After my round at Canyata, I made the five hour drive to Milwaukee, Wiscousin where I was scheduled to play at the Milwaukee Country Club on the next afternoon. The road to playing a round at Milwaukee Country Club was longer than the drive from Canyata. I met Mike on the driving range at Prairie Dunes Country Club back near the end of June. Prairie Dunes was the fourth course on my quest to play in one year, the top 100 courses in the United States as ranked by Golf Digest. I was on the practice range. I started up a conversation with the guy hitting balls next to me . His name was Kurt. As we talked, we discovered that I had worked with his uncle when my office was in Fairfax, Virginia. Kurt lived in Austin, Texas. I told him that I lived in Houston and Atlanta. He asked if I was playing by myself. I explained that I was playing a morning round by myself and then would join my host for a round later that afternoon and on the next morning. I also told him about my quest. Once I did, he told he that he had someone he wanted to introduce me to.
Kurt then call over a friend and introduced us. He told his friend Mike, who also lived in Austin, about my quest. Mike said, "wow, that's a lot of golf." He then asked if I had someone who was coordinating this quest for me. That’s when Kurt looked at him and said “yes, you and me!” Thus, began my relationship with a key contact for my Quest. Later in the day, Mike and I exchanged contact information. He asked which clubs I’d found to be the toughest to gain access to. While this was only my fourth course, I had already started to map out my plan for playing all 100 courses. I had a lead on or an idea on how I would gain access to several. One course had already been a challenge. I knew several people who either lived in Wiscousin or knew someone who lived in Wiscousin. I had struck out with every one of them on identifying someone who was a member at Milwaukee Country Club. Most of them had not ever heard of the Milwaukee Country Club, let alone knew someone who belonged to it. Mike told me that he might be able to help me with that one. He said he had a friend whose brother was a member there and that he would contact him on my behalf. I thought that was quite kind of Mike to make the offer.
Over the coming weeks Mike and I kept in touch and at some point, in July, he made the introduction to his friend’s brother, Pat. Pat agreed to host me. We eventually settled on Friday, September 15th as the date we would play. With this confirmation, the course that I’d had the most difficult time with up to this point was now in the bag. Throughout my quest, I’ve been asked which course was the toughest to gain access to. Most expected to hear me say Augusta National, Pine Valley or Cypress. I was very fortunate that my wife identified someone who could help with me with Augusta and I while I have not yet played Pine Valley and Cypress, I have contacts for those. The problem course had been Milwaukee Country Club. It is a very tough course to gain access to and they are very firm on not allowing unaccompanied play. This was reinforced when I talked to Skip the Head Pro at the club and his assistant pro’s.
I was very familiar with the location of Milwaukee Country Club. It was in River Hills just north of Milwaukee and adjacent to Brown Deer. I had stayed in a hotel in Brown Deer when I played the other three top 100 courses that are in Wiscousin. I stayed at the same hotel on this trip.
After a leisurely morning at my hotel, I made the short drive to River Hills and to the Milwaukee Country Club. I met Pat as I was walking to the club house. We introduced ourselves and headed into what had to be the very best Men’s Locker Room in the Country. It was certainly the top Men’s Locker Room that I’d seen. The locker room is spacious and has character. There is a lot of wood, and I like wood. You can see the trusses in the rafters. It’s difficult to describe, but it was very impressive.
After changing shoes, we headed to the practice range. On the way, I met the other two members of our foursome. Pat had told me that one of them also lived in Atlanta. When I met Danny, I noticed the symbol on his cap was the same as the symbol from my home club. Turns out that not only is Danny a member of my club in Atlanta, he was once the Club Champion. Again, what a small world. Tim was the fourth member of our foursome. Pat and Tim currently worked together, and Danny was doing some consulting work for their company. All three of them had worked together years earlier at one of the big four consulting firms.
Milwaukee Country requires that members with quest tee off from the tenth tee. I don’t recall whether this was a rule for any time or just on Friday afternoons, but it was in place for our round on this Friday afternoon. It was a very busy Friday afternoon at the club, so there were no caddies available. We chose to walk with push carts. This meant that I would not be able to take notes during the round, therefore this blog will be a very abbreviated summary of my round at Milwaukee Country Club.
