Many golf courses have names that evoke beautiful images – Pebble Beach, Pine Valley, Cypress Point. SentryWorld, by contrast, is named for the insurance company across the street. But don’t let that dissuade you. Behind the simple name is an unbelievably fun golf course you’ll want to play again and again.
SentryWorld made a great first impression on me with their excellent practice facility. There are two larges sets of grass tees, so you’ll always have fresh turf to hit from. Additionally, there are plenty of targets with well-labeled distances.
The putting green is located just a few steps from the range and the first tee. It’s large enough to accommodate three foursomes and can prepare you for all the putts you see on the course – flat, up and down tiers, and across wild breaks.
Amenities & Customer Service
Again, SentryWorld leaves me with nothing to complain about. Throughout our day, everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful.
Food and drink are plentiful on the course. The routing takes you past drinking water and a restroom every two holes. Coupled with a pair of beverage carts and a turn house, this removes dehydration from your list of excuses for playing badly.
Finally, the GPS systems in the carts are top notch. The distances are actually measured to the flag – a rarity – and the touchscreens allow you to get yardages to any point on the hole.
The conditions at SentryWorld compare well with any course you can think of, from high dollar resort courses to exclusive private clubs. What stood out most were the fairways which were tightly mowed and allowed drives to run out – for better or worse.
The speed of the greens was fast but playable, and they were perfectly smooth. Combined with the tightly mowed chipping areas and run offs, this created a fun but very challenging short game test.
Beauty & Scenery
If you’re a fan of the modern, minimalist aesthetic, SentryWorld is not for you. If you like lush, landscaped Midwestern vistas, you may never leave.
The course weaves through the trees with rolling fairways and modest elevation changes. Water comes into play on about half the holes adding to the variety.
Of particular note is SentryWorld’s sixteenth hole, shown above, which plays like an island green amidst a sea of flowers.
The short holes stand out most in my memory of SentryWorld for their beauty, variety, and challenge.
Above is #3, with its “infinity green.” It’s one of the two short par 3s, but the bunker left steers you toward the real trouble – a runoff on the right side of the green. The other short 3, #12, is all carry over a corner of the lake.
#7 stretches out to 215 yards from the back tees but smart players can take advantage of ample bail out areas and a large green. #16, shown earlier, requires an accurate mid iron to avoid the bunkers and flowers.
My favorite thing about the par 4s at SentryWorld is the variety of lengths. From the tips, you’ll play holes that range from over 500 yards to under 350. The range of distances is great, but what makes it even better is that the short holes don’t take driver out of your hands. Every hole allows you to make the choice: hit the perfect drive or take the easier tee shot to a longer approach.
In addition to the length, there’s great variety in the shape of the holes and the challenges you’ll need to face. There are doglegs, straight holes, shots over water, opportunities to play the ground game, holes with a lot of sand and holes with almost none.
There are two final things I want to mention about the course design. First, the tree lines define the fairway, but they don’t prevent recovery shots. While the pictures make SentryWorld look densely wooded, there’s ample room to play shots to the green after poor drives. Second, you can putt out of almost every bunker on the course. This isn’t a tactic that I see much, but one of the players in my group used it almost exclusively. I love this because it makes the course much more accommodating of the high handicap player without removing the challenge for the skilled golfer.
Just like the par 3s and 4s, the par 5s at SentryWorld provide you with a wide range of challenges. The most unique of the long holes is #5 (above). It starts with a tee shot over water, then continues turning left, around a copse of trees, and finally ends with an approach shot to a green flanked by water and a bunker. #9 is similarly unusual with a stream running through the hole that needs to be crossed twice.
On the back nine, the par 5s are more conventional. #10 is the longest hole on the course – over 600 yards from the tips – and it winds right then left to a green protected by a trio of bunkers. Finally, #14 defends itself with a combination of length and a pond to the right of the fairway.
The best compliment I can give to SentryWorld is to say that the moment I finished my round, I wanted to play again. This course is fun and fair and has so much variety that the round flies by. It may not be the biggest name in the emerging golf mecca that is Wisconsin, but don’t let that keep you from enjoying what it has to offer.