Our final day was spent at Blackwolf Run, the elder of the two Kohler properties. If I had to describe the ambiance of Blackwolf Run, I’d say it was summer camp but instead of team building exercises and possible leech encounters you have pristine golf conditions and a real good time.
The clubhouse was like an opulent cabin, if that is even a thing. The property is home to two courses, the Meadow and the River. We had a morning tee time at the River.
Nary a blade of grass out of place, the River course was all Dye all the time. Full of risk and what felt like little reward now and again the River was challenging and enjoyable.
The front 9 was a chance to get reintroduced with parkland golf. A lot of forced carries and demanding tee shots. The forth hole, an all carry, with water on the right, par 3 was Dye just doing his thing. Not getting wet was never an option. The fifth and eighth both provided memorable views from the elevated tees. Fun fact, photobombing the course is America's tallest flagpole measuring 400 feet with a 120 x 60 foot flag. Old Glory is prevalent on holes 5 and 6.
A walking course it is not. Plenty of real estate separated a few of the holes and the elevation changes would have been taxing to say the least. After the 36 the previous day the ability to drive your cart directly to your ball was a much appreciated novelty.
The back 9 was my favorite. Dye gave you options off the tee. Those options were often risk vs. a lot of risk but that is what you come to expect from his design. With a number of holes coming in under 350 (9, 14, 15) the driver was put away a couple of times, a change of pace I appreciate. Then again, maybe that was some necessary rest because playing into the wind the par 4 18th was playing all of 440 and then some. I ended up finishing with a double for an 81, a disappointing finish to pretty flawless trip.
Kohler properties are not built with the easy golf in mind. When we asked our caddies what the highest score they witnessed was they all agreed it was in the ballpark of 180. Not ideal. That being said both properties embrace who they are and make no apologies for it.
After a hearty cabin themed lunch (the soup was hot) it was time to hit the showers and put a bow on this trip. I'd like to say getting home was smooth but that wouldn't be the whole truth. Luckily Mike is the Tiger Woods of travel and helped me navigate the last minute bus trip to Chicago and the O'Hare security. In the end it made for a great way to cap off the trip.
I have had the distinct pleasure of going on golf related excursions in Oregon, California, Florida, Texas, and now Wisconsin. The term “vibe” often gets over used but in this case I do believe each location does have it’s own identity and Wisconsin is no different. Wisconsin is easy to get to (not so easy to leave...), enjoyable, and proud of what it is. I’ll be the first to admit that a trip of this magnitude comes at a cost, one that I'd rather not break down in dollars and cents therefore I cannot express the worthiness of making the trip to Wisconsin in that context. However, I will guarantee that if you do find yourself with 72 hours to spare and want to play 72 holes of golf, Wisconsin is hard to beat.
Editor’s Note: Sand Valley was not in play for this particular trip but undisclosed sources are saying that I am turning 40 next summer and that Kaiser’s Wisconsin wonderland is where such a celebration will take place. Stay tuned.
As alway, Enjoy Golf!