Danny is an outstanding golfer. He chose to play from the tips which measure 7100 yards. Full of confidence following my round at Canyata on the previous day where I played well at a distance of 6800 yards, I chose to join Danny on the tips. Pat and Tim chose the more sensible tees. Well I guess it was sensible for Danny the black tees. I think he shot even par or close to it. I on the other hand struggled from the tips. I over swung to try to keep up with Danny. That didn't go well for me on several of my drives.
The tenth hole is a short par five, even from the black tees it was only playing 485 yards. The hole is just long and straight. There are several bunkers along the right side, but that is still the side to miss on. The left of the fairway is lined with trees and gives you a bad angle to the green. I made a double bogey on the hole after hitting a short drive in the fairway on the left side. I laid up and then missed the green on the left with my approach shot. The green was elevated. I pitched on with my fourth shot which rolled across the green and off the right side. I pitched on and two putted.
I also made a double bogey on the 11th hole. The hole bends from right to left with the river that is to the right of the fairway and on the other side of the trees that hug the right side of the fairway. The fairway also bends around a cluster of bunkers on the left side. I hit my drive to just short of that cluster of bunkers.
The green is elevated with a false front and has bunkers on the left, the right and behind it. The flag was just beyond the ridge line for the false front. I landed my approach shot onto the front of the green. I didn’t carry the false front. My ball rolled down the slope of the green and off the front.
To ensure that ball didn’t come back to my feet after my chip, I pitched too far beyond the flag and into the back bunker. My sand shot landed on the green and I two putted.
I think this was the first time that I had opened a round with two double bogeys.
I made bogeys on the next three holes; the 190 yard par 3 twelfth hole, the 390 yard par four thirteenth hole and the 410 yard par four fourteenth hole.
The twelfth plays over the river to a green that is guarded by three bunkers that almost completely outline the front and sides of the green. I hit my tee shot into the left front bunker. I then hit my sand shot onto the green and two putted.
The thirteenth hole is the only hole on the course that plays from tee box to green on the east side of the river. The hole is almost the mirror image of the 11th hole. The fairway bends 90 degrees from left to right with a rather large bunker situated on the right side and inside the bend. The safe play is to hit a 235 to 245 yard drive straight out from the tee box which would leave a straight shot of about 140 yards to the green. I hit my drive straight, but it carried about 250 yards through the fairway into the first cut of rough.
The fairway narrows and slopes left to right as it approaches a green that has long bunkers running along the left and right sides. I left my approach shot just short of the green. I chipped on and two putted for the bogey.
The tee boxes for the fourteenth hole is on the east bank with the river bending around and in front of them. With the fairway on the West bank, the drive requires a carry of about 190 yards from the black tees to reach the long and narrow fairway. The fairway has a slight left to right dogleg and a bunker to the right of the fairway at about 290 yards from the tips. That put the bunker out of play for me. My drive landed in the right rough, about 30 yards short of the bunker.
I missed the green to the left when my approach shot didn’t fade. My ball landed in the bunker. I hit onto the green with my sand shot and again two putted.
At 585 yards, the fifteenth hole is the longest par five hole on the course. All I remember about this hole is that I made a double bogey after not being able to find my ball after my drive and having to return to the tee box to hit my third shot. I had popped my drive up, short and to the left. Searched as we might, we couldn’t find my ball. The fairway on this hole is long and narrow.
The longest par four on the course, follows the longest par five. The sixteenth hole plays 485 yards from the tips and requires a pair of big boy undies to reach the green in two. I didn’t have my big boy undies so I didn't reach the green in two. I missed the green with my third shot. I pitched on to tap in distance and felt good about the bogey that I made on the hole.
In keeping with the theme of successive longest holes, the 17th hole is the longest par three on the course. It plays 232 yards from the black tees. I bogeyed the hole. I recall that I hit my tee shot to the right, but don’t remember whether I went in the bunker that ran along the right side of the green or whether I landed to the right of the bunker. In either case I reached the green in two and two putted.
