50 Words or Less
The Woodlands golf course at Lawsonia (WI) provides a more typical Midwestern golf experience than The Links course. Tight off the tee. Current renovations should improve the greens and the course.
When two courses share a property, it’s unavoidable that one becomes the headliner. The Links Course [review HERE] at The Golf Courses of Lawsonia gets most of the ink thanks to its famous designers and annual place on Top 100 lists. Does that mean The Woodlands is an afterthought? Is it worth playing or should you book 36 on Lawsonia Links? I’ll give you my thoughts here.
Customer Service & Amenities
Lawsonia has a great atmosphere thanks to its staff. From the starter to the people driving the beer carts, everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. Our cart died midway through our second round, and someone had a fresh cart out to us in minutes.
The clubhouse is home to an average-sized pro shop that’s well-stocked with soft goods and a smattering of clubs and shoes. You’ll also find Langford’s Pub where you can have a beer and burger after your round. I can’t speak to the quality of Langford’s, but the food at the turn stand gives me confidence that it’s quite good. One nice amenity is that each cart has a laser rangefinder tethered to it.
Beauty & Scenery
The Woodlands course has a much more stereotypical Midwestern look than The Links. This is a heavily wooded course and the elevation is much less dramatic. There’s not a ton of water on the course, but the few opportunities to see the nearby lake are definitely the highlights.
In stark contrast to The Links, The Woodlands course will happily dish out punishment to those that don’t drive it accurately. The fairways are average in width, slightly wider than The Links, but if you miss the short grass, you can get in a lot of trouble. Because of the accuracy demands, my suggestion would be to pick tee boxes that don’t tax your length.
What’s interesting about The Woodlands is that it’s not super tight or penal on every hole in every direction. It’s entirely possible that you could spray the driver and end up, through pure luck, in decent spots all day. The other side of that coin is that you can hit respectable drives and end up in jail or losing balls. The fact that the course seems to give you some room and some hope ends up making it even more mentally taxing off the tee, in my opinion.
Once you get off the tee, The Woodlands course is fairly benign. The fairways are mostly flat, so you’ll have easy stances and lies. There are moderate elevation changes from the fairways to the greens, but few, if any, will require a full club adjustment. If you use good course management skills to take the stroke hazards out of play and minimize your trips to the beach, there’s no reason you can’t put together a lot of easy pars and bogeys.
Greens & Surrounds
By any standard, the greens at The Woodlands course are not particularly interesting, and they suffer that much more by comparison to The Links. They are average in size and largely flat. The conditions are good – they run smooth and reasonably fast – but there are few contours that affect your thinking in the approach or short game.
Similarly, the surrounds at The Woodlands are largely flat and without great challenge or intrigue. Most greens are protected with two or three bunkers, and even the bunkers lack much character. They’re a little bigger than average and not very steep or deep. If you have a reasonably strong short game, you don’t have anything to fear at The Woodlands.
The Woodlands is almost the polar opposite of The Links: demanding off the tee and largely uninteresting the rest of the way in. It’s not a bad course, it just lacks character.
Lawsonia is currently renovating The Woodlands Course, and I’m hopeful that the changes will bring it up to a level with The Links. Among the planned changes are a reduction in the number of bunkers from over 70 to 24. They’re also elevating some greens and adding undulations to the putting surfaces.
#3 – Par 3 – 168 Yards
Shown above, this is a dramatically downhill par 3 with an undersized green. There’s no bailing out left or right, so you need to block out the pretty views and hit a quality shot.
#2 – Par 4 – 341 Yards
Easily the most interesting hole on the course, this looks like a Y from above with the fairway splitting right and left at about 220 yards. Off the tee you can hit it straight, fade it to get a better look at the green, or be bold and draw it for the shortest approach. Any decision can lead to birdie or bogey, which makes this hole a lot of fun.
Least Favorite: #18 – Par 5 – 541 Yards
I don’t think I’ve ever called out a least favorite hole before, but, I’m making an exception, particularly since this is the closing hole. #18 hole plays straight for 400+ yards, then makes a sharp right turn uphill. This would be ok, but a copse of trees completely blocks out the corner meaning that the only way you can play this hole is to hit it straight and then play to the green from 100-120 yards out. A par 5 without options is zero fun.
In its current form, there’s nothing wrong with The Woodlands course at Lawsonia, but it’s clearly the second fiddle to The Links course. I’m happy to say I’ve played it once, but when I go back I’ll definitely stick to The Links until the renovation of The Woodlands is complete.