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Golf Course Review - Blackwolf Run
(Meadow Valleys / River)
By Phil Sokol - Director of Operations (TSN)

Meadow Valleys
Architect: Pete Dye
Year Opened: 1988-89
Location: Kohler, Wisconsin
Slope: 144
Rating: 74.6
Par: 72
Yardage: 7,165
Hole-by-Hole
1 - Par 4 392 Yds
2 - Par 4 402 Yds
3 - Par 3 179 Yds
4 - Par 5 565 Yds
5 - Par 4 383 Yds
6 - Par 4 470 Yds
7 - Par 5 520 Yds
8 - Par 3 240 Yds
9 - Par 4 485 Yds
10 - Par 4 382 Yds
11 - Par 5 522 Yds
12 - Par 4 461 Yds
13 - Par 4 341 Yds
14 - Par 4 423 Yds
15 - Par 3 227 Yds
16 - Par 5 550 Yds
17 - Par 3 165 Yds
18 - Par 4 458 Yds
Par 36 3,636 Yds Par 36 3,529 Yds
Key Events Held:
U.S. Women's Open Championship (1998)
Awards Won:
 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest - Places to Play (2008-10)
 #8 in Wisconsin by Golf Digest - Best in State (2009-10)
 #95 by Golf Digest - America's 100 Greatest Public (2009-10)
 #6 in Wisconsin by Golf Magazine - Best Courses Near You (2008)
 #51 Best Resort Golf Courses by GolfWeek Magazine (2008)
 #7 in Wisconsin by GolfWeek Magazine - Best in State (2006)
River
Architect: Pete Dye
Year Opened: 1988-90
Location: Kohler, Wisconsin
Slope: 148
Rating: 74.4
Par: 72
Yardage: 7,011
Hole-by-Hole
1 - Par 5 564 Yds
2 - Par 4 376 Yds
3 - Par 4 461 Yds
4 - Par 3 195 Yds
5 - Par 4 419 Yds
6 - Par 4 361 Yds
7 - Par 4 401 Yds
8 - Par 5 521 Yds
9 - Par 4 337 Yds
10 - Par 3 222 Yds
11 - Par 5 560 Yds
12 - Par 4 465 Yds
13 - Par 3 205 Yds
14 - Par 4 346 Yds
15 - Par 4 354 Yds
16 - Par 5 580 Yds
17 - Par 3 175 Yds
18 - Par 4 469 Yds
Par 37 3,635 Yds Par 35 3,376 Yds
Key Events Held:
 U.S. Women's Open Championship (1998)
 World Championships of Golf (1995-97)
 Wisconsin PGA Championship (1993)
 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying (1992)
 Wisconsin PGA State Open Championship (1991)
 USGA Mid-Amateur Qualifying (1989)
Awards Won:
 5 stars by Golf Digest - Places to Play (2004-10)
 #16 by Golf Digest - America's 100 Greatest Public (2009-10)
 #99 by Golf Digest - America's 100 Greatest Courses (2009-10)
 #39 by Golf Magazine - Top-50 Greatest Courses last 50 years (2009)
 #2 in Wisconsin by Golf Magazine - Best Courses Near You (2008)
 #3 in Wisconsin by Golf Digest - Best in State (2005-10)
 #11 Best Resort Golf Courses by GolfWeek Magazine (2008)
 #28 America's Top Golf Courses by Zagat Survey (2007-08)
 #2 Resort Course in Midwest by Travel + Leisure (2006-08)
 #13 by Golf Magazine - Top 100 Courses you can play (2006)
 #2 in Wisconsin by GolfWeek Magazine - Best in State (2006)
 Best New Public Course by Golf Digest (1988)
Web site: www.DestinationKohler.com
HISTORY: So Herb Kohler calls Pete Dye and says (paraphrasing), "I have this wonderful piece of property and I want you to create a masterpiece with unlimited funds." Well, I'm sure that's not exactly what transpired, but close enough.

