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.
If you played The Links course first The Woodlands will be respite and completely different look and feel. The first hole is a welcoming par five. Reachable by some, it leans left off the tee and then comes back to the right. There are fairway bunkers left in the landing zone and as one would expect, it is tree-lined. Playa it safe as a three shotter and you should be putting for birdie. Not sure why this is the number three handicap hole. The 2nd is an interesting hole and difficult to describe, but I will give it a go. A short par four that goes left. At about 130 yards out the fairway is approximately 80 yards wide. However, if you go down the right side less than 120 out the fairway runs out and you will end up in a ravine and/or water hazard. While the fairway is extended left it narrows to about 25 yards and you may have tree trouble. My advice, layup off the tee down the right side. The 3rd is a valley par three and is the shortest hole. The left leaning 4th has no hazards other than being tree-lined. Favor right of center off the tee or risk being blocked out. The 5th is longer and bends right. Favor left of center off the tee. The 6th is a Florida par three with a right front bunker and one left. The 7th is the longest par five and the last part of it is uphill. Favor the left off the tee, the hole tilts right and there is a water hazard on the inside elbow starting about 250 yards out. Should not be the number one handicap hole. The 8th and 9th are similar holes leaning a little bit left and the yardage difference is 8 yards.
The back starts with a short hard dogleg left. There is a fairway bunker on the inside elbow and that is a little over 200 yards to clear. I would be surprised if some folks don’t drive it, I just know I was found wanting. The 11th is the shortest par five and is definitely reachable. There is a water hazard left and strangely this may be a hole where it is safer to go for it. At points the fairway is less than 20 yards wide. The 12th is a straightaway short par four. The par 3 13th is rated as the easiest hole. The straightaway 14th is the longest par four. The 15th is a dogleg right, stay left to make sure that you are not blocked out. The 16th is a mid-length par three with one of the longest greens on the course and a water hazard left. The 17th tilts left and this is one of the better protected greens. The 18th is a par five that doglegs right at the end and the last 100 yards is uphill. Favor the left side to ensure that you are not blocked out.
A good course that should not try to compete with it’s more renowned sibling.
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.