Why a central Wisconsin hidden gem was my favorite course I played in 2023

Mascoutin Golf Club

Mascoutin Golf Club in Berlin, Wisconsin.

Courtesy of Mascoutin Golf Club

At GOLF.com, travel — and playing golf — is a part of the gig. Here, as we count down the final days of 2023, is a look at some of the favorite courses our staffers played over the past 12 months.


How stupid was I?

OK, don’t answer that. 

But seriously, I had not one phone photo of Mascoutin Golf Club, my favorite golf course I played in 2023? Not even an Instagram story? Not even the scorecard? Nope. My golf buddies had nothing, either. What fools were we. 

But maybe that’s OK. This exercise might still be fun. 

If I woulda snapped a pic, I coulda been good with one of any of the 27 holes on the property tucked away in central Wisconsin. The tall, overseeing oaks and pines. The soft, rolling fairways. The never-quitting skyline. All sublime to the eyes. But then you grit your teeth from the opening bell. You fight. Twelve rounds, over 18 holes (only 18 are open per day). If I woulda snapped a pic, I coulda been good with hole No. 1 on the White nine, a dogleg right, heavily guarded by trees and sand. The course’s website tells me it’s the No. 2 handicap hole. Which is followed by the No. 1 handicap hole, the 2nd, a tight par-5. 

How tight? If I woulda snapped a pic, I woulda not needed to turn my phone horizontally to capture all of the fairway. And that was the theme throughout. Things were a bit claustrophobic. But the course is also short. So you had to hit shots and play all of your bag’s clubs. We like that in our best courses, right? In our best holes?

Like the 6th, which the website reminds me is a 402-yard par-4 from the second of five tees. (And that’s another nice touch — you can play it up; you can play it back.) There’s also a lake on the right on 6. If I woulda snapped a pic, I coulda been good with one of my buddy Matt trying to fish his ball out. 

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The 9th was a favorite, too. It’s just a 371-yard par-4. But there’s a squeeze in the middle. And at the green, there’s sand on the left, and there’s water on the right. But oh man, if I woulda snapped a pic, I coulda been good with a selfie. I shot a one-over 37, my best nine of the year. And never did I feel I had worked harder for a beer at the turn. So I bought one. And one for each of the boys, too. The selection was good.

Wait, wait, wait. 

Did I just take you all this way on this story of the favorite course I played in 2023, only for the course to possibly be my favorite just because I shot my year’s lowest number? Partially. You can’t blame me. I’m not going to write about a course where I shot 10-over for nine. 

Or would I?

Yeah, I shot a 46 on the second nine, the blue nine. LOL. But here’s the thing: Nice shots shook your hand at this course; not-so-nice ones kicked your backside. We like that, too, in our best courses. And the truth is, my second nine’s holes were perhaps better than the first’s.

Like No. 2. If I woulda snapped a pic, I coulda been good with one here, one of the quirkiest holes I’ve ever played. The dogleg left is just 353 yards, though you have about 353 options to play. You can follow the fairway out to the right — but the fairway also stops at about 200 yards and your second shot is likely blind, because it’s straight downhill. You can try to cut the corner and go for the green — but sand lines the entire left side and the green is not visible. Me? I played it down the fairway, hit over the green, hit two bunker shots around the green and two-putted for a double-bogey six — again, immediately after that 37.     

From there, I made some pars, and I made some bogeys. And a triple. On the par-5 6th, a double dogleg (right, then left). That was a hole. If I woulda snapped a pic, I coulda been good with one of me among all the tall vegetation. 

And then we were done. 

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And the next day, we played at Lawsonia, a GOLF Top 100 in the U.S. course. That’s another thing. The distance between the two is just 10 miles. Go ahead and make a trip of it. Me and my buddies did. 

But yeah, I took no photos of Mascoutin, my favorite course I played in 2023. No Instagram stories. I musta left the scorecard in the cart. 

But maybe that’s OK. 

Maybe that’s a sign that you’ve found something so good, you get lost in the moment a bit. We love that in our golf. And don’t worry, you won’t forget. You don’t lose memories like these.  

Sometimes you even write stories about them. 

Awwww. We’ll close with this, though: 

So how did I get the photo at the top of this story?

On a cold December Thursday, I called the course. I talked some golf with Todd DeRuyter, Mascoutin’s office manager. He told me his course takes pride in its guests. Mascoutin even remembers its regulars’ beer order. 

And now I have some pics.  

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.