Dye, who's crafted some of the most amazing courses around the world, such as Casa de Campo, TPC at Sawgrass, Oak Tree, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and Harbour Town, worked closely with Mr. Kohler in an effort to create magic in "America's Dairyland."

"We tried to create courses that are a test to the professional but enjoyable to the average player as well," said Dye. Read on and you'll see that he was true to his word, but first, a little history lesson (compliments of destinationkohler.com) is in order.

The course was named after Black Wolf, a chief of the Winnebago Indians (now known as the Ho-Chunk Nation). According to Gustave Buchen's local history, "Historic Sheboygan County," the Chippewa and Menominee Indians joined forces to drive out the Winnebagoes. Their intent was to occupy this splendid, beautiful hunting ground. Several battles were fought, and although the Winnebagoes were outnumbered, Black Wolf led his band up the mouth of the river, waded up the shallow water of the lakeshore and overtook his enemies. Black Wolf was a prominent chief in the history of the Winnebagoes in Wisconsin during the early 1800s.

Dye began his work in 1985, and although most of the midwest charm was left intact, many of his trademarks were incorporated throughout the venue, such as pot bunkers, undulating greens and his famous railroad tie usage.

Opened in June of 1988, the layout featured an 18-hole course, with an additional nine added to the Meadow Valleys course in July 1989 and the fourth nine completed in August of 1990.

When the United States Golf Association made its inaugural visit in 1998 for the Women's Open Championship, the original back nine of the Valleys course was used for the front nine, while assorted holes from the current River course were used for the closing section. Holes 11 through 18 of the Meadow Valleys course were used for holes 2-9, while holes 1-4 of the River and 14-18 were the ones chosen for the back side. The original hole of the Meadow Valleys course, which is no longer in use, was the opening hole of the Championship. The layout for the Championship was 6,300 yards at a par of 71 and when all was said and done, Korean Se Ri Pak earned the victory.

Pak, who became the youngest player at the age of 20 to win the Women's Open, defeated amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn in a playoff. Both players finished regulation at 290 (six-over-par). How difficult was the course? Only eight players broke 70, with the low round being 68 by three players. In fact, during the final round, just one player broke par, as Lorie Kane carded a one- under 70. The 1988 Championship proved to be quite a dramatic affair, as Chuasiriporn sank an improbable 40-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to force a playoff. After both players finished the 18-hole playoff with rounds of 73, the duo continued on in the first sudden-death finish in the history of the event. On the second extra hole, Pak sank a 15-foot birdie putt for the win.

In 1995, the River Course was selected as site of the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf, the precursor to the current WGC events. The U.S. portion of the event was won by Mark McCumber. The following year, the event returned to the River Course, and Greg Norman captured the International section of the Championship. When the Championship returned in 1997, Ernie Els defeated Steve Elkington in the title match of the International bracket.

Over the years, the courses at Blackwolf Run have been recognized as some of the nation's finest layouts. In fact, when the River Course opened for play, Golf Digest awarded the venue as the Best New Public Course.

When Pete Dye first saw the proposed site for the project, he responded, "There could not be a better natural setting for golf." High praise from someone who boasts nine designs in the top-100 of the greatest courses in the United States.

REVIEW:

MEADOW VALLEYS COURSE:

Pete Dye starts you off nice and easy on the opening hole of the Meadow Valleys course. Just a simple par four of just 392 yards, this is where you decide which tee box you want to play from. From the tips, the hole bends slightly to the right and requires a 237-yard tee shot to clear the pond down the right. From the blue markers its just 213 yards.
The sloping green on the second can be tricky, especially with a pin tucked back- left2nd hole.
The rolling fairway features a pair of 22-to 26-yard bunkers on the left that must be avoided if you're to start your round right. Just a short-iron will remain to a kidney-shaped green, just 27 yards in depth. Sand, short-right and deep, guards the wide, narrow putting surface to keep you on your toes.

