124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2



Best in State

The best golf courses in Wisconsin

Few states—if any—can compete with Wisconsin on the public golf front. Public and resort courses are not only prevalent, they are excellent. Of the top 20 ranked courses in the state, 14 are open to public play, the highest pecentage of any state. Many are pricey resort courses like Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run and Erin Hills with $300-$500 green fees, but others like The Bog, The Bull at Pinehurst Farms and Lac La Belle are a fraction of the price. Private golf is just as interesting and diverse, from classical era standouts like Milwaukee Country Club, designed by Charles Alison, and Blue Mound (Seth Raynor), to hidden gems like Pine Hills (Harry Snead, anyone?) and North Shore (Leonard Macomber).

Below you'll find our 2023-'24 ranking of the Best Golf Courses in Wisconsin.

We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher. 

1. (1) Whistling Straits: Straits Course
Public
1. (1) Whistling Straits: Straits Course
Sheboygan, WI, United States
Pete Dye transformed a dead flat abandoned army air base along a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan into an imitation Ballybunion at Whistling Straits, peppering his rugged fairways and windswept greens with 1,012 (at last count) bunkers. There are no rakes at Whistling Straits, in keeping with the notion that this is a transplanted Irish links. It has too much rub-of-the-green for the comfort levels of many tour pros, which is what makes it a stern test for top events, such as three PGA Championships, the 2007 U.S. Senior Open and 2021 Ryder Cup.
View Course
2. (2) Erin Hills Golf Course
Public
2. (2) Erin Hills Golf Course
Hartford, WI, United States
Despite the rumor, Erin Hills wasn’t designed specifically to host a U.S. Open. Its original concept was to be a simple, affordable, lay-of-the-land layout, to prove Mother Nature is indeed the best golf architect. The concept changed—some greens moved, one blind par 3 eliminated—as the quest for a U.S. Open grew. That dream came true: after trial runs hosting the 2008 U.S. Women’s Public Links and the 2011 U.S. Amateur, Erin Hills hosted the U.S. Open in 2017, the first time the event had ever been in Wisconsin. Brooks Koepka won with a 72-hole score of 16-under, leading some to conclude Erin Hills was too wide and defenseless. In truth, what it lacked that week was the usual gusty winds that would have effectively narrowed the slanted, canted fairways. Had the par been adjusted to 70 instead of 72 as is usual for most Opens, the score would likely have been closer to 8-under.
View Course
3. (3) Milwaukee Country Club
Private
3. (3) Milwaukee Country Club
River Hills, WI
4.5
182 Panelists
With much of the course hard against the Milwaukee River and several holes subject to flooding (the green of the 12th and the entire 13th are located across the river), one might think Milwaukee Country Club is a flat layout. But many of its holes are surprisingly hilly. Its classic design is still tree-lined, but one of the crucial improvements recently made by consulting architect Tom Doak and his associate Don Placek was to remove many trees to open up views of the river from upland holes.
View Course
4. (5) Sand Valley Golf Resort: Sand Valley
Public
4. (5) Sand Valley Golf Resort: Sand Valley
Nekoosa, WI, United States
Sand Valley is the fifth course that the firm of Coore and Crenshaw has designed for resort maven Mike Keiser, and the first not located close to an ocean. No matter. It’s still on a thousand acres of rolling sand hills in Central Wisconsin, and Coore and Crenshaw were given carte blanche to route their course. (Rumor has it Coore routed a hole outside the property line and Keiser reluctantly bought that additional parcel.) Given the name, many conclude Sand Valley is a combination of Nebraska’s Sand Hills Golf Club and New Jersey’s Pine Valley. But Sand Valley has its own personality, with some dual fairways, gigantic sand spits, enormous greens and even a hidden putting surface. Sand Valley was Golf Digest’s Best New Course of 2017.
View Course
5. (4) Blackwolf Run: River
Public
5. (4) Blackwolf Run: River
Kohler, WI
Only Pete Dye could have convinced owner Herb Kohler to rip apart an award-winning course (Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course of 1988) and still come out a winner. Dye coupled the front nine of that original 18 (now holes 1-4 and 14-18) with nine newer holes built within a vast bend of the Sheboygan River to produce the River Course. It possesses some of Dye’s most exciting holes, from the triple-option reachable par-4 ninth to the boomerang-shaped par-5 11th to the monster par-4 18th, where Kohler surprised Dye by converting a long waste bunker into a temporary lagoon for tournament events. For major events, like the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open, Dye’s original 18 was used. But for survey purposes, Golf Digest evaluates the River 18, which is available for everyday general play.
View Course
6. (6) Sand Valley Golf Resort: Mammoth Dunes
Public
6. (6) Sand Valley Golf Resort: Mammoth Dunes
Nekoosa, WI, United States
