PGA Championship Week: Exploring Elite Midwestern Golf in Milwaukee

As we continue Crave’s coverage of Mercedes-Benz and this weekend’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol, look for coverage of gear and golfer-friendly travel spots.

Wisconsin is a surprising force on the international golf scene. Last year’s PGA Championship took place at Whistling Straits in Kohler,  and that course will host the 2020 Ryder’s Cup. Meanwhile, the 2017 U.S. Open will unfold at Erin Hills just outside of Milwaukee.

With that in mind, we had a rare chance to play two of the area’s other top tier courses, Brown Deer and The Bog. The former is the area’s best municipal course, while the latter is a privately owned public course about 20 minutes south of Kohler’s Whistling Straits and Black Wolf Run.

Also: 2016 PGA Championship Golf Gift Guide

The Brown Deer Park Golf Course settles into Milwaukee’s far north side. It’s no stranger to professional play as it was the longtime home of the Greater Milwaukee Open – a now dormant PGA event that used to take place just before The Open Championship. As a result, it’s no easy track and makes demands on the player.

Its tournament past means Brown Deer stays in top condition — far and away from many munis a player can encounter city to city. However, Brown Deer is long, narrow and studded with more trees than a genealogy shop. A mid-handicapper who can spray a driver into the woods needs to stay focused and calm — preparing for recovery shots from the rough and trees. If anyone can maintain that mindset, the reward is one of the finest municipal rounds in the country.

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Tucked away in Saukville about 20 minutes north of the Milwaukee area, The Bog is built into the appropriately named Cedarburg Bog and deigned by golf legend and master drink designer Arnold Palmer. With the help of local experts, Palmer managed to preserve much of the area’s natural landscape into the course’s layout.

The Bog feels like a blend of a links-style and park-style course, combining rolling hillocks, bunkers and water with tree lined out-of-bounds spaces. The combined styles mix with Palmer’s design language to create a very challenging course that denies the player an abundance of even, easy lies — calling on the player’s ability to shape shots.

There are no PGA tournament events scheduled for either property in the foreseeable future, and that’s a good thing for the regional amateur player. He or she can get a taste of quality golf with very reasonable greens fees at either venue.

You can get a feel for both in the gallery below.