Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 5: THE WISCONSIN DELLS (Wild Rock and Trappers Turn)














Wisconsin Dells. I guess I kept hearing about waterparks and waterparks and it being a great place to bring the family. And water parks. But, in my mind, I had it a little quaint Traverse City, Petoskey. You know, a casino down the road, but cute little boutiques and art galleries, punctuated by ice cream parlors and wine bars. WRONG! As we pass the Wisconsin Dells sign and then head onto what I will call the main drag... you encounter a tourist area like none other. The biggest touristy, cheesy, Wally World (and yes, there is a Wally World) type of experience (with a lot of water parks). We drive down the main drag and pass Famous Daves (yes, that's where we'll have lunch), every kind of tee shirt, vintage photo, candy store you can imagine. I could never have imagined this as Wisconsin Dells.

Tom and I want to go to Paul Bunyans for breakfast (we have a thing for doing touristy, non chain restaurant kinds of experiences and why wouldn't you want to go to a place with a huge Paul Bunyan outside). It doesn't open until 7 am, so we drive around -- past water park after water park. The best is Rome -- it has a Trojan Horse, the Parthenon, and about as much Roman cheese as you can handle. Right next to the upside down White House (that's themed Top Secret). Discover that Pete HATES eggs scrambled, as omelets, in any way except fried. So, when we find out that Paul Bunyan is family style only, with only scrambled eggs, we bypass it and go to Dennys (no, not the chain, but the Elvis Denny's) with it's world famous cinnamon rolls). What a way to start a morning before golf. Wondering if Wild Rock is going to be themed like the Flintstones, or something wacky. Pull into Wild Rock and you can tell we'll probably have a pretty decent experience. GPS in the carts, people at the bag drop.

Well, the wheels definitely fell off this morning on Wild Rock -- and it wasn't the course. We really liked Wild Rock (yes, they accept American Express). Felt like Michigan. Farm Houses, rolling woods, carry over canyon-like things. But, I happened to have a case of the dreadful s***ks (yes, the word I can't even bring myself to type in this blog). And I couldn't seem to cure it. And I couldn't get my driver to behave. Didn't help when you're having a mental kind of morning to have someone (Pete) tell me getting up to the teebox (I see a woodie coming on this shot) with trees all of the way down the right side. Just god awful. But, decided to do the seven wood play. See how many different shots I could pull off with that club. It ended up working for me (along with drinking three beers when the beer cart came along) enough to salvage a 43 on the back (with three pars in a row). And, they have a barn that was turned into the restrooms on the course. How cool is being able to pee in a barn?

After golf, we have some time to kill and decide to head to the main drag to go to Famous Dave's for lunch (BBQ). I'm not Texan so I'm not picky about BBQ. It was pretty decent. Then, a couple of tee shirt shops on their way to find ice cream. With lots of inappropriate tee shirts. Everyone knows I haven't been party to most of the Tiger jokes circulating, but this one was pretty funny. Don't need more than a couple of hours on the strip to be maxed out. Even though, it was great people watching and pretty amusing. Off to Trappers Turn (yes, they accept American Express)-- still wondering if this is going to have some crazy theme to it. On the range, I still have my issues and realize it's just going to be that kind of day that I probably don't fix it and the next day, with new shoes, a different hat, a different ball marker, different clothes, different golf course -- that I should be fine (yes, I'll blame just about everything even if I know it's all me, not my ball marker). So, rather than donate my money to charity (Dave), I decide not to play in the game (yes, you can do that if you want). Could have picked up a whole lot of trash when I chipped in for birdie on the second hole (that'd be birdie, net eagle, chippie, skin). The mosquitos were definitely biting at Trappers Turn. Great course, but clearly need to play it a couple of times before you know where you should (or should not) be going.

Wild Rock (http://www.wildrockgolf.com/)

Day 4, University Ridge and Ice Cream










Off to Madison we go to play University Ridge, the University of Wisconsin's course (http://www.universityridge.com/). We have the afternoon off to visit the city and the university, look for co-eds, and have ice cream.