The straightaway second provides for an ample landing area off the tee, although a pair of left-side bunkers certainly come into play. The fairway feeds down towards the center, leaving the player with an uphill approach to an elevated and bunkerless green. Miss short and left and you'll find yourself situated well below the putting surface, making for a very difficult up and down. The sloping green can be tricky, especially with a pin tucked back-left.

The par-three third requires pinpoint control.
The first par three on the course is just 179 yards in length, but it requires pinpoint control, as four deep bunkers guard the putting surface. Although the green is fairly flat, hitting the promised land could be quite another story, as the open area brings the elements into play.

At 565 yards, one would think that the par-five fourth would be out of reach, but that's what risk-reward is all about. Bending hard to the right, the key is the tee shot, which must avoid the enormous bunker standing in the middle of the fairway. There is plenty of room to the left -- laving a nice three- shot hole -- or go to the right sliver of a landing area to leave a chance of getting home in two. It's risky, especially with the three pot bunkers on the right, but it's possible. The green is uphill and hidden behind mounds, so favor the left to avoid the sneaky pot bunker fronting the surface. The putting green is the smallest on the course and rolls from back to front, so any shot below the pin leaves a great shot at birdie.

The fairway narrows as you near the green on the fifth hole.
A beautiful par four, the fifth bends to the right and then back to the left to a tight, tree-squeezed putting surface. Another generous landing area awaits the player, but driver might not be the call, as the fairway narrows as you near the green. At the 75-yard mark, trees on both sides of the fairway make your approach much more difficult. The putting surface is long and narrow with sand left and right, so accuracy is keen.

The S-shaped sixth is the hardest hole on the course, reaching 470 yards from the black buttons. The ideal tee shot favors the left side, however that brings the two fairway bunkers into play. A mid- to long-iron remains to a very large and undulating putting surface with two deep traps on the right. Bail out left and you'll end up in the chipping area. Certainly an easier spot to make par than the bunkers.

One of the easiest holes on the course, the seventh is a very reachable par five of just 520 yards. Having said that, you'll still need to play a draw down the left side avoiding sand and thick underbrush, not to mention a big trap guarding the right fairway. The gap is narrow as you reach the green, with water and sand left and another big bunker on the right at the 91-yard mark. The putting surface is 36 yards in length with water hugging the left and a closely-mown area right. The smart play is to layup short of the neck in the fairway and pinch a wedge for birdie.

Brilliant and diabolical -- two words that come into mind when standing on the eighth tee.
Par on the eighth and you're better than most.
The longest of the four par threes at 240 yards, this gem features a lake on the left side and a long, undulating putting surface. Mounding on the right blocks out part of the green, which is OK, since that's the bail out spot. Par here and you're better than most.

The longest par four on the course at 485 yards, the closer on the front side is a two-parter. First is the tee shot which requires a blast over a lengthy sand trap on the right. Even with a successful tee ball, you're still left with a long second for part two. Your approach towards the green must avoid the lake on the right which starts at the 150-yard mark and wraps around the green. A pair of traps cover the left side, just in case you wanted to bail out. At 41 paces, this putting surface is one of the longest on the course.

Not only is the 10th hole completely out of character for the Meadow Valleys course, but it's also borderline unfair. You see, the short dogleg-right par four is so deeply treelined, that some of the branches actually hang over the fairway. So not the norm, this is the only hole on the course with this much foliage. OK, enough ranting. You'll need a fairway-metal or long-iron down the left side to open up a clear shot towards the green. The putting surface is guarded by a deep bunker short-left, a series of pot bunkers back-left and a pot bunker right. The fairly small, sloping green can create havoc on your putter.

Back into the open spaces, the 11th is a dogleg-left par five that wraps around an enormous, triangular-shaped bunker. Cut off as much as you choose, but you'll have to bust a drive of almost 300 yards to clear the end of the trap. Best bet is to play to the right and you'll still have a go towards the green. Moguls down the right side of the layup area must be avoided to set up and easy approach to the raised putting surface. A very deep trap on the right side sits well below the two-tiered green that slopes hard from back to front. Birdie chance, yes, but bogey or worse can happen very easily.

