There is a place in central Wisconsin where dense forests meet broad Scottish style fairways. Where many a golfer’s game has been interrupted by the site of a majestic eagle soaring high above, or deer and wild turkeys making there way across the fairway. It’s called The Golf Courses of Lawsonia and its located just 90 miles northeast of Milwaukee, in Green Lake, where generations of vacationers from Wisconsin and Illinois have flocked since it was opened in 1930. By 1939 the Links Course was ranked the 72nd finest golf course in the world.
The land selected for the original course, by the famous golf architect Wm. Langford, was open semi treeless and rolling, much like the traditional Scottish courses with the wind and fescue grasses coming into play.
Most of the holes on the Links course were actually fashioned after Scottish golf holes. In fact Langford sent two men to Scotland to photograph and diagram famous golf holes throughout the country.
Langford went way over budget and spent $250,000 to build the course, an unheard of sum in those days for a golf course.
Legend has it that railroad boxcars are buried beneath the green on #7 and under the practice range tees to give those areas their distinctive elevations.
Green Lake’s secluded water frontage has a long history of being frequented by the Midwest’s most affluent. In the late 1800’s publishing tycoon Victor Lawson and his wife Jesse purchased a small piece of paradise and spent millions developing it into an 1100 acre farm plantation. Under the exacting supervision of Mrs. Lawson the plantation soon evolved into a showplace of advanced technology and design. The cow barn, the largest in the state, is now used as Lawsonia’s maintenance facility.
Subsequent owners, continuing the tradition of sparing no expense, further developed the estate into an exclusive resort, with its own casino, complete with crap tables and roulette wheels. The resort attracted empire builders, Hollywood elite, and golf greats such as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson. Nelson shot 69 in 1939 then a course record.
The American Baptist’s purchased the property in 1943 and the course was then closed on Sundays until the early 1960s. The course was also closed for a short time in the 1940’s when the government leased the cow barn to house 450 German prisoners of war.
For a couple years prize dairy cattle grazed the beautiful Links fairways.
Prior to the golf course building boom in the 90s Lawsonia Links was rated by Golf Digest as one of the top 50 courses in the country. In 1939 Lawsonia Links was ranked #72 in the World by The National Golf Review.
Currently The Golf Courses of Lawsonia receive a 4 1/2 star rating by Golf Digest and the Links is ranked 52nd “Classic Course” in the nation and second best Public Course in Wisconsin by Golfweek magazine. Golf Digest also ranks Lawsonia in the top 100 affordable courses in America.
In 1983 the Woodlands Course was added and by 2000 it is ranked in the top 10 public courses in Wisconsin.
While trees are sparse on the Links, the Woodlands Course has trees everywhere, maples, pines, aspens, elms, and walnut trees line the fairways and come into play frequently. Elevation changes are dramatic on the Woodlands. A 65 foot drop to a sand trap surrounded green greets you on the par 3 number three. Half of the par 3’s are surrounded by water.
The course owned by the Green Lake Conference Center truly has its own “Amen” corner, holes 14 through 18 are a true test of Golf for golfers of any ability.
Located on grounds of the Green Lake Conference Center on state hwy 23 just 2 miles west of the City of Green Lake, The Golf Courses of Lawsonia is a pleasant drive from Madison, Green Bay or Milwaukee and only a 3 hour drive from Chicago.