White Eagle Golf Club – A Slice Of Heaven Just Over The Border

By Tim Ryan

There is a beautiful golf course in Hudson, Wisconsin, which has maintained as excellent of condition as any in the state throughout the 2011 season. What happened to other courses in the region, whether it was winterkill, heat stress, or turf bugs, Superintendent John Bichner and his grounds crew have chased off all pests and potential problems.

This golf course, designed by Gill Design, has forced carries and a couple of steeply downhill par threes. This sprawling slice of heaven on earth features a few “easy” par fours and lengthy and meandering par fives. The clubhouse staff is welcoming, and PGA Head Professional, Matt Vandelac is one of the best golf course operators in the Twin Cities.

Who? What? Where? White Eagle Golf Club in Hudson.

Shaved out of and into clusters of trees, and covering a spectacular 350 acres in the hillsides in the St. Croix River Valley, White Eagle Golf Club provides even the most frazzled with a splendid chance at solitude and calmness as the day unfolds on this dynamic property.

Taking flight on the “big dog” and oak framed golf course can require brute force. Spotting a soaring eagle or two, as well as autumn glory shining through the pines and meadows, makes most want to skip the watering hole at the turn. And that is just the front nine.

The back nine, which begins with a lengthy and straight away par 3, appropriately named “Hidden Lake” because of the water hazard that sneakily flows around the left side of the green, then snakes behind it to where the player almost forgets about it is as they hit. Even with a catch bunker not visible from the tee box, there is no doubt that this hole has spelled disaster for even the finest of golfers.

A nice breeze through the trees to reach the eleventh tee is when Gill’s vision really comes alive. This healthy par five is the classic kind, demanding shots both straight and far all the way up to the green.
Serenity appears again when one steps to the twelfth tee, a par four which many claim to be the easiest hole on the course.

Another healthy drive on the path and back up through the trees brings the player to a downhill par 3. While the tee shot is demanding, the sleek and sloping putting green is what makes it such a difficult hole. So, escaping with just two ticks of the putter is acceptable! But don’t let up, and get ready for the toughest test of the day, for number fourteen at White Eagle is as challenging as one may ever play.

Aptly named “Psycho Drama,” this dogleg to the right tops out at 418 yards from the black tees. A young entrepreneur could end up with a healthy profit by collecting balls from the pond on the right and the forest to the left of the fairway, as this hole gives the player the impression that a hammered first shot is the only hope for making a par. Not so. When playing it, think about saving heartache and laying back and left with a club less than a driver off the tee, so as to steer away from disaster. The uphill playing second shot gives the player plenty of room to miss to the right, and it is easier to hit a long iron or fairway wood from a flat lie. Heed this good advice and thank me later.

By the time the fifteenth hole is reached and golfers have had the opportunity to take in the magnificent color of the landscape and changing leaves, they’ll be left to wonder how Bichner and his guys have managed to keep the course so clean and clear of debris. Their talent is impressive! While it is okay to be inspired, keep focus, because the finishing stretch of holes at White Eagle will test your nerve and talent.

The par 5 sixteenth hole is a really tricky one to play. The blind tee shot, even if it is absolutely pounded up the right side or center of the fairway, leads to a more than uphill playing second shot. By more than uphill, think Buck Hill. The keys to successfully playing the “Staircase” are: 1) hit the fairway off tee; 2) try to land the ball in a flat area with second shot; 3) keep it short of the green in the worst case; 4) plan on getting it up and down.

The final two holes at White Eagle can be deflating. Not because they are too extreme or severe, but because of the realization that the joy is coming to an end. And when that final putt drops on the 18th green, a waterfall soothing the mind should bring peace to the swagger. For White Eagle is a fun foray through the forest, away from the rigors and strife. Most certainly, it will lend calm feelings, and rejuvenate your life.