Thursday, September 6, 2012

Course Review: The National at Fox Hills

The weekend we played the National was my Uncle Paul's 60th birthday party in Two Rivers - the town my mother's family grew up in. Relatives from around the country flew in for the event, and we stayed at the Fox Hills Resort just outside of town, in Mishicot.

Saturday morning was a designated day for golf. With 45 holes at Fox Hills Resort, there is a lot of golf to be played on site. As the writer of a site designated to the best of the best in Wisconsin golf, my mission was to play the best of the courses at Fox Hills: The National.

The National is a wonderful links-style course. The conditions are fantastic, and the hole layouts are very well designed. The par threes, especially, are spectacular.

I always love a course that starts out with a par five. For some reason, my drive just seems to work on the first hole every round. That was the case at the National, where I conquered the first hole with a tap-in birdy. The first hole here represents what you can expect with much of the course: Fair fairways with birms surrounding the rough areas. The rough is not unplayable, thankfully, and is well maintained. The course, in general, is very well maintained, in fact.

Hole 1: Par 5 (534/505/490/484/424)

In the true style of a links course, what makes the National a challenging course is the green areas. In contrast to the Links Course at Lawsonia, the greens at the National are tiny, but like the Links they have significant slope and roll quickly. If Lawsonia stimps at a 10.5, the National is probably a nine or 9.5.

The National is long, too. Not many holes should be played with driver/wedge, requiring the use of most clubs in the bag. At 7,010 yards from the black tees, seven of the ten par fours are over 400 yards (three from the blues, with five others over 365).

There is also an abundance of sand at the National, especially around the greens and fairways. The birms inside the fairway bunkers and waste areas make for some difficult shots and ball-finding, as did the 20-plus mile per hour winds we faced. Perhaps the most significantly bunkered hole was thirteenth. The right side is almost entirely beach, with mounds of wild grasses sprinkled in between. I found one of these, which proved to be quite challenging to get out of, especially across the sand.

Hole 13: Par 4 (415/386/363/340/330)

Hole 13: Par 4 (415/386/363/340/330)

I loved the par threes at the National. Three of them have significant carries over water, and required some very delicate shots to hold. The seventeenth, especially, is delicate. From 138 yards over a large pond, the green is a sliver of hope that runs laterally in the approach area.

Hole 17: Par 3 (169/137/122/116/61)

Perhaps the trickiest of the par threes is the fourth. With another significant carry of water, the approach area is almost entirely made up of sand, with a sharp rise to a heavily sloped green.

Hole 4: Par 3 (157/138/126/120/101)

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Hole 4: Par 3 (157/138/126/120/101)

I loved the use of railroad ties on both seventeen and eleven to fortify the greenside bunkers.

Hole 11: Par 3 (173/158/148/141/114)

Hole 11: Par 3 (173/158/148/141/114)

Nine and eighteen share an unbelievably large and sloped green, as well as mutual ponds that make for strategic approaches. It is almost inviting to play the eighteenth fairway on nine, but as my cousin Todd found out, it doesn't pay off well! Avoid the waste bunkers that front this green on both holes, as anything short makes for an incredibly tough sand shot.

Hole 9: Par 5 (541/527/512/506/479)

Hole 9: Par 5 (541/527/512/506/479)

The two finishing holes of the National actually play very similary to the finishing holes of several out-of-state courses I have reviewed: Sweetgrass and Shepherd's Crook. Each runs parallel to one another, share mutual boundaries and finish similarly. They are all great par five ninth and eighteenth holes.

Hole 18: Par 5 (570/539/525/521/472)

Hole 18: Par 5 (570/539/525/521/472)

Hole 18: Par 5 (570/539/525/521/472)

One of my favorite par fours at the National is the 415-yard sixth hole. A huge inland pond runs the left side of the fairway, and ends about 200 yards out. The fairway then crosses straight left around water, with an interesting island-like area in between that can be played to. This would be an unbelievable risk/reward scenario to go for this layup area, but would play much like a long par three. Driver was too long to hit down the fairway, but can be used depending on how much of the distance you're looking to chop off. The approach on six then finishes right of the water and long.

Hole 6: Par 4 (438/415/400/332/327)

The course reminds me a lot of the Links Course at Lawsonia, but with much more water. In fact, more than half of the holes at the National have water in play, and most predominantly in areas that will need to be flown.

Hole 15: Par 5 (545/515/498/459/449)

Hole 15: Par 5 (545/515/498/459/449)

There is nothing cool about vandalism, but finding this was awfully funny,
especially getting my cousin, Todd, to pose next to it:
"Sponsored by: Your local sex offenders"

One of the incredible things to me about the National is the rates. Much like playing golf in the U.P. of Michigan, Mishicot is a somewhat remote area without a huge audience to attract players from, especially for a course with 45 holes. Just $35 during peak season gets you eighteen holes at the National, including cart. Even better deals can be found on GolfNow, where I have regularly seen rates as low as $20. This is one hell of a course for such low rates! I honestly believe this course could charge $60 or more if it was within 30 minutes of the Milwaukee area.

In addition to great round rates, I have seen stay-and-play packages well under $100 per player at the Fox Hills Resort. The resort features adequate rooms, a nice indoor pool and hot tub, workout room, and [at least while we were there] a very lively bar, Benchwarmers.

In addition to great golf, the service at the National was wonderful. I hate to call them small-town folks, but they are. These are the people who grew up where my parents grew up. They have old-fashioned values and believe in customer service. This was evident in all interactions with the staff before, during and after our round.

If you are looking for a great course in the Sheboygan area, and like the idea of getting your money's worth, the National at Fox Hills is the perfect course to check out.

Hole 3: Par 4 (414/394/377/349/339)

Hole 8: Par 3 (188/171/156/144/134)

Hole 10: Par 4 (460/433/411/365/355)

Hole 13: Par 4 (415/386/363/340/330)

Hole 14: Par 4 (424/389/374/298/268)

Hole 16: Par 4 (392/367/345/310/300)

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Hole 16: Par 4 (392/367/345/310/300)


Course Wrap-Up:
Location: Mishicot, WI
Yardage: Black-7010, Blue-6574, White-6282, Gold-5735, Red-5366
Slope/Rating: Black-136/73.8, Blue-132/72.7, White-129/70.7, Red-124/71.0
Par: 72
Weekend Rates (with cart): $35

3 comments:

  1. Very nice article-I play there very often-just wanted to point out that you have described #13 rather than 12 in the blog-not nitpicking just thought you might want to correct it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the feedback! Did you notice if there were any other holes that were off by one, then? Thanks again! - Paul

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  3. Slightly related to golf....I am interested in giving away a two bedroom timeshare at Fox Hills. This is completely legitimate and all dues are paid up through this year. We just do not get to use it. Please contact me if interested.
    Nick-262-308-7676.

    ReplyDelete