Spooner Golf Club – Golf To Digest
By E. Nolan
I’m forever impressed by the resilience of this golf course. Without a hotel or a thousand lakes around them they draw Twin Cities (and Central Wisconsin) golfers over in droves. Heading to Hayward… Stop and play Spooner. Heading to Duluth… Stop and play Spooner. It must make sense on so many different itineraries because General Manager Fred Friedman says he talks to people from all over every year. Hayward with all of its lakes and resorts may be the area’s “major” draw, with many claiming it the “Golf Capital of Wisconsin,” but Hayward isn’t that capital without Spooner Golf Club. In other words, many believe Spooner is THE course in “The Golf Capital of Wisconsin.”
It’s earned its fair share of fame over the years. When the Wisconsin Department of Tourism published their Dairyland Dream 18, they selected the 408-yard, Par 4, 18th hole as the first hole. It’s a challenging closing hole once deemed so difficult that members elected not to play it for two whole decades. Modern equipment and golfer fitness have changed that aversion though, and now everyone loves to take their shot at glory.
Regardless of which way you go, Spooner Golf Club is only a two-hour drive from the Twin Cities. Highway 63 is shorter and more scenic. I35 and Highway 70 is zip then zip. When you arrive you’ll find a beautiful championship course carved along the shimmering shoreline of Spooner Lake. The Par 71 or 72 Tommy Vardon layout isn’t overly long, tipping out at 6,458 yards, but it’s length is in it’s width so to speak, as there is plenty of course here for you to play on whichever direction you hit the ball.
The brother of famous professional golfer Harry Vardon built the original nine in 1930 and Dr. Gordon Emerson built the second nine some 50 years later. The 18-hole course standing today plays across three, rated regulation sets of tees, and then, strolling off those tee boxes, you discover one of the many reasons families, juniors and seniors love this course so much. There isn’t just one set of forward tees. There are two – both sets official PGA Family Course tees. Inclusivity isn’t an afterthought at Spooner Golf Club. They literally and intentionally cater to every golfer of every age and playing level.
In 2010 the Membership and Board of Directors approved a double row irrigation system for the entire course. Mr. Friedman told me, “You’ll notice our conditioning is nearly flawless and we don’t struggle with consistent playing surfaces like many other courses do. We take a great deal of pride in our maintenance and in maintaining what we believe is the best and most fun golf course in the area.”
The course can adequately be described as topsy-turvy, tumbling across rolling hills towards greens of many different shapes and sizes. Walls of beautiful pine trees line the fairways, creating serene separation among the holes, but those fairways are more than wide enough and plenty forgiving, allowing the golfer to fire away on all cylinders with every club and to take chances… risks… that often lead to great rewards. It’s also worth noting that, because most of the trees are pines, you don’t have to worry about leaves obstructing play in the fall. You can come to northern Wisconsin and take in all the amazing autumn beauty and still have a flawless golf experience!
Guests at Spooner Golf Club frequently gather around the bar in The Restaurant, where a refreshed menu offers a number of appetizers, flatbread pizzas and quick meals to savor along with a full compliment of beer, wine and liquors. Have a seat, or stand, take in the game on the big-screen TVs and hang out among friends. The social scene at Spooner is a fun and lively one.
Spooner offers a number of specials like ½ Price Sundays (see website for details). Officially recognized as a PGA Family Course (since 2007) – one of only 17 in Wisconsin – their program includes a beginner short course, savings for Junior Golfers and accompanying adults, FREE family clinics, and special events and most of all an environment catering to game progress. Now is as great a time as ever to bring your entire family up/over to Spooner Golf Club to play. Better yet, the golf course does partner with a half-dozen or so local hotels for Stay & Play deals, making customized golf vacations fairly simple and affordable.
Spooner Golf Club offers leagues for men, women and juniors, PGA professional instruction courtesy of Fred Friedman, and caters to groups of all sizes for events (up to 300 people). The bottom line is, you’re going to have fun at Spooner regardless of who you come with or how long you stay. The course will test you and reward you, amuse you and befuddle you. If and when you’re cutting through northern Wisconsin, make a beeline for Spooner.