The most difficult hole on the back side, the 12th is a robust, dogleg-left par four reaching 461 yards from the tips. The drive must dissect the fairway traps on either side of the landing area or you'll be forced with a difficult decision of laying up or crossing the split fairway. A draw towards the right side will leave a medium- to long-iron, uphill approach to one of the longest greens on the course at 42 paces. No traps guarding the putting surface, but a steep slope on the left falls off towards Weeden's Creek, forcing your second to be spot on.

No. 13 is another dogleg-left, this time in the form of a short par four of just 341 yards.
The 14th hole requires intense strategy or you'll be playing from the weeds.
The tee shot is critical, as you must clear the creek fronting the fairway and avoid the sand left and thick weeds right. Fairway-metal should do the trick, however this will leave a steep, uphill approach to a fairly flat putting surface. Miss this green left and you'll find yourself well below the green and right is no bargain either where sand awaits.

Reading your yardage book will certainly help when you reach the 14th. A sharp dogleg right, downhill par four, this hole requires intense strategy or you'll be playing from the weeds. Your tee shot is partially blind, as the hole sweeps towards the right and down to the green, so fairway-metal is the play. The big stick can run through the landing area and into some tall, thick grass.
The 15th hole requires a long-iron or fairway-metal to reach the green.
Your approach to the green must be calculated to the "Nth" degree, as the pin sits 40 feet below and is surrounded by the aforementioned creek, not to mention a pair of bunkers deep. Another putting surface over 40 paces, this one can be a bear, especially when the stick is back-right.

I hate when par threes are always rated as the easiest holes on the course, especially when they turn out to be some of the most difficult. Case in point: the 227-yard 15th. Not only will you need to strike a long-iron or fairway-metal to perfection, but you'll have to carry the entire ravine of Weeden's Creek to get home. Although there are no bunkers, the green is 48 paces in length and features several swales throughout. By the way, the putting surface sits out in the open, so the elements will certainly come into play.

The par-five 16th bends to the right playing as long as 550 yards.
A difficult driving hole, the par-five 16th bends to the right playing as long as 550 yards. The elevated fairway is difficult to view, as massive mounding shields the landing area. Getting home in two is possible, but you'll have to feather a left-to-right shot through a narrow opening. The smart play would be to layup, short and left of the 100-yard, lake-like bunker on the right that runs through the green. This will enable you to put some spin on a wedge and attack the flag. Go for it!

A ravine wraps around the left side of the 17th hole.
The shortest hole on the course, the 17th will most likely make you scratch your head and wonder what Mr. Dye had in mind when he put a tree in front of the green. That's right, an old maple tree guards the putting surface, forcing the player to loft a high, soft approach towards the large and relatively flat green. Short and left of the green is trouble with a capital T, as a ravine wraps around the port side. No bunkers, but swales and chipping areas mark the right side.

One of the prettiest and dramatic finishing holes in golf, the 18th at Meadow Valleys is a picturesque, 458-yard par four which crosses Sheboygan River.
The 18th is a classic closing hole.
From an elevated tee box, you'll need to shape your drive from right to left, avoiding the rough, trees and river down the right. Played as the ninth during the 1998 U.S. Women's Open, the hole features two greens: one for the red markers, which sits at the end of the fairway prior to the water; and one that stands on the other side. Following a successful drive, a medium- to long-iron can remain to the monstrous putting surface that lurks ever so close to the water and below the massive clubhouse. The green's not tricky, but its length can add two clubs to your approach. A classic closing hole.

RIVER COURSE:
It's called the River Course for good reason, as the Sheboygan River Valley runs through much of the venue, especially down the entire left side of the opening hole. Aptly named Snake, the first winds around to the left and then the right. In all, it's a modest 564-yard par five and a good starting hole. Avoid the fairway bunker down the right and you'll have a go to get home. If not, your layup must dissect the pair of bunkers on either side of the landing area. At 48 paces, the green is the longest on the course with a ridge in the center. A back-left pin can make for a difficult par.

