The course at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club opened in 1926, seven years before it hosted the USPGA Championships when, interestingly, the nines were tackled in reverse order to the sequence they’ve been played since the 1960s.
Nowadays, holes 1 to 4 occupy the flatter part of the property, with brilliant green complexes – a Redan, Double Plateau, Biarritz and Alps – raising the profile of the opening holes, turning a stretch of mediocre holes into more memorable ones.
The downhill par three 7th (“Short”) and uphill par four 8th (“Punchbowl”) are highlights on the front nine then the back nine is routed into, around and out of a central valley before the sturdy par five 18th (“Long”) returns golfers to the clubhouse.
Bruce Hepner of Renaissance Golf Design was called in by the club in the late 1980s to restore a Seth Raynor gem that had been allowed to decay, weighed down by encroaching tree lines and greens that were only two thirds the size they once were.
Tom Doak called Blue Mound “a hot mess the first time I saw it” but credits Hepner “for helping the club clear out a forest of nursery trees and get the greens – some of the wildest I’ve seen in the Raynor /Macdonald collection – back to where they belonged”.
I’m willing to bet that if you were to ask 10 golfers to name 10 Raynor courses in the US, the clear majority of them would name the same clubs that we typically hear about. The best part of playing old classic courses in the US is the way in which hidden gems expose themselves and allow a celebration of their existence. If I were to ask the same 10 golfers to name a Raynor golf course in the state of Wisconsin, the room might get quiet in a hurry.
While the land at Blue Mound is relatively tame for most of the holes, there are pockets of land that offer splendid changes in elevation (eg: 8th hole punchbowl). The reason I loved Blue Mound was because it demonstrated Raynor’s ability to create his trademark template holes on a benign piece of land which aggregated into an enjoyable walk on a golf course that certainly won’t beat you up.
The conditioning was excellent as expected from a private club and I often commented on the beauty and relevance of the trees that carefully populated the property. It is heavenly parkland golf that flies effortlessly below every radar.