Door County Golf

Door County Golf at The Orchards
by John Schneider

In Wisconsin, when you’re in Door County you’re on vacation.  If you imagine the state in the shape of a mitten, Door County is the “thumb” – the large peninsula on the east side of the state that runs north into Green Bay and Lake Michigan.  It seems that every year I get away from the city for at least one long weekend trek to the area.  While “up north” this year I made a point to bring the sticks and play a round of golf at The Orchards at Egg Harbor.

The Orchards at Egg Harbor (888-463-GOLF; http://www.OrchardsAtEggHarbor.com ) is a full length golf course that measures up well to most courses you’ll play at home.  The black tees run an impressive 7,206 yards with a rating of 75.0 and slope of 131.  If you’re playing The Orchards there’s a good chance you are on vacation, so why not leave the tips behind you and relax a little so you can enjoy some great resort golf.  The Blue tees cover a little more than 6,700 yards with a rating of 72.4 and a slope of 126.  On my near perfect weather day of golfing at this course I had the privilege to play with my 70+ year old father and brother from Texas who has not golfed in many years.  Given the company and my desire to continue “living the dream” we played the white tees (6,203 yards / 70.2 rating / 121 slope) that offered everyone the opportunity for great holes.

If you are unfamiliar with Wisconsin’s Door County let me provide a very brief overview.  The Door County Peninsula is located about three hours north of Milwaukee and less than an hour away from the city of Green Bay (home of the World Champion Packers).  It has 300+ miles of shoreline with many quaint harbor towns, beautiful parks and sandy beaches.  This is an area where nature and recreation are everywhere you look.  Beaches, camping, sailing, boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and golfing (oh.. how I love the golfing!) are all activities that you can enjoy here.  Often simply referred to as “The Door”, it contains eleven golf courses, five state parks, ten lighthouses, and countless restaurants & shops.  With over two million visitors each year, it is no surprise that Money Magazine counts Door County in its list of top ten vacation destinations in North America.  This peaceful and charming vacation dreamland continues to largely keep corporate America at bay.  Still to this day you will not find a Holiday Inn or McDonalds around these resort towns.  Instead you will find all manner of unique hotels, cabins, resorts, and restaurants.

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The Orchards at Egg Harbor golf course is the only public facility in the Door County area that has bentgrass greens, fairways, and tee boxes.  I found the greens to be very nice and quite fast; many were uniquely slender and long.  Recently the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rated The Orchards as “the best public course on the peninsula, one notch below the private Horseshoe Bay Golf Club.”  This is a complete golf course with a very nice driving range and a couple of practice putting greens.

The “Champions Club” course restaurant in the clubhouse is excellent.  This is a great place for a pre or post round sandwich and beer.  They even offer a Friday Night Fish Fry special for the general public.  One would think that the food and drink prices would reflect the golf course location and vacation resort area, but that is definitely not the case.  A great lunch (burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc.) and a drink are extremely reasonable and will pinch your pocket for under $10.  Even mid-round beers and sodas are priced well within the tolerable range, and will leave you with enough scratch for an extra cocktail after your favorite fish boil and cherry pie.

Bearing the name “The Orchards”, it is no surprise that the many holes worked their way in and through apple orchards.  Besides the apple trees (smaller trees only causing a problem when you are right behind them), several of the holes run against and into large naturally wooded areas.  A majority of the course is pretty open and offers players who tend to spray the ball plenty of opportunities to recover.

I really enjoyed the four-hole stretch from number 10 through 13.  Hole 10 is a par 4 with a good sized driving zone that doglegs slightly to the right.  The green is protected by a large sand trap and wide grassy swale.  Fortunately both my drive and second shot were played well, however my birdie putt ran past the cup – I’m on vacation, a par is nothing to cry about.  Hole 11, running about 200 yards, is the longest par 3 on the golf course.  The approach to this hole is sided by trees on the right and a meadow on the left.  My tee shot on this hole was the shot of the day.  From the moment it left the tee box it tracked directly for the flagstick; coming to rest only a putter-length past of hole for nice birdie.  A “2” on the scorecard always looks great.  Hole 12 is a long par 4 with the green sitting up at the top of a hill.  Take my advice and don’t hit your drive off to the right.  Not only will you be out of bounds, but you might be making friends with campers sitting around roasting marshmallows adjacent to the course.  My second shot to the green was slowed down by the large hill and the slick greens would not allow my par putt to fall.  Hole 13 is the one that many people call this course’s “signature hole” because the green is located next to Highway 42 (the main road through Door County).  The pond just to the right and beyond the green has a large fountain and a retaining wall displaying “The Orchards” name and logo.  A well struck big drive over the crest of the fairway can leave you a very makeable sandwedge shot to glory.  My father had a great drive and second shot, but was an inch short for his birdie.  I was ready to run with the classic “Hey Dad, it is time to take off Mom’s dress” line, but I could not make my putt either.

An 18 hole round of golf at The Orchards at Egg Harbor is very affordable.  During the prime Summer season the round will cost you about $50 on the weekend and a little over $40 during the weekday.  Cart usage adds a little more to your tab.  Spring and Fall seasons see the course offering further discounts.  Recently I checked The Orchard’s website and noticed that they are running a Sunday through Thursday special for 18 holes and cart for only $45 per person.  Special or not, golfing The Orchards is a great value.

After taking time away from my weekend vacation to play the course and visiting with the staff, the team at First Light Sports strongly recommends that you make an effort to visit The Orchards at Egg Harbor.

Everybody in the family had a great time playing The Orchards at Egg Harbor.

Published August 2011

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