If you're in the mood
to make a 3-3½-hour trip across
the cheese curtain and you like to play golf, we have a suggestion
for you. Why not check out the old course in beautiful downtown
Edgerton, Wis.? If you do, you'll have a delicious slice of how golf
used to be and what makes it so great!
The Towne Country
Club, which happens to be the home course of the University of
Illinois' Steve Stricker, is a beautiful challenge nestled in the
hills and woods of southern Wisconsin. For the non-golfer, there are
plenty of small towns loaded with shops, and for the boaters,
swimmers and fisher persons, there are plenty of lakes and rivers
teeming with fish.
But back to the Towne
Club… What an interesting track. The old nine reminds you of the
nice nines that many Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin
courses built decades ago. What separates this one from most of the
other ones is the great elevation changes tucked in between the
groves of old trees. Also, on most of those courses the greens are
very small. The greens in Edgerton were at least medium size, and we
found them in pristine condition. There were a few that had two
tiers but not many that were unfair if you hit the green in any kind
of a good fashion at all.
I tried to rush from
the start and began with a horribly ugly 6, but luckily for me I had
only one more double the rest of the round.
Due to a much bigger
than expected bottleneck on the second hole and in the interest of
time, I moseyed back to the back. What I found there was a
spectacular layout that was a little more wide open but not any
easier. I got my fat gut (I've been eating for two now for almost
three years) into one and actually sent a drive 253 yards down the
fairway. Not any news to you big hitters, but that is cause to
rejoice in my party. I did a little dance that the snack cart girl
seemed to really enjoy. I then hit my wedge about 20 feet from the
hole. A nice birdie putt had a chance to go in, but it set up the
Up next was the
sneaky 122-yard, par-3 11th. I actually was a little strong on this
one but almost chipped in for the tweeter, settling for another
On 12 I hit a
260-yard drive -- all right, it was a little downhill, like hitting
it off a mountain peak -- which allowed me enough swings to garner a
The unlucky 13th,
uphill all the way to the green, proved lucky for me as I lucked
into another good drive followed by a nice 3-wood to the green. A
2-putt helped me salvage another par.
A romantic young
couple stepped aside on the 14th tee box, and you can guess what I
did. I bananaed one that flirted with the OB markers and trees. A
judicious ruling allowed me to stave off a really ugly number, and I
settled for a 5.
The 15th hole was a
very difficult par 5 as attested by the 4 handicap affixed to it.
And of course I dribbled one that made it a lot tougher. I also was
passed by a nice local kid on a mountain bike -- not something you
see on every course -- as the bike bath apparently runs along the
edge of this fairway. I somehow hacked my way through the valley and
back up the hill to take a brutal bogey.
From there it was on
to the hole that the former Illini is said to have designed. And the
Striker curse found me, as every shot I hit on the hole was
disastrous. However, that didn't take away from the elegance and
timeless beauty of the hole. It is a crescent-shaped hole that is
only 331 yards long, so you power faders and slicers do have a
chance here. Of course I over-adjusted and flirted with the OB, high
grass, critters, etc. Way off to the right is a pretty little pond
that only a golfer like me could ever bring into play!
The 17th and 18th are
two finishing holes that help golfers attain a decent final score.
What's interesting is
you finish the round a long way from the clubhouse; but you're in
cooler Wisconsin, so why should you care? And since I shot a
respectable 41 (are you kiddin', I was ecstatic!) on the back, I
really was numb and wasn't feeling much pain; that was to be thrust
upon me momentarily.
[to top of second column in this
If you're following
along closely, you know I needed to go back and finish up the rest
of the front nine. Holes two and three are that unique back-to-back
par-3 combination. And not only par 3, but VERY long par 3. The
227-yard one fooled me into taking an easier swing, and I was
probably lucky to take a bogey there.
I was mad as I
approached the second par 3 and hit such a good shot along the
fairway and through the woods surrounding the pin that even the
green wouldn't hold such a spectacular shot by me. It settled next
to the levee at the back of the green (also something you don't see
every day). I almost chipped in for birdie, which I probably
deserved. And that was the last par I saw all day.
But that didn't take
away from the majestic views and scenes of the Towne Club. Remember
when these courses use to name every hole? I have a few names for
them myself! The fourth was the "Sleepy Hollow" and one of the
prettiest holes I have played this summer. You play a blind tee shot
through a narrow fairway lined with huge old oak trees, over the
hump and down into the valley. The green sits at about a 30-40
degree angle and has a large crescent mound on its left side. Of
course my ball wanted to lodge behind that mound to see how soft a
landing you could make with an approach shot, and I couldn't.
The next hole was a
scoring hole that you had to make birdie on. I made a 5.
That would take you
to the 517-yard, par-5 fifth, the No. 1 handicap hole and definitely the
most unfair hole on the course: a blind shot off the tee to a
fairway of zillions of nooks and crannies, lined by hanging trees
and protected by a pond on the left. I felt more like Dorothy in the
"Wizard of Oz" going through the land of flying monkeys than I did a
golfer at this moment. (In fact, I seldom feel LIKE a golfer. I
wonder what that feels like?) After you make it through the valley
of nooks and crannies, it's all uphill to the hole from here, and
you can never see the green until you're on it. No wonder they call
this game golf! I escaped with a six and was just glad to get off
That would take you
to the downhill par-3 sixth, a cutesy little 178-yarder of pure
carry. I actually carried it, but 3-putted for a 4.
Two more scoring
holes finish the front nine, but I bogeyed them both to finish the
day at 85.
I was extremely
happy, because even though I didn't score well, I hit the ball as
well as I am capable of hitting it. That was either because of all
the cheese I ate or because of all the friendly Wisconsin bounces I
got on this course.
I had a great time
playing the Towne Club. The people were nice and very accommodating.
I met some locals on the second tee box who suggested going to the
back to save time. Their helpful tip saved me an hour or more!
With the rating scale
we've been using with five stars equaling a resort course and one
star designating a sandlot or farm field, I give this course in
Edgerton, Wis., 3¾-4 stars! That
is the highest rating we've given out this year to any course that
did not have a resort designation!
Thanks to Dennis
Rosenbaum and his staff for a truly rewarding and glorious
(To get to the
course, take Interstate 39 north out of Bloomington all the way
across the cheese curtain [the Wisconsin border] past Beloit [more
reviews on them later] and Janesville. Take Wisconsin 59 [I think
it's exit 163] west and turn right and north on Wisconsin 51. Go a
few blocks and turn right at the A & W, and it's only a few blocks
to the course from there. Tell the staff there that the LDN from
Lincoln, Ill., sent you.)