The back nine finishes with the treacherous 18th hole. The fairway is long and narrow with an s curve shift from right to left at about 240 yards from the black tees. There are bunkers on both sides of the fairway as it shifts. The tee box points you at the bunkers on the left. The hole plays a total of 440 yards. My drive landed just inches from the bunker on the left side of the fairway.
I hit my second shot short, about 100 yards from the green. I put my third shot about 8 feet right of the flag. I missed my par put and finished the back nine without a single par and a score of 48.
The first hole at Milwaukee Country Club is just long, narrow, and straight. The hole plays 435 yards from the black tees. There are bunkers to the left and right of the fairway starting at about 230 yards from the tee box. I missed the fairway and made a bogey on the hole.
The second hole is even longer at 455 yards. It too has a narrow fairway framed by trees, but it isn’t straight. It has a slight dogleg to the right that leads to a small green with bunkers that line the left and right sides. I made a double bogey on the hole after hitting a pop up on my drive.
Given the round that I was having, a miracle or two happened on the third hole. The hole is a longer of version of the treacherous 18th hole. The fairway shifts twice. First its shifts from the right to the left and then shifts back to the right at about 100 yards from the green. At each shift there are bunkers. The green also has bunkers along the left and right sides. The first miracle was that I hit the fairway.
On my second shot, my ball faded into the trees to the right of the fairway. I found my ball, but didn’t have much of a shot. I chip out of the trees into the rough about 80 yards from the green. This is when the second miracle and miracles of all miracles happened. I pitched my next shot onto the green and into the cup for a birdie.
In a round with no pars, I now had a birdie. Go figure!
I made a bogey on the 200 yard par three fourth hole and my last double bogey of the day on the 434 yard par four fifth hole. I don’t recall my shots on the fourth hole, but on the fifth hole, I hit my drive to the fairway and missed the green to the left, landing in the bunker on my approach shot. I took two shots to get out of the bunker and two putted for the double.
The sixth hole is the fourth consecutive 430 yards plus hole on the front nine. Come to think of it, only two of the five par fours on the back nine were under 440 yards. I guess that’s what you get when you play a course from more than 7000 yards. Like most of the other long par fours, the sixth hole has a long and narrow fairway. Again, there are bunkers to the left around right of the fairway at about 220 to 250 yards from the tee box. I missed the fairway, hit my approach shot short and into the left rough. I pitched on and two putted for a bogey.
The seventh hole is the third toughest hole on the course, which is odd given that it is a par five that is shorter than the longest par four on the course which is rated as the fourth hardest hole. The hole measures 480 yards from the black tees. It bends slightly to the right about 230 yards from the tee box. There is a snake like bunker on the right side of the fairway right as it bends.
I managed to find the fairway with my drive. I then hit my approach shot into the bunker on the right side of the green. I parred the hole after hitting my sand shot onto the green and two putting. It only took sixteen holes, but I finally made a par.
The eighth hole is the final and shortest of the par threes. It measures 175 yards and is fully guarded by bunkers on the front and along the sides except for a small slither on the right front positioned on the opposite side of where Humphrey Bogart’s cigarette would hang from his month, “here’s looking at you, kid.”
My second par of the round came quickly, I missed the green and landed my tee shot on the eighth hole in the left green side bunker.
I hit my sand shot to two feet and made the putt.
I was feeling good about my last four holes and looking to finish out with a par on the short par four ninth hole. At 325 yards, it was 50 yards shorter than the next shortest par four on the course. The hole is about as wide open as a hole gets at Milwaukee Country Club. All the trouble on the hole is to the right of the fairway. There is a series of bunkers to the right of the fairway that start at about 220 yards out and continues until about fifty yards from the green. Of course, I hit my drive to the right to about 100 yards from the middle of the green and just inches short of the second bunker in the series of bunkers to the right of the fairway.
My ball was sitting up in the rough. I got under the ball with my sand wedge on my approach shot and left it short of the green. I chipped on and ended my round with a two putt bogey and a score on 43 for the front nine. My total score for the round was a 91.
I would again like to thank Mike for the introduction to Pat, and Pat for his kindness and generosity in hosting me at Milwaukee Country Club.