hill (famously known for sledding as Hill 17 in the winter months). “You want to hit the green, but you really need to hit it short,” said Bonnie Spielman (yes, Bob’s wife, and another proud golf enthusiast). “If you don’t, you have a horrible second shot if you can’t stick the green.”
Sticking the green is tough, she said, because it’s more sloped than any green in Door County.
No. 13, Horseshoe Bay Golf Club
Par 5, 545 yards
This hole offers two fairways to choose from, which might be a blessing to some. But to Bonnie Spielman, it’s a curse.
“You kind of get punished for hitting a good drive, because if it goes in the center, it’s completely out of play,” she said. “You have to take a drop. I hate that hole.”
Once you get near the green, there’s a false front that will send your ball rolling back well short of the green if you hit it, and a heavy contour line bisecting the green as well.
Number 2, Bay Ridge Golf Course
Bob Spielman said this Sister Bay course offers a surprising challenge.
“Number 2 might be the hardest par 3 in Door County,” he said. “It’s not long, at just 190 yards, but it’s very narrow at the green, and if you miss it, you’re in the woods left or right.”
“If the wind is going the wrong way out there, that’s as bad a shot as there is.”
Number 8, Peninsula State Park Golf Course
Par 3, 66 yards
It’s hard to find a hole shorter than this 66 yarder that starts atop a 50-foot cliff and ends at the green down below. In the distance golfers will see Chief Kahquados totem pole, and Ephraim Harbor beyond that. The challenge is not hitting it too far. But many people used to playing the course refer to it as the park’s “mini-golf hole.”
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