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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Fairways & Greens
August 18, 2017

Big Fish Golf Club - Experience The Best Of Both Worlds
Big Fish Golf Club #17 Photo Courtesy of Paul Hundley Photography
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Big Fish Golf Club #17 Photo Courtesy of Paul Hundley Photography
Big Fish Golf Club #9
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Big Fish Golf Club #9
By Will Brogan


Big Fish Golf Club mixes the best of links inspired golf with the best of the tree-lined hilly terrain of the Nothwoods into 18 holes of "pure golf". Pete Dye designed the golf course, which opened less than a decade ago. However, Dye will be the first to tell you that Tim Liddy did most of the work to create Big Fish in its unique style.

The Golf Course
Big Fish is the longest golf course in the Hayward area, challenging scratch golfers with 7,231 yards over a par 72 layout. Dye's wife, Alice, shows her expertise and influence on the course as well, as the forward tees play to an accessible 4,940 yards (and a par 73). Three additional tee boxes sandwiched in between give golfers plenty of options to find the right fit for their round at Big Fish.

The course begins with a journey that certainly differs from the other courses in the area; on sandy, "links" like dunes that look like they belong in Scotland or Ireland rather than Northwestern Wisconsin. Plenty of bunkers (over 60 in all) are seen on the front nine, most of them being part of small clusters near the gently sloped but fast paced greens. The lone hole with water on the course is the 560-yard par 5 seventh, as a lake runs the length of the hole down the left side.

You'd be hard pressed to find a nine-hole stretch that compares to the remarkable links style of Big Fish's front side, at least in the Upper Midwest. Those familiar with many of Dye's legendary courses might draw similarities to two PGA Championship venues, Whistling Straits and The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Simply put, the front nine at Big Fish is reason alone to make the trip to Hayward and try to catch the 'Big Fish'.

Not to be outdone, the back nine is no slouch either. In fact, many golfers would likely suggest that the back nine is the harder of the two. While still considerably bunkered (over three dozen on the last nine), the two main features on the backside are Wisconsin's woodlands and substantial changes in elevation. Like the front, each fairway is still wide and receptive to good tee shots. The sudden addition of trees on the back nine serve as a visual vice grip on your nerves, sure to make you feel cause for concern.

The course's most difficult hole by handicap makes its home on the back nine, the bunker less 15th. At 490 yards from the back, and uphill all the way, it feels like a par 5, but is actually a four on the card. In fact, golfers may be standing over their third shot with a sizeable amount of ground left to cover and get an "are we there yet" feeling similar to a child experiencing the last few hours of a trip down to Disney World. To make matters more challenging, there is a multi-story drop off from the right side of the green to one of the lower points on the property that gives a whole new meaning to "getting up and down".

The greens at Big Fish are done in typical Pete Dye fashion; fairly easy to lag it close to the hole from far away, but with subtle breaks that make the three to five footers anything but a "gimme". If playing a competitive round with your buddies at Big Fish, you'll want to make them putt it out every time! The greens are receptive to approach shots from many different routes, but some holes will funnel approaches to areas that will create a very challenging effort to two putt.

Additional Features
A "pure golf" facility in the truest sense of the term, Big Fish does not get caught up in many of the activities associated with a "country club" type atmosphere. Still, there are two dining areas set apart from the clubhouse that really make a large, multi-level "turn stand". Mulligan's Pub takes care of breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers a patio to sit above the 18th green and watch foursomes finish their rounds. Or, groups up to fifty (though generally fit for 20 or so) can enjoy the Eagle's Nest lounge as well.

One of the better practice facilities in the area is on display at Big Fish. The driving range is long enough that even Masters Champion Bubba Watson would be hard pressed to hit one off the property, and the range offers plenty of targets to allow you to fine-tune your distance control. The practice green sits high above the first tee, allowing golfers to get a peek of what awaits them during the coming round.

Play Big Fish!
Chosen by Golf Digest as one of America's Best New Places to Play in 2005, Big Fish has a uniqueness to it that's not easily found in the Upper Midwest. The challenge of a Pete Dye/Tim Liddy design is reason enough to "catch" Big Fish, but golfers will ultimately feel that the sense of having the "best of both worlds" is the true reason to keep coming back.





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