Started with stopping in Lodi for breakfast (because it's where Susie the Duck hails -- http://www.lodiwisconsin.com/). I thought the story about Susie would be more interesting, but you can read all about it if you want. Guess they needed something. Breakfast was good -- but thank goodness we weren't in any particular rush, because we were there quite a while. "Leisurely service" might be an appropriate term to use.

Keep on to University Ridge. Get there and you guessed it-- pretty well branded everywhere from the turf to the trashcans with University of Wisconsin or Badger related items. Very red and black. Since I went to Northwestern for year, Dad went to Purdue, Andrew to Ohio State, Allison to Penn State, and Tony is definitely not a Big Ten fan, don't see myself buying much in the proshop at this course. But, looks great. The front nine is a "link-ish" style course. The back nine is more "woodlands." Very true. I play great on the front (carded two birdies that were really close to eagles) and awful on the back. Felt like some of the Michigan courses. Great condition, soft greens. Only thing we didn't like was the sand -- on the front, it was pebbly and on the back, it was so soft that the sand came around my ankles. And, we had lunch provided with our green fees. And, they accepted American Express.

University Ridge opened its doors in 1991 and has received many awards, including in 2009:
#7 in “Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play” Wisconsin-Golfweek; Reader’s Choice Awards “Top 50 in country” Public category-GolfWorld; #1 Rated Course in Wisconsin-Golflink.com; #47 Top 100 United States Golf Courses-Golflink.com.

Not bad. After golf, we head downtown to go check out State Street (supposedly "the street" in Madison). Unfortunately, because of a lot of construction, we had to weave our way to State Street. Parked, found ice cream, and then visited the Capitol building (they have a Liberty Bell -- Freeport-McMoRan does need to change the sponsorship from Phelps Dodge to FCX since Phelps Dodge is no longer). State Street didn't seem to be as "wild" as we heard. But then, school hasn't started yet so may be on the quiet side.

Enough of this. Decide to head back to Pete's with a stop at Milty Wilty on the way home. You can tell that we really like Milty Wilty (W7411 State Road 21, #73, Wautoma, WI 54982). They don't have a website that I would say is their website, but you can send them your pictures with you wearing your Milty Wilty tshirt for them to post. Poor waitress was a little overwhelmed with us and managed to have some trouble with our orders. But, we're in no rush.
Another adventure tomorrow!

Day 3, Northern Bay and Sentry World













Ok, we have more driving to do on Day 3, playing Northern Bay and then heading to Stevens Point (over an hour away from Northern Bay) to play Sentry World. Hoping to stop and have breakfast along the way (but given yesterday's experience, we may be eating at the clubhouse again). We were lucky to find a little cafe pretty close to Northern Bay. We walk in and a guy at the counter says "you must be the golfers." Duh. Guess they get a lot of us in there.
We pull into Northern Bay (http://www.northernbayresort.com/) and it reminds me and Tom of Boyne. Newer condos, nice cars parked out front, nice clubhouse. Kinda log-cabin style. We're running on the trunk slamming side timing wise, since breakfast took a little longer than we planned. And, again, Northern Bay does not accept American Express. The weather is a little on the "chilly side" so we're feeling like we're in Michigan. And the course, played like Michigan, only these were replica holes from Augusta, TPC Sawgrass, Oakmont, etc. This course definitely needs to be on a course to play in Wisconsin. Except for having to pass a really slow threesome at the turn (#10 is the TPC Sawgrass #17 hole). Northern Bay is definitely a must play on a Wisconsin golf trip. We buy brats for the road to eat on the way to Sentry World.
Sentry World (http://www.sentryworld.com/) is part of Sentry Insurance and it's facility is pretty enormous, with lots of tennis courts. They do take American Express! Parking lot is pretty empty and we get on earlier than our 3 pm tee time. Gary, our starter, is a trip. Here's another Michigan like experience and the course is very picturesque. Especially the 17th hole par 3 that is surrounded by flowers (free drop if you hit in their -- local rule that is a two stroke penalty if you don't adhere to it). Gorgeous and sweet smelling. Not necessarily on the top of my list, but we enjoyed ourselves (until the mosquitos came out).
Finish up and head to dinner at a place recommended by the cart kids. We even tried fried cheese curds (tasted like fried mozzarella sticks). We're also sticking to Wisconsin beer. Like Wisconsin Amber (the beer for Badgers) and Leinenkugal is pretty tasty. And Spotted Cow (which Tom calls Spotted Monkey). When a tourist,be a tourist, is our motto!

