Nothing Tame About The Bull at Pinehurst Farms
By Jerry Slaske
THE BULL at Pinehurst Farms, just outside of Sheboygan, may look tame, at least from the clubhouse, but don't let it fool you. This course will beat you up and leave you staggering back to your car if you let your guard down.
Even if you don't let your guard down, you'll feel like you've just been involved in a donnybrook. Amazingly, however, you'll also find yourself thinking, "That was fun. I've got to come back."
Location, location, location is what it's all about, on just about every shot and every hole. That's why you have to play it more than once. Oh sure, there are a couple holes that will give you a breather like #1, par 4, 424 yards, and #10, par 4, 469 yards, but I suspect that's part of the diabolical strategy to make you think, "Hey, what's the big deal," before the Bear's paw starts pummeling you. Jack Nicklaus and company designed the course, which Golfweek magazine called the best new daily fee course in 2005.
The outstanding feature of The Bull is how well protected all the greens are by traps, sloping terrain, trees, or, water, as on holes #3, par 3, 213 yards, and #18, par 4, 485 yards. You must hit them or you'll find yourself struggling to get up and down. The greens themselves are receptive, run true, fast - but not unfairly, and undulating - sometimes subtly, sometimes not. Also, other than three or four holes, trees - lots of dense pockets of trees - come into play. Landing areas for the most part are fair and the rough is manageable for most golfers.
Perhaps the most intimidating and challenging hole on the course is #5, a par 4 dogleg left, 432 yards - although #18, a par 4, 485 yards, also could vie for honors. Your tee shot must be long and straight down a fairway lined on both sides by dense trees. Favor the left side as much as you dare so you have a good look at the green. Your second shot - probably from a slightly downhill or side hill lie - will hopefully be about 160 yards over a ravine, which ends where the green begins. So it's all carry. You could bailout right, but there's a large bunker guarding that route. If you carry it, however, the fairway slopes toward the green. Go over the green and you're chipping back toward the ravine.
Number 18 is also an interesting challenge. It looks pretty straightforward, but, as I said before, looks are deceiving on this course. Your tee shot must carry a lake, which shouldn't be a problem if you're playing from the tees to match your skill level, but it's determining how much of the lake to cut off that is problematical. You want to get as close to this green as possible. But cut off too little lake and you could run through the fairway into bunkers. If your second shot doesn't carry onto the green, you're looking at bogey and probably worse because it's all marsh and a creek in front. If you have any doubts, aim well to the left and then chip up.
The par 3s were particularly fun to play. Numbers 3 and 6 were the best of the lot. Water runs along the entire right side of #3, while a ravine divides tee from green on #6, par 3, 193 yards. Each of the par 3s has a bailout option, except #6. Hit that green or face possible disaster.
As I said earlier, you can't let your guard down anywhere on this course, but perhaps the toughest hole is #9, a par 4, 453 yards. It's straight, but it's straight uphill and usually into the wind. Plus, you hit to a green - the surface of which you can't see from the fairway because it sits high - guarded on the left and front by a large, deep bunker.
The most demanding tee shot on the course - notwithstanding the par 3s - is probably #16, a par 4, 422 yards, dogleg left. It's uphill to a narrow landing area. Perhaps driver isn't the wise choice, but if you do use it, cut the corner. Otherwise you'll go through the fairway and won't have a shot to the green. Heck, you might not have a shot period. The fairway is lined on both sides by trees and drops off left to wetlands. There is little room for error here, including on your approach shot, so you want your tee shot to be as well-positioned as possible.
The only weak hole in the whole bunch is ... well, I can't think of one. The one thing I wish could be changed was the pace of play. It was well over five hours when I played. Everyone thinks they're Tiger Woods when they get to a course like this and consequently they play from tees where they have no business. That only leads to more time spent looking for lost balls.
No matter which tees you play from, The Bull at Pinehurst Farms certainly has enough bull - as in a wild, kicking, snorting kind of bull. The trick is staying on and riding it through to the end.
Note: All hole distances are from the black (or back) tees.
Revised: 11/08/2010 - Article Viewed 25,971 Times
About: Jerry Slaske
KEY Milwaukee is a tradition in Wisconsin's largest city. As the leading visitor guide in Southeastern Wisconsin, we're distributed in hotels, motels, restaurants and visitor centers throughout the metropolitan area, beginning at the Illinois-Wisconsin border.
Contact Jerry Slaske:
Key Milwaukee - Golf Writer