Four greenside traps will keep you honest on the second hole.
Another breather of sorts, the second is a straightaway par four of just 376 yards. The key is the tee ball, which must avoid the thick trees left and mounding down the right. No fairway traps, but missing right could result in a lost ball with the thick, native grasses. The putting surface is narrow and slick, running from front to back and to the right. Four greenside traps will keep you honest, but No. 2 could yield a few birdies.

In contrast, the third is the No. 1 handicap hole on the course, reaching 461 yards from the tips and bending sharply to the right. You'll need to avoid the gaping bunker and group of trees down the right side to have any chance at getting home in regulation. Even with a successful tee shot, you're left with a medium-to long-iron home to an r-shaped green.
The 195-yard fourth can be a bit frightful.
From 150 yards out on the right and through the green, stands an enormous fairway bunker. Along with native grasses to the left and behind the putting surface, this hole has certainly earned its moniker: "Gotcha."

One of the many signature holes at Blackwolf Run, the par-three fourth is a beauty. With a lake guarding the entire right side and with the ever-changing winds coming off the water, this 195-yarder can be a bit frightful. Bailing out left will not guarantee an easy up and down, as several mounds take the place of sand. Even with a safe tee shot, the putting surface is long and when the pin is back-right, good luck!

The fairway on the fifth is quite generous.
From an elevated tee, the view on the fifth is sensational on this medium-length par four. The fairway is generous, but two bunkers -- one on the right side and one left -- must be avoided. Your approach to the green will be uphill to a slick surface. Make sure to add a club or two or you'll end up short and right of the green, which will leave an impossible blind chip, or worse, a date with a miniscule pot bunker. I was lucky to make three, but my partner was not as fortunate.

A real birdie chance awaits when you reach the sixth tee. Accuracy rules the roost on this downhill, dogleg-right par four, one of five under 400 yards. Trees and the River Valley line the right, so play down the left to set up the best approach to one of the smallest greens on the course. Remember to take one less club for your second as you attack the pin. One trap protects the right portion of the putting surface, which features a rise in the center and is quite slick from back to front. At 28 yards in length, only the ninth is smaller.

At the farthest juncture on the course, you now head back towards the clubhouse at the dogleg-left, par-four seventh. At 401 yards, it's not the longest hole, but it's certainly one of the most demanding, as a 110-yard bunker guards the left fairway and deep rough and native grasses protect the right. A mid-iron should remain to a tiny green guarded by a deep, cavernous bunker on the right (believe me, I was in it). The putting surface is small and undulating and, despite its size, could produce a few three-putts.

The eighth is one of the most intimidating tee shots on the course.
Without a doubt, the eighth is one of the most intimidating tee shots on the course. From an elevated tee box and through a chute of trees, there is more here than meets the eye. The beginning of the fairway is not visible due to trees and thick underbrush and the landing area is tightened due to the tall foliage on the right. Rest assured, this par five can be had -- you just need some confidence and a yardage book. You'll have several options from the fairway to choose from, as it doglegs to the right. Going for the green is risky, but possible, and you'll need to crack a big second into a narrow putting surface with trees right and sand left. Next is a layup left, which is the prudent play, although it will leave an uphill approach to a partially blind putting surface. Another choice is to play out towards the right, elevated fairway, as this will leave a straight shot to the green. Favor the right of the green, as any shot just off the mark left will fall hard towards sand and deep hollows.

Another one of the stellar holes on the River Course is the short par-four ninth. A great risk-reward gem at 337 yards, this hole can be played conservatively or with guns-a-blazin'. The river runs hard down the entire right side of the hole, while a group of trees stand tall in the same vicinity, guarding the right fairway and your line of sight to the green. The sensible play is down the left side with a fairway-metal or long-iron, avoiding the pot bunker at the 92-yard mark.
Water right and rear should not come into play on the 10th, however the 70-yard trap down the right side will.
A little wedge will suffice to a green that slopes towards the water, which is, as the group Yes once proclaimed, "Close to the edge, down by the river." If you decide to give it a go, you'll need a blast of 300 yards and a little luck to slip past the strategically placed fairway bunkers. Brain wins out over brawn 95 percent of the time.