David Kidd began building a second 18 at Wisconsin’s Sand Valley Resort just before Coore and Crenshaw had completed their 18, which would be named Golf Digest’s Best New Course of 2017. Kidd was intent on topping their work, so he gave his meandering layout enormous fairways, big accessible greens and visually-unique hillsides of exposed sand, “mammoth dunes” that became the course moniker. “This could be the best course I and my team have yet created,” Kidd wrote in late 2017. “We can’t wait for the critics to decide if they agree.” They were disappointed with results of Golf Digest’s 2018 Best New Course survey, which placed Mammoth Dunes second behind Streamsong (Black). But balloting for Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest continued for an additional month after the close of Best New, and additional evaluations pushed Mammoth Dunes ahead of Streamsong (Black), which is now ranked No. 178.
View Course
7. (9) Blue Mound Golf & Country Club
4.2
121 Panelists
Blue Mound Golf & Country Club is a hidden gem among the more talked-about Seth Raynor original designs, but one of his rare Midwest layouts with great history, having hosted the 1933 PGA Championship won by Gene Sarazen. The routing starts with a unique par-4 Redan then is followed by a number of other great templates: a Double Plateau, a Biarritz, an Alps then a Road hole. Other notables include a Punchbowl at the par-4 eighth hole, the difficult par-4 10th, one of Raynor's best Prized Dogleg templates with a fabulous putting surface, a terrific 14th dubbed Garden City and two great par 3s on the back—another Redan (the par-3 13th) and a terrific Eden hole for the 17th. Blue Mound continues to earn recognition and deserves to be in the conversation with the Midwest's best classic courses.
View Course
8. (8) SentryWorld Golf Club
Public
8. (8) SentryWorld Golf Club
Stevens Point, WI
The lush, tree-lined SentryWorld won Golf Digest's first-ever Best New Public award in early 1984, but never made our 100 Greatest Public ranking until 2017, as the highest-ranking newcomer. A few years ago, Trent Jones Jr. partner Bruce Charlton and their former associate Jay Blasi remodeled SentryWorld, rerouting four holes and adding a new par-3 12 and par-4 13th, but they preserved the famous "Flower Hole," the par-3 16th which uses petunias, snapdragons, marigolds, geraniums and other annuals grown on site as decorative hazards. The flower beds are treated as lateral hazards. A more recent renovation by RTJII's team focused on preparing the course for the 2023 U.S. Senior Men's Open. In an age when almost every renovation consists of enlarging fairway space to provide players better angles for more recoverability for mishits, SentryWorld went the opposite direction, narrowing its landing zones, enhancing roughs and converting a number of chipping areas into maintained bluegrass. Sub-Air systems were also installed under the greens. The alterations proved formidable as Bernhard Langer fended off Wisconsinities Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly to win the Open. SentryWorld has previously hosted several other USGA championships, including the 2019 U.S. Girls' Junior, where future U.S. Women's Open champion Yuka Saso was the stroke-play medalist.
View Course
9. (7) Whistling Straits: Irish Course
The Irish Course has the same manufactured dunescape found on its more famous sister Straits Course, but with three major differences. The fairways are bent grass, not fescue. Carts are allowed, although confined to cart paths. (It's walking only on the Straits, thought both 18s are relatively easy to walk.) And the Irish has the only blind par 3 found at Whistling Straits, the 13th playing 183 yards over sand hills to a huge green ringed by more than a dozen bunkers. It doesn't get more Irish than that.
View Course
10. (10) The Golf Courses of Lawsonia: Links
Public
10. (10) The Golf Courses of Lawsonia: Links
Green Lake, WI, United States
A darling of the architecture cognoscenti, Lawsonia Links, designed and built in the 1930s by William Langford and Theodore Moreau, circles through grassy meadows and past an occasional stand of oaks. It’s a purposefully modest and functional design that invites players to rip driver, then buckle down for precise shots into large platform greens perched above deep trench bunkers dug out with pre-modern steam shovels. The par-3 seventh has another explanation entirely. Its green, perched like a birthday cake, was formed by piling dirt over an old railroad boxcar.
View Course
11. (11) Blackwolf Run: Meadow Valleys
Even before Pete Dye completed the River Course at Blackwolf Run, he had taken the front nine of the original Blackwolf Course (Best New Resort winner of 1988) and merged it with a newly-constructed nine to form the Meadows Valley Course. Although the Sheboygan River isn't in play as much on Meadows Valley as it is on the River (the 18th hole plays over it), there are plenty of deep bunkers and tricky pin positions.
View Course
12. (13) Pine Hills Country Club
Private
12. (13) Pine Hills Country Club
Sheboygan, WI, United States
4.1
39 Panelists