Day 2, Lake Arrowhead Lakes and Pines





First day of two a days begin on Sunday. This means getting up really early and heading out, hoping to stop for breakfast along the way. Today: Lake Arrowhead Lakes and Pines (http://www.lakearrowheadgolf.com/)

Since it's our first trip with Dave and Pete, Tom and I don't know if they'll be dragging to the car or sitting in the car when we plan on heading out. They are the latter (yeah), at least for the first day.
Head out to Lake Arrowhead. Corn, lots of corn, along the way, but pretty much no "civilization" until we get to the club. Moment we get out of the car, mosquitos begin their onslaught on us.

Since there was nothing to eat along the way to the clubhouse, the nice lady in the restaurant made us breakfast sandwiches (we also experienced some of the regulars already hitting the bloody marys and beer -- may not be a bad idea). Pay for our round (they don't accept American Express) and range balls, off to loosen some stiff muscles. With the defective tokens (or range machine), Pete looks like he wants to break the machine (but doesn't).

Lake Arrowhead is WELL POPULATED WITH MOSQUITOS. But, we come prepared and spray away. Unfortunately, we discover throughout the day, that the stuff we brought -- well, the skeeters liked it. And us. Never in our Michigan trips have we encountered this many mosquitos. And, it's on the warm side. But, they do have a Michigan feel to it. Problem with the Pines course is that it's Sunday, and it's "couples/family" day on the course. SLOW, slow, slow. But, we're on vacation. And we're golfing.

Head back after our round and wash up and head into Waubash (civilization) for dinner at a restaurant Pete's been talking about for weeks (I can't remember if they take American Express). And, we discovered a new place on our way to Culvers for ice cream: Milty Wilty's (they only take CASH, no credit cards) -- the Waubash version of Petoskey's Bob In. Not quite the same, but not that different. Very Happy Days-ish. Tom and Dave buy tshirts. This is definitely part of our Michigan experience.

Back to Pete's house and crash to prepare for Day 3 of Wisconsin (I suppose we need to come up with real names for our trips).

Off to Wisconsin, Day 1













Well, morning started off uneventful in Dallas. Woke up, didn't have trouble getting Tony up (THANK YOU TONY, FOR TAKING ME AND TOM TO THE AIRPORT), picked up Tom and headed to the airport. Who knew that curbside checkin wasn't open at 5 am. So, pulled up top -- Pete was sitting outside waiting for us. Checked in (who knew that at 5 am only one person would be working the desk).

Got on plane, took off. I have a Kindle, Touch, Camera, Phone and Netbook. Opted to continue watching the first season of LOST (yes, I'm behind the times).

