With few trees to knock down errant drives, the wide-open course at Kestrel Ridge rewards control and course-management skills for players negotiating its more than 6,000 yards. Players point their tee shots down the center of the fairway from one of four different sets of tees, taking care to avoid numerous lurking fairway bunkers and the water hazards that run alongside the fairways of holes 1, 8, 9, and 10. When they're not engaging in physical altercations with swirling crosswinds, visitors should take time to appreciate the open expanse of rolling Wisconsin countryside through which the course winds. The track saves its crown jewel for last, with an 18th hole that forces players to nail a small, sloping landing area from the tee and then carry their approach over a rock ravine that runs alongside the right of the hole and contains fossils of Neanderthal golfers.
After a round, tired golfers can head to the clubhouse bar for traditional pub fare or re-create dramatic putts on the two large putting greens. A driving range hosts hitters on both grass and rubber mats and challenges them to assail greens located strategically between 125 and 230 yards away.
Painted the distinctive international orange of the Golden Gate Bridge, to which it bears more than a passing resemblance, the signature bridge at Browns Lake Golf Course crosses the Fox River in style. Players walk over this sleek structure after they’ve made their play off the tee on the par 3 12th hole. Thankfully, they need not fly the San Francisco Bay or lay up on Alcatraz to reach the green in regulation: a 150-yard strike with enough loft ought to do the trick.
Players have been attempting this feat with varying degrees of success since 1921, when the course opened. Wedged between the river to the west and Browns Lake to the east, it's designed to challenge golfers of all handicaps. A round here represents a 6,449-yard loop from the back tees, filled with enough elevated greens to make players reconsider both their club selections and their reluctance to ask their caddies for a piggy-back ride. Though they may want to steer their golf balls clear of it, visitors can admire a bunker in the shape of comic-strip character Andy Gump on the par 3 fourth hole, which was designed to pay homage to local native Sidney Smith, his creator.