The longest of the par threes, the 10th reaches 222 yards from the black markers. Water right and rear should not come into play, however the 70-yard trap down the right side will. The opening to the putting surface is benign and a great place to bail out just in case bad thoughts creep into your mind. Don't go after a back-right pin. Play to the heart of the green, two-putt and move on. One of these days I'll listen to my own advice.

Intimidating. That's all I can say about standing on the 11th tee. First of all, the hole bends to a right angle. It runs 560 yards, and, by the way, the river runs down the entire right side of the hole through the green! Several trees and sand guard the landing area off the tee, not to mention a trio of traps to clear down the left. It's your second shot which will make you squirm just a bit. You must favor the left side, as the water tightens the fairway. Gamble if you dare, as you try to cut off as much as you can. A short-iron or wedge will remain to a fairly long green. Remember, water runs down the right, so don't flirt with a nasty pin.

If you thought the first two holes on the inward nine were difficult, the 12th is no picnic either. Rated the No. 2 handicap hole on the course, this par four requires a 250-yard forced carry over water and sand just to reach the fairway. Even with a successful shot, you'll still have a couple of hundred yards to the green. Don't forget: the Sheboygan is running down the right and comes dangerously close to the putting surface. Mounding down the left and one bunker in the rear will keep you honest. Make par here and, as NBC commentator Mark Rolfing once said, you're "Better than most!"

The 13th concludes a stretch of four holes that rank among the best in the state, if not the country. This par three borders on unfair from the back tees, as tall trees block a portion of the putting surface and, yes, the river winds around to the right. Demanding would be an understatement. The putting surface is also the longest on the course at 53 paces and with its shallow creek bed, some days you're hitting over fly-fishing sportsmen.

Like most of us recreational golfers, you've reached the 14th hole after crashing and burning on the previous quartet and you're upset. So, instead of taking out the long-iron or fairway-metal, you reach for the big stick on this short par four. You'll have to contend with Swan Lake on the right, but there is plenty of room on the left, so let it fly.
The short, par-four 15th requires just a fairway-metal to navigate the very wide and accommodating fairway.
No fairway bunkers to contend with, just some mounding and you'll have just a little wedge remaining to a fairly long green. A safe tee ball will give you a real birdie chance, one of the few remaining on the course.

Finally an easy hole -- well, it should be. The No. 18 handicap hole, the short, par-four 15th requires just a fairway-metal to navigate the very wide and accommodating fairway. There is plenty of sand to contend with on both sides of the landing area, hence the name "Sand Pit," but even I hit the fairway. Your approach towards the green plays downhill, which will make club selection crucial, as a gaping bunker short and left sits well below the putting surface and seems to get plenty of action. Native grasses long and left provide even more excitement for the errant golfer. Easy? I think not.

Each shot on the 16th hole is quite demanding.
The winding par-five 16th can reach to 580 yards from the tips, as it plays downhill towards the green. Each shot on this hole is quite demanding, from a tee shot which should favor the bunkered left side, to the layup which needs to be placed down the right to avoid the Linden tree, and, finally, the green approach, where the river comes into to play on the left. The putting surface is long and stands above the edge of the water. A well-struck third could leave a birdie chance to one of the flattest greens on the course.

With a pond lurking on the left, the 17th can play very tricky, despite being the shortest hole on the course. At just 175 yards, this par three requires pinpoint accuracy off the tee, especially with a back pin. The roller-coaster putting surface is long and narrow and will require every bit of skill you can muster with the flat stick.

