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The 20 best golf courses in Wisconsin (2022/2023)

The 17th hole at whistling straits.

As part of GOLF’s course rating process for 2022-23, our fleet of 100-plus expert panelists identified the best golf courses in Wisconsin. Browse the links below to check out all of our course rankings, or scroll down to see the best courses in Wisconsin.

GOLF’s other course rankings: Top 100 Courses in the World | Top 100 Courses in the U.S. | Top 100 Courses You Can Play | Top 100 Value Courses in the U.S. | America’s Best Municipal Courses | The 100 Best Short Courses in the World

SYMBOL GUIDE
1 = Top 100 Course in the U.S.
P = Public/Resort Course
V = Top 100 Value Course in the U.S.
M = Top 30 Municipal Course in the U.S.

Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.

The best golf courses in Wisconsin (2022/2023)

1. Whistling Straits — Straits (Sheboygan) [1, P]

Home of the 2004, ’10 and ’15 PGA Championships, this 1998 Pete Dye design on Lake Michigan was once a poker-table-flat military training base in World War II. Eventually it became a site for illegal dumping of toxic waste. Dye and owner Herb Kohler engineered a mind-boggling cleanup, moving 3 million cubic yards of dirt, trucking in 7,000 loads of sand to create the hills and bunkers and relocating the bluffs back off the shore. Kohler told Dye “I want the course to look like it’s in Ireland.” Mission accomplished. The 2021 Ryder Cup played here highlighted what a great match-play course it is, too, with its plethora of ½-par holes.

2. Milwaukee CC [1]

Designed by C.H. Alison, Milwaukee Country Club is a charming old-school layout that challenges the modern player with fast greens and deep bunkers. You walk out the men’s locker door and — boom — you’re standing on the first tee. A series of stout two-shotters gets the round underway while the middle section of the course (especially holes 8-12) enjoys a spectacular component courtesy of the Milwaukee River and its valley. The course gallops home at 17, a brute of an uphill one-shotter, and 18, with its green featuring a wicked false front.

The Links course lays out with plenty of open terrain. Courtesy of Lawsonia

3. Lawsonia — Links (Green Lake) [1, P, V]

Golden Age masters Langford & Moreau spent nearly $4 million in 2020 dollars to build this literally ground-breaking Wisconsin layout. Steam shovels shaped its most spectacular features, including some of the boldest putting complexes on the planet. Rumor has it a boxcar was buried under the 7th green to create the dramatic 20-foot drop-off. The result of all this mechanical wizardry? Possibly the most underrated course in America and its greatest golfing value. We almost feel guilty finally sharing the secret.

4. Sand Valley — Sand Valley (Nekoosa) [1, P]

Like Lennon and McCartney, Coore and Crenshaw can’t stop turning out hits that thrill the public and critics alike, this time working their magic on a sea of prehistoric Wisconsin sand. After an opening tee shot from a massive dune dubbed The Volcano, Sand Valley bewitches players with firm fairways, majestic bunkers and one of the great punchbowl greens. Visionary owner Mike Keiser said the land reminded him of a cross between Sand Hills and Pine Valley. Coore and Crenshaw more than delivered on that promise.

5. Erin Hills (Hartford)

6. Sand Valley — Mammoth (Nekoosa) [P]

7. Pine Hills CC (Sheboygan)

8. Blackwolf Run — River (Kohler) [P]

9. Blue Mound (Wauwatosa)

10. SentryWorld (Stevens Point) [P]

11. West Bend CC (West Bend)

12. Club at Lac La Belle (Oconomowoc) [P]

13. Blackwolf Run — Meadow (Kohler) [P]

14. Stevens Point CC (Stevens Point)

15. Whistling Straits — Irish (Sheboygan) [P]

16. Kenosha CC (Kenosha)

17. Bull at Pinehurst Farms (Sheboygan Falls) [P, V]

18. Washington County (Hartford)

19. Eagle Springs — 9 holes (Eagle) [P]

20. Spring Valley CC (Kenosha)

How we rank our courses

For GOLF’s course rankings lists, each panelist is provided a list of hundreds of courses and “buckets,” or groupings. If they believe the course to be among the best in its category (World, U.S. Value, etc.), they check the corresponding box to place it in a specific bucket. Panelists are also free to write in courses they felt should have been included on the ballot. Points were assigned to each bucket; to arrive at an average score for each course, we divide its aggregate score by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses are then ranked accordingly.

The key to the process is the experience and expertise of our panel. Hailing from 15 nations and all the worldwide golf meccas, each of our 115 handpicked panelists has a keen eye for architecture, both regionally and globally. Many of our panelists have played more than 1,000 courses in 20-plus countries.

Because we don’t prescribe a set method to assess courses as other ranks do, no one opinion carries the day — our rank is a democracy. Some panelists believe that enjoyment is the ultimate goal, and thus prioritize design attributes such as width and playing angles, while frowning on upon having to constantly hunt for balls in thick rough. Other panelists value challenge and the demands of hitting every club in the bag. Still others consider a course’s surroundings and overall environment of paramount importance, thereby emphasizing the setting and naturalness of the course. In the end, allowing raters to freely express their tastes is what produces the desired eclecticism in our Top 100 lists.

Panelist integrity is vital. Voters with any ties or associations to eligible courses must flag such conflicts. Panelists also know not to let the quality of their play influence their ballot — same for a luxe experience or clubhouse. While opulence may make for a more a memorable outing, it’s not what GOLF’s course lists are about. Our focus is on design and architecture. We study the course, not the trappings around it.

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