Beautiful conditions, lovely scenery, weird routing. Blackwolf Run is at the American Club, a high-end resort with all the trimmings. The River course sits mostly in a valley of the meandering Sheboygan River, which allows for some stunning holes where it comes into play, but complicates the routing. In my opinion, the course feels so disjointed because of the “transition” between the middle holes #5-#13 (the best par of the course, in my opinion) and the rest of the course. Holes #4 and #14 sit adjacent to a very artificial-looking pond and feel very contrived.
My favorite holes: #8, a massive dogleg right par five with a downhill tee shot off the bluff, #9, a crazy short par four with multiple angles of attack off the tee, #11, another long dogleg right par five around a sharp bend in the river, and #13, a beautiful par three that forces the player to carry the flowing river and shape the ball around some large trees. (I’m quite sure I’ve never played another par three quite like this one anywhere.) Finally, #18 is another long, dogleg left par four, with quite possibly the longest bunker that Pete Dye has ever built – it stretches from near the championship tee to right in front of the green!
Perhaps it was due to my poor play that day, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Blackwolf Run. As I mentioned, the scenery is pastorally beautiful and very different from the other top courses I’ve played in Wisconsin, with the Sheboygan River stealing the show in many places, but it played disappointingly soft (shocking though, it’s in a river valley!) and a bit too penal for my taste. It felt like one of the most “target golf” style courses Pete Dye ever built, which isn’t as much fun as its sister courses at Whistling Straits or many other places. That fact as well as the previously discussed disjointedness of the routing made for a great handful of holes, but not a truly great golf course. It is one of my least favorite Pete Dye layouts and absolutely should not be ranked above Lawsonia Links within the state of Wisconsin.
Played July 1, 2001
Date: December 17, 2018