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Milwaukee 2005

by Moe Miller

On this trip the wife and I played 5 great golf courses.

Course
Location
Designer
Moe Design Rating by hole
Otter Creek Columbus, Indiana Robert Trent Jones SR. 1964 5 Excellent

13 Good

Stonewall Orchard Gray's Lake, Illinois Art Hills 1999 6 Excellent

11 Good

1 OK

Washington County Golf Course Hartford, Wisconsin Art Hills 1997 4 Excellent

14 Good

Bolingbrook Golf Course Bolingbrook, Illinois Art Hills 2002 5 Excellent

13 Good

Purgatory Golf Course Noblesville, Indiana Ron Kern 2000 4 Excellent

14 Good


It's obvious from those numbers that my hole by hole design rating system does very little to separate great course designs from one another. And these all were great courses! So let's try some comparisons. Throw in some personal preferences and see what we get.

Let's take the two Indiana courses. Both courses are built on absolutely flat land. In 1964 Mr. Jones elevated the tee boxes, the greens, and a few fairway bunkers. He used the creek a couple of times, and almost every hole is a dogleg. Every hole was good, most lies were level, and the design was good because it was 1964. Now we have the trees - giant Oaks and Maples to prevent any shortcuts. And the grass still grows under the trees because the grass was there first. Otter Creek is much better today then in 1964. From the back tees it plays 7,258 yards. The course lies on the land like it has always been there. It has stood the test of time.

Purgatory has 120 sand bunkers! The fairways are all rolling and lined with giant grass covered moguls. Tons of dirt were pushed around to create "Links golf" in central Indiana.

Moe tees off at Purgatory in Indiana

Very few trees have been planted. We only counted 3 holes - #16 has 14 bunkers #17 (a par 3) has 13 bunkers #18 has 19 bunkers!!! Ridiculous!! Where could you put 13 bunkers on a par three!! On #17 if you hit the ball bad enough, you could be in 4 bunkers before you reached the green!! In forty years they will be out of sand in Purgatory. Without planting trees, the course cannot possibly improve with time. The tall grass areas will fill with weeds, and get worse. I want all of you who like Purgatory to promise me you will go back in forty years and check it out. That means you Wilma! Of course it's not too late for Purgatory to avoid hell. It's never too late to plant trees.

Let me just complete my rant on Links Style golf courses. If you're bald be bald! If you build a golf course on the coast of Scotland where trees don't grow, then use long grass and sand as hazards. If you build a course in mid-America where trees are our best feature, then use trees. It's kinda like – If you're bald be bald – if you got hair comb it!

In order to calm down, let me talk food for a moment. On 86th Street on the north side of Indy,we found Oakley's Bistro. It gets the top mark of 4 1/2 stars in Moe's Dining Guide. On the way back thru Indianapolis, we tried Chanteclair, which is in the Holiday Inn out by the Airport, southwest of town. It's French, with lots of table side food preparation, and also gets 4 ½ stars. This was a good trip for golf and food.

Washington County Golf Course is a muni in Hartford, Wisconsin, that Art Hills did in 1997. It was 58 degrees when we started but got warmer and less windy as we went. The course was very wet due to the rains the previous night but I saw no drainage problems. Good job somebody! The grass was all lush - no drought up there this year - with great fairways, thick rough, and med-fast greens. The course is mostly open, so the wind is a BIG factor. The course is a nice; very well run muni, for less than $50 with cart. I did notice that since the course was built in the county park that they dug one pond (on # 10 ) for fill dirt, and then fenced it outside the golf course, so now the county park has a fishing hole. I like that.

Stonewall Orchard is an upscale public course in Grays Lake, Illinois, north of Chicago. It was designed by Art Hills/Steve Forrest and opened in 1999. It is doing very well. We did pay $88 apiece on a Friday, so they've gone up recently. The course was in great shape with bent grass fairways and greens. The rough was thick and lush. The course is mostly open and it was a windy day which elevated my score (91). I lost two balls by not taking the best angle when trying to carry the marsh. Another time around and I'd do better. I had two birdies on the back side.

"The wife" sets up for a draw at Stonewall Orchard's par three sixth.

I gave it 6 excellent holes and 11 good ones, and then we played number 18. I understand about finishing with a strong, memorable hole, but that was TOO much. It plays 615 yards from the tips. I was playing it at 562 from the gold tees (6506 total). That's long by any standards, and the green has a lake behind and on the left side of it. That's enough right there to make me happy with a bogie. Then some sadist, I don't know if that was Art or Steve, (but I know Steve worked on Eagle Ridge), bulldozed mounds and sand bunkers in front and right of the green, so you can't really even see it from 150 yards out ( after two good shots). It was just too much. Short holes may need tough green treatments; a 600 yard hole does not. When I complained to the Art Hills office in Toledo, they said I wasn't the first one.

Bolingbrook Golf Course is a city owned golf course in the suburbs south-west of Chicago. We played with locals John and Joe, and they told us some great things about Bolingbrook. For example; the mayor's office is located in the clubhouse! That would have to be a plus: "You need water? We got water" The mayor is promising another 18 hole course soon.

Number 14 Bolingbrook in Wisconsin

Joyce had to pay $70, but I played as a senior for $45, which means they LOVE old guys. In the cart were towels, long tees, and two bottles of their own label water. On the range were free balls, and best of all; we got to take our cart into the parking lot to unload. The place was packed on a Wednesday and it was a 5 hour round, but with good company. The course was again mostly open. It was flat land, but many ponds had been dug to provide some rolling terrain (too much on # 5) Let me say again - "if you're bald - be bald".

There were also many well placed sand bunkers, and the grass was all thick and lush. The greens were fast. I gave 5 excellent holes here, and 4 were on the back side.

Bolingbrook is a very nice upscale public course, doing very well, and bringing praise to the Art Hills design team !