Landed, got bags (first off), picked up the minivan and headed to the Harley Davidson Museum to check it out and get Tony a tshirt. Museum was pretty cool. Very "motorcycle architecture" and awesome interactive displays. Pete keeps talking about how starving he is, so we get out of there and head to Erin Hills (http://www.erinhills.com/ ). Their website said not to go by GPS. So, with our redundant system, I have hard copy driving directions printouts to accompany the Garmin. It's definitely in the middle of nowhere and we keep wondering where the PGA Tour players will stay when the US Open is there in 2017 (Tiger may want to stay at Holy Hill, http://www.holyhill.com -- Holy Hill is located in southeast Wisconsin, on the highest elevation in that part of the state. According to their website, it "provides the visitor with the opportunity for spiritual enrichment." And, if we had time, we probably would have gone and visited it, because it's pretty impressive.
Doing pretty good directionwise until right at the end. Find another course, ask two guys -- they say that we're a long way away and send us back where we came. Don't know what their long way away was, but pulled the printed directions out and we were only a couple of miles off [note to people going to Erin Hills -- it's not well marked yet, but they are doing a lot of construction, probably in preparation for the US Open in 2017]. Pull up, unload the car, reload the car. Go find Ben, the man who has been so helpful on this trip. He looks just like you'd think Ben would look like (btw, they take American Express, a theme on this trip when you read posts to follow).
Lunch is pretty nice outside on the patio at Erin Hills (think Dave is going to beer and brats his way through Wisconsin). Their beer-battered fries were pretty darn tasty.

Their driving/practice facility is washed out after lots of rain these last couple of weeks. So, with a couple of putts, off we go with our caddies Ben (from Pittsburgh PA) and Randy (from Frederick MD).

Here's the kicker on the caddies: Ben has been laden with my bag and Pete's TOUR BAG. Ben's a big guy, but Pete's bag must weigh 70 pounds. Poor Ben. We said Poor, Poor, Poor Ben a whole lot more when we realized how many hills we would go up (why does it seem you never go down a hill, only up?)

Erin Hills is gorgeous. The clubhouse is a rustic-looking building with a locker room downstairs. Looks old, but is probably pretty new (but I'll have to check that). The course has a lot of gorse on either side of the fairway. Not much water. In the wind, which we didn't have, it will definitely be more challenging than it was the day we played it.

After our round, another couple of rounds of drinks. We contemplated dinner, since it was a pretty good lunch. But, decided to get on the road and head to Pete's in Hancock. Ice cream time anyway. Not far down the road, we encountered quickly on the left a custard place. Brats and custard will fill us up for dinner and the rest of the way. Garmin took us the "scenic" route, seeming to take a turn every few miles until we got on 39. But, we get to Pete's Mom's House. Kinda dark, and we're kinda tired, so we pretty much crash. Time to start Day 2.

REMINDER: I am not a graphic designer. I am not a web developer. Therefore, there is nothing aesthetically pleasing about this blog. I upload pictures and where they show up, they show up. You can figure out what picture goes with what story.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Itinerary Set for Wisconsin

After much planning, our Wisconsin Golf Trip is locked and loaded. I am now working on the spreadsheet with the course ratings, slopes and yardages from the variety of tee boxes we will have the opportunity to choose from.

Here it is:

Saturday, July 31
Fly to Milwauke
Harley Davidson Museum
Erin Hills, 136 pm (host of the 2017 US Open)

Drive to Pete's Mom's Christmas Tree Farm

Sunday, August 1
Lake Arrowhead, Lakes, 800 am
Lake Arrowhead, Pines, 148 pm

Monday, August 2
Northern Bay, 745 am
Sentry World, 300 pm

Tuesday, August 3
University Ridge in Madison, 10 am
Afternoon free for Ice Cream and Antiquing

Wednesday, August 4
Wild Rock, 830 am
Trappers Run, 348 pm

Thursday, August 5
Lawsonia, Woodlands, 800 am
Lawsonia, Links, 130 pm
Drive to Combined Locks to stay at Appleton Farmhouse (thanks, Kim, Kelley, everyone at Appleton Coated Paper)

Friday, August 6
[this day is many thanks to Ben at Erin Hills who has gotten us on these private courses]
Green Bay Country Club
Drive by Lambeau Field, eat at Curly's
Oneida Country Club

Saturday, August 7
Drive to Milwaukee and fly back to Dallas

Three weeks to go!