Lawsonia has become a must-visit for fans of Golden Architecture following the restoration of its Langford and Moreau Links course, however thoughts of growth began at the property much earlier. William "Rocky" Roquemore, an associate of Joe Lee, laid out the Woodlands route during the ‘80s.
Although the name of this 18 clearly sets expectations for the mature woodland to come, this course also features lake views and the same quarries experienced on the Links 18, and Roquemore created a set of heavily rolling greens, albeit in a style unique from the Langford and Moreau putting surfaces on the other side of the property.
Although some may see Lawsonia’s remote location as an impediment, the Woodland course — along with the continued attention to the Links course — makes Lawsonia a worthwhile 36-hole day for golfers looking to make a weekend trip from Milwaukee.
The Woodlands course simply does not get the love it deserves, sitting in the shadow of the great Links course as it does. The Woodlands course began in the 1980s with the addition of what they called the "South Nine", and at the time it was actually the star of the show at Lawsonia. Most times when you played in those days, you played one nine of the LInks (then the West and East nines) and the South nine. The added the North nine in the 1990s, giving us the two full courses we have today.
At some point, Lawsonia decided to really focus on and restore the Links course, which was a great move, except for the fact that the Woodlands really got a bit lost in the shuffle. It''s a great layout in its own right, and I've always particularly loved the first three holes. Hole two, the quarry hole, is built around an old quarry pit about 200 yards out from the tee. The fairway then runs along the quarry to the right down to the green, which is guarded by a huge old tree. In the background you have Judson Tower. Hole three, the cliff hole, is a par three that starts you off atop a bluff near Green Lake. The green is down a huge cliff (with a pretty scary cart path), with a major fall-off to the right and two sand traps in front. These are as good a golf holes as you will find anywhere. The rest of the course is perhaps less dramatic but no less enjoyable. Framed by the surrounding woods, you get a sense of peaceful isolation here, with some nice views of Green Lake thrown in as well. Of the remaining holes, the best are found on the back nine, particularly 14-16. Fifteen is a long par 4, steeply down hill, toward an elevated green. For 16 its back up the same steep hill for a par 4 that plays much longer than its yardage.
In recent times, my main complaint about the Woodlands has been that the conditioning is often not up to what you will find on the Links. I've also always thought the decision to sell lots and build houses (though very tasteful ones) around some of the holes was a terrible mistake that took away at least some of the original peaceful and isolated feeling you got there.
Thankfully, the current operators have seen fit to invest some real money into the course again, doing a substantial renovation (especially of the bunkering) to breath some new life into the course. I'm sure my star rating of the course will improve once this renovation is totally complete in May 2021.
I've been playing at Lawsonia just about every year for more than 30 years. If you are drawn there by the Links, don't forget its sister course. It's pretty, fun, well-designed, and you won't regret playing it. Your best bet is the all day rate at Lawsonia.