Not much is known about Harry Smead, the architect who built Pine Hills in the 1920s. Compared to his contemporaries, his portfolio of courses is small and quiet, with one exception: Pine Hills. Pine Hills is an eruption of contour as holes are draped like linen over brawny knees and elbows of earth. Fairways pitch this way and that going where the land takes them, and Smead's greens are miniature versions of the natural movements, full of swales, knobs and dips. The first hole sets the tone, a par 4 that banks of slopes like a roller coaster swooshing into an elevated green. The fourth, coming back the other direction, tackles the same topography, pitching off the opposite tilt, plunging down toward a tabletop putting surface. The par-3 fifth looks like the slalom course climbing steeply toward a jetstream green. And on it goes. Drew Rogers has been tending to the course over most of the last decade, polishing this and burnishing that but leaving the remarkable green contour alone. A notable improvement was removing the forest of trees along the inside of the curving par-4 18th, exposing the ravine on the left and giving players something sinister to think about as they tee off. If Smead had designed more courses like this, we'd know his name as well as we do Perry Maxwell or Seth Raynor.
View Course
13. (12) The Bull At Pinehurst Farms
Public
13. (12) The Bull At Pinehurst Farms
Sheboygan Falls, WI, United States
It’s not wise for a rebel force to stand toe-to-toe against an empire—success depends upon more radical measures. In the case of The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, the empire is the late Herb Kohler’s neighboring 36-hole Blackwolf Run (plus the 10-hole Baths course), not to mention Kohler’s Whistling Straits complex just north of Sheboygan. To make The Bull equally attractive, Team Nicklaus went full commando with the design, using all the available assets of the 400-acre site to build broad meadow holes in the meadows, tightrope holes through the woods, and shorties along and across the winding Onion River. Traps are sprung everywhere—in the form of pot bunkers, inside doglegs, draped in front of greens—and numerous ravines are positioned to ensnare miscalculations. There’s a lot going on, but as they say, when you take on The Bull, you get the horns.
View Course
14. (15) University Ridge Golf Course
Public
14. (15) University Ridge Golf Course
Verona, WI, United States
4.1
44 Panelists
University Ridge is the home course of the University of Wisconsin men’s and women’s golf teams, as well as the annual host of the PGA Tour Champions’ American Family Insurance Championship. The front nine at this Robert Trent Jones Jr. design plays through a prairie and marshland before transitioning to wooded holes on the back. The last couple of holes open again to the prairie, including at the par-4 18th, which plays sharply uphill to the highest point on the property.
View Course
15. (14) Troy Burne Golf Club
Public
15. (14) Troy Burne Golf Club
Hudson, WI
3.9
51 Panelists
Troy Burne sits on 420 acres of rolling hills in the St. Croix Valley, just east of the Twin Cities. 1996 Open champion Tom Lehman collaborated with Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry to design this well-bunkered layout with wide fairways and sloped greens. Ponds and creeks come into play on many holes, especially around the greens, placing an emphasis on approach play. With few trees on the course, wind often plays a strong factor.
View Course
16. (NR) Green Bay Country Club
Private
16. (NR) Green Bay Country Club
Green Bay, WI
3.5
45 Panelists
View Course
17. (NR) Westmoor Country Club
Private
17. (NR) Westmoor Country Club
Brookfield, WI
3.6
36 Panelists
View Course
19. (NR) The Club At Lac La Belle
Public
19. (NR) The Club At Lac La Belle
Oconomowoc, WI, United States
4.1
61 Panelists
Golf was first played on the site of this course in 1896 and attracted the biggest names of the day. Its fortunes declined over the next 100 years, however, partially due to poor drainage. Several years ago, the Morse family purchased the course, and the revival has been inspired. Wisconsin-based architect Craig Haltom was given land for four new holes and reengineered the others using strong bunkering to create engaging strategies and some of the most whimsical, multilevel greens anywhere, several over 10,000 square feet in size.
View Course
20. (NR) The Bog
Public
20. (NR) The Bog
Saukville, WI
3.4
34 Panelists
Less than 30 miles north of Milwaukee, The Bog is a scenic Arnold Palmer design that plays over 297 acres of rolling hills, woods and wetlands. Named for the Cedarburg Bog on which it was built, the course has 118 bunkers, some of which have tall lips and are especially penalizing. In addition to the challenging course, The Bog has quality practice facilities, including a driving range with target greens and a short game area with pitching areas and bunkers.
View Course

• • •

Explore Golf Digest's recently relaunched Places to Play community, where you can add star ratings and reviews for all the courses you play. We've collected tens of thousands of reviews from our course-ranking panelists to deliver a premium experience, which includes experts' opinions, bonus course photography and videos, plus much more. Check it out here!