REVIEW: Blackwolf Run Golf Course, WI - River & Meadow/Valley

The OG of Wisconsin's Golf Mecca
Wisconsin is quickly becoming the public golf mecca of the US.  There are some good resorts and great golf courses all around the country, but WI has a collection of public courses that rival any state.  All the recent explosion of great golf in WI can trace its roots back to Blackwolf Run.  It really was the first high-end championship public course in WI.  Sometimes with all the new courses in WI, people have forgotten about Blackwolf Run.  My recent rounds there reminded me just how good they are.  If you are planning to golf in WI, make sure to include a couple tee-times at Blackwolf Run.
1. River Course
The River Course meanders around the banks of the Sheboygan River.  It is one of the more peaceful, secluded, beautiful settings for a parkland course.  You are surrounded by nature and wildlife on virtually every hole.  There was even a flyfisherman on hole 9 in the river.  As you soak all the beauty of each hole, you’ll also be reminded of the high slope and rating as you do your best to score.  You probably aren’t going to get a personal best at the River course.  It is narrow, has lots of hazards and many of the green complexes are challenging.   Hole 9 is one of the most memorable holes as a true Risk/Reward short par 4.  You can drive the green if you take the aggressive line which has danger everywhere, or you can play it safe and follow the fairway.  The final 3 holes make for a strong finish with potential to blow up your scorecard.

2. Meadow/Valley Course
The Meadow/Valley Course is exactly as it is named; you play 9 holes on an upper meadow plateau and then hit the ups and downs of the valley 9.  The Meadow/Valley Course is not as hard as its sister course the River, but still has plenty of challenging holes.  Hole 7-9 are really good holes around a small lake.  The Valley 9 has some really cool holes like 13, 14 and 18.  A short uphill drivable par 4, and long well guarded par 4 and another tough par 4 to close by crossing the river.  There is decent elevation changes and so many creative shots can be used to play these 18 holes

3. OG Course
Before Blackwolf Run had 36 holes; there was an original 18 holes which are a combo of holes from the River and Meadow/Valley.  This is the championship course used for the LPGA events hosted at Blackwolf Run and is open to the public for a short time every year.  I didn’t play that routing while I was there this summer, but it is a collection of many of the best holes from both courses.

4. Course Conditions
You will not find a course in better condition anywhere, public or private than Blackwolf Run.  Every tee box is flat and perfect.  The bentgrass fairways were smooth like carpet and just firm enough to get proper bounce and roll.  The greens were immaculate and had a nice speed to them.  They weren’t crazy fast which isn’t necessary, just smooth, true and predictable.  The bunkers are soft but consistent and very playable.  Even the rough was nice.  It is lush and thick, but appropriate if you miss the fairways.

5. Blackwolf Run Experience
The staff here is professional, courteous and makes for great experience.  They don’t rush anything, there is plenty of space between tee-times, they have informative starters, they make you feel like a welcomed guest and help out in any way they can.  The marshal goes around and makes sure everything is going well throughout your round.  They include the necessities like tees and ball markers, but also have a really nice commemorative bag tag.

6. Food and Drinks
While we spent most of time on the golf course, we enjoyed lunch overlooking the 18th holes of each course.  It is high above the greens and has a beautiful view.  It is an old log cabin style clubhouse.  It is huge and has lots of seating to enjoy food or drink after your round.  I was impressed that the prices were pretty much inline with other courses.  It wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t overly expensive either.  The double brat is highly recommended!!

7. Kohler Golf
They offer a number of stay-and-play packages.  If you are not from the WI area, this is the best value and option for golfing at Blackwolf Run.  Most of their packages also include some golf at Whistling Straits too.  This is also one of those trips that you can bring you wife whether she is a golfer or not.  There is great shopping in the village of Kohler and the spas I’ve been told are outstanding.  I don’t think that she’ll run out of things to do while you are golfing.  If she’s a golfer, she’ll enjoy the forward tees and playing on the same course as the LPGA.

8. Location
Wisconsin is a mecca for great golf.  Blackwolf Run was the first course and still deserves a spot in WI golf trip. Since it is only an hour from Milwaukee or Green Bay, you can get their easily even if your WI travels aren’t exclusively golf.  If they are, you’ll want to get over to the other Kohler courses at Whistling Straits.  There are a handful of other great courses around the state, that are within about 2-3 hours drive.  It is easily accessible from all over the state.  It is only about 30 minutes from where I grew up.

9. Little Details Make it Great
Pete Dye designed the courses at Blackwolf Run to be championship courses.  They are some of the more difficult courses around.  What really makes the courses so much fun are the little design details.  There are speed slots, little bunkers, well placed trees, humps and bumps that at times can frustrate, but also benefit well hit shots.  There is a rail car that serves as a bridge on hole 14 of the Meadow/Valley, there are steps into some deeper bunkers, there are many options off the tee which means you need to think your way around the course.  I played every club in my bag, which is also the sign of a good design. 

While Blackwolf Run isn’t making the headlines like they used to, they are still one of the top courses in WI.  It is a traditional parkland course that is actually one of the toughest in the state.  With perfect turf conditions and excellent staff the experience is second to none.  You can play along the banks of the Sheboygan River or wander through the meadows or traverse the ups and downs of the Valley.  You need to put Blackwolf Run on your golf destination bucket list.

For more information: