50 Words or Less
The Meadow Valleys golf course at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin is a wonderful complement to The River course. Challenging but less penal than its counterpart.
If there are two or more courses on a property, one is guaranteed to be overlooked. Such is the fate of the Meadow Valleys course at Blackwolf Run. Though it’s not a major championship venue, it is a deserving Top 100 course in its own right, and you’d be a fool to make a trip to Kohler without playing it.
Blackwolf Run – home to both The River and The Meadow Valleys courses – has an outstanding practice area. The range has 30 grass tees where guests can hit fresh Titleists to their hearts’ content. Long hitters do need to take note of where the tees are, since there is an academy on the opposite side of the range. One particularly nice touch is the laser rangefinder that allows golfers to measure the distance to each target precisely.
Near the range, there is a short game area with tightly trimmed surrounds and thick rough. There’s also a bunker, which I strongly recommend making use of.
Finally, near the club house, there’s a large practice green. I found it to be a perfect approximation of the greens on the course both in terms of speed and contours. If you can dial in your reads before the round, you’ll have a big edge on the course.
Customer Service & Amenities
I discussed the world-class service and food in my review of The River course (HERE). In this section, I’ll cue you in on two other ways to enhance your trip to Kohler.
After 18 or 36, your body needs some TLC, and you can find that at the Kohler Waters Spa. This five star facility offers everything from facials to hydrotherapy to massage. I enjoyed the Woodsman Massage which was, by far, the most intense treatment I’ve ever received. After a three hour drive and a round of golf, it got me feeling limber and refreshed for my next eighteen.
If you want to include some non-golf activities on your trip, Kohler offers River Wildlife. This private club – which guests of The American Club or the Inn on Woodlake can access – is a 500 acre wildlife preserve that allows for every kind of outdoor activity you can think of. Hiking, fishing, trapshooting, canoeing, and horseback riding are just a few of the options. Additionally, River Wildlife offers guests yet another dining option.
Beauty & Scenery
Despite being on the same property as The River, The Meadow Valleys has a look that’s distinct from its Blackwolf Run partner. The Meadow Valleys is more open, offering many long views that allow you to see multiple holes. There are still plenty of elevation changes, but they tend to be more compact – an elevated green rather than an entire hole that plays uphill. The most obvious difference between the two courses is the lack of water at The Meadow Valleys – it’s only a substantial hazard on six holes.
Overall, The Meadow Valleys is a slightly gentler version of The River. The required shots are not much easier, but there’s less visual trickery and the hazards are less penal. Putting together a great score at The Meadow Valleys is not easy, but there’s less chance of shooting a high score compared to The River.
Where The River often hides the best options off the tee, The Meadow Valleys tends to put everything right in front of you. This makes tee shots less stressful, but it also invites the golfer to make their own trouble with overly bold plays.
I found that, from essentially the same total yardage, I hit more drivers at The Meadow Valley than I did at The River. The short drives at The Meadow Valley are quite short, but the majority of holes allow you to swing away.
The approach shots at the Meadow Valley aren’t as mentally taxing as the ones at The River because there’s less water. That doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to inflate your score if you lose focus. There are plenty of huge bunkers waiting to gobble up stray shots.
One of the biggest challenges in hitting greens at The Meadow Valleys is dealing with the elevation. A number of greens are perched up high, requiring you to adjust your yardages. When considering your strategy on an approach, give some thought to areas where you can miss and still be on the same level as the green. If you get tangled in the rough pitching up to the green, your chances of saving par are minimal.
The par 3s at The Meadow Valleys are some of the toughest holes on the course. #3 is a straightforward hole that demands accuracy. If you can’t hit a cut, your tee shot on #8 is going to get wet. #15 is a long forced carry, though the green is deceptively deep. Finally, #17, the hole that’s supposed to be the easiest on the course, is a medium-length forced carry to a green defended by a giant maple tree. Any 3s that you post on your card will be well-earned.
Greens & Surrounds
The greens at The Meadow Valleys are average in size and more regular in shape than those at The River. There are very few flat putts, but the contours tend to be subtle. You won’t find many putts that look unmakeable, but they are precious few gimmes.
Just like The River, there are very few good places to miss the greens at The Meadow Valleys. Thick rough borders the greens making a short miss the best option most of the time. Be sure to play away from the bunkers as the elevation of the greens makes them an even bigger hazard.
My 3 Favorite Holes
#10 – Quiver
This hole has a look that’s unlike anything else on the course. The fairway is tightly lined with trees, but you’ll need a fairway wood at most to position yourself correctly. I loved the approach shot with a bunker in your face, a little visual confusion with the shoulder on the right, and a modest-sized green that’s a short iron away.
#5 – Tree Stand
This medium-length par 4 tests your ability to create a good angle off the tee. You don’t need a huge drive to have a good shot, but being too far right or left may cause the trees that frame the green to block you out.
#13 – Chimney
This short par 4 doglegs to the left, but you’ll have an obstructed view if you don’t play far enough to the right. The green is small and extremely elevated, so having a short club in your hand is a big advantage.
One of my takeaways from two days at Blackwolf Run is that the place creates a wonderful sense of community among its guests. People who’ve never met are able to strike up conversations because they’re all having a great time playing fantastic golf courses.
For this, the golf, the food, and much more, I can’t give Kohler a high enough recommendation. I loved my time there and will be back as soon and as often as possible.
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