The final hole on the course is called "Dyehard".
It's called "Dyehard" for a reason. Well, plenty of reasons. First of all, as the closing hole on the River Course, it's supposed to be hard. Second, this par four wraps hard to the left with the Sheboygan running alongside it. Next, 469 yards from the tips and a meandering waste-bunker with mounds and hollows running throughout. If that wasn't enough, there is a 50-yard fairway bunker and native grasses guard the landing area to the right. The long-iron or fairway-metal that awaits is struck towards a long, open green that runs slightly from back to front. Shared with the 18th on the Meadow Valleys course, this green sits below the rustic and stately clubhouse in full view of your achievement and possible disappointment.

FINAL WORD:
They say that Wisconsin is known for cheese, the Green Bay Packers, drinking (beer capital of the world) and Happy Days. Yes, the hit TV show was centered around Arnold's Drive-In in Milwaukee.

But golf, could it be? Oh yes, in a big way.

The four courses in Kohler are some of the finest in the country, and the twosome at Blackwolf Run are awesome.

Let's start out with the amenities.

You'll be hard-pressed to find a staff more accommodating and generous than the team at Blackwolf Run. From the pro shop to the golf course to the locker room and restaurant, the personnel are extremely knowledgeable and forever hustling.

If it's merchandise you want, then the golf shop is the place to be. Fully stocked with clubs, men's and women's attire, logo balls, hats, etc...You get the picture, all adorned with the creative Blackwolf Run moniker.

The rustic clubhouse, almost 40,000 square feet, is perched above the 18th holes of both courses, features vaulted ceilings, a massive fireplace and Native American artifacts. Built of Canadian pine logs, the clubhouse features sensational views of the course and the forever winding Sheboygan River.

If it's food you want, then sit at the bar or in the restaurant and sample some of the local fare or any of the succulent morsels. If it's me, I go for the Chicken Bruschetta appetizer, followed by the Spiced Kobe Bistro Steak and topped off with Triple Vanilla Creme Brulee and Warm Brownie Sundae. Toss in a bottle of wine and your meal is complete.

Back to the golf. The courses, Meadow Valleys and River, offer two different styles of design.

The Meadow Valleys layout is certainly more forgiving of the two, with generous fairways and wide open spaces. This course is a natural paradise, complete with deep ravines, elevation changes, wispy native grasses and the ever-present Sheboygan River and Weeden's Creek. Water actually comes into play on seven holes, including the wonderful 18th. The course also features a pair of railroad car bridges, one on the 13th and the other between the 14th green and 15th tee. Although two holes on the Meadow Valleys course, the 10th and 17th, do not suit me (I did par both), this is a wonderful tract that is quite enjoyable.

The River Course is without a doubt the better of the two, with its large undulating greens, rambunctious fairways, strategic bunkering and target-style golf. Water is quite evident on this layout, with the River coming into play on no less than 14 of the 18 holes. Stretching to just over 7,000 and with plenty of danger at every turn, it's no wonder that the slope is 148. The quartet of par threes, highlighted by the tough 13th, are some of the finest in the land.

Both courses feature four sets of tees, so all skill levels can compete on these well-conditioned beauties. Pete Dye outdid himself when crafting these two gems. "In designing Blackwolf Run, we wanted to make a resort-type course where players of varying ability will enjoy themselves," said Dye. "I put a gambling element into the courses, where the player will be greatly rewarded for taking a chance, but penalized if the gamble fails."

The awards continue to roll in for both layouts, as they rank in the top-10 in the state and the top-100 in America. Along with the amazing accommodations of the American Club, satisfaction is guaranteed. Don't take my word for it, just ask Travel + Leisure magazine, which rated the venue as Best Golf Resort in the Midwest and the eighth best in the United States.

You'll be tested, awed and thrilled to experience the wonderful layouts of Blackwolf Run. The USGA and PGA Tour have stopped here...why shouldn't you?

Aces, pars or bogeys, send your thoughts to Phil Sokol at psokol@sportsnetwork.com.
Phil Sokol

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