By Scott Taylor
Early this spring I was looking up golf courses in Wisconsin Dells and came across the Castle Course at Northern Bay Resort.
It immediately caught my eye and made me want to play it.
When my family went on a mini vacation to the Dells last week, it was the first place I called to set up a review and my wish was granted.
Even though the course is about 40 minutes north of the Dells, it was well worth the trip.
The thing that is unique about this course is it has several replica holes the pros on the PGA TOUR play. When I saw that, I was sold.
The first couple holes on the course aren’t replica holes. The first is a short par-4 with vacation houses to the right, which scared me with my slice. I managed to just miss them.
The first replica hole is the third hole, which mimics the 16th hole at Augusta National, the home of the Masters.
It is a par-3 that plays 170 yards from the blue tees, which is the replica yardage. There is water on the front left of the green and a big slope on the green, which led to me three-putting for bogey. There was someone behind me or I would have attempted the chip shot Tiger Woods made to help win the 2005 Masters.
Next is another replica hole, the fifth hole at Oakland Hills, which has hosted the US Open and PGA Championship in 2007. There is a gully in the middle of the fairway that the long drivers have to worry about. It plays at 465 from the blue tees for the replica yardage, a par-4. There also is a tough pot bunker I found in front of the green.
The fifth hole offers a break from the replica holes before the final replica hole on the front, the par-5 sixth hole. This is a massive hole, which plays at a replica yardage of 625 from the black tees and 586 from blue. It is the 16th hole at Firestone Country Club, which hosts the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational. Not only is it long, there is a pond to the front right of the green, where second or third shots could land in.
While the final three holes on the front nine aren’t replica holes, they are still fun to play.
The back nine starts with the most famous and copied replica hole of all, the island green at TPC Sawgrass, the 17th hole. This is a short hole at 132 yards from replica yardage, but always poses a threat for the pros, especially on windy days. It was no problem for me though as I made a routine par. Many courses have since copied the island green layout, but none as perfect as here, with the same wall around the green that is found at Sawgrass.
My favorite hole in the world is the next hole, and that is a replica of the 13th hole at Augusta National.
It plays at 510 yards at replica yardage, but just a 465-yard par-5 from the blue tees. It is a dogleg left with a creek running down the left side of the fairway. There also is a creek in front of the green and bunkers behind the green, adding to the dangers for the approach shot. They have even copied the famous bridges that you walk on to get over the creek, making you feel as if you were on the world’s most famous private course.
The 12th hole is also a replica hole, this of Oakmont Country Club’s third hole. The seven-time US Open course’s hole is known for the “Church Pews” which is a row of bunkers on the left side of the fairway, separated by columns of grass. It plays 426 yards from the replica yardage, the blue tees.
A string of regular holes follow, leading up to the final hole, the par-4 18th. It is Bay Hill’s 18th hole, a 441-yard hole from the blue tees, with water to the right of the green from about 100 yards and in. The elevation changes at the green are also difficult.
Some people may be skeptical about the realness of the replica holes, but I can assure you they have a realistic feel to them, all the way to the green features. I would imagine the green speeds aren’t as fast as they keep them professionally, but they are still pretty quick throughout the course.
The course was in good shape, especially for September and with all the recent rain.
The course is quite a challenge as well, playing from 7,207 yards from the black tees, 6,754 from the blue and 6,407 from the white. It is a fun course and a stop you should make if you are around the Wisconsin Dells area, or even if you are just looking to get away on a golf trip for a couple days.