The meetings-friendly destinations of East Central Wisconsin sport the terrain for some of the Badger State’s most scenic golf courses, where groups can compete in tournaments and enjoy post-play receptions and banquets at on-site facilities.
Thornberry Creek at Oneida, the official golf course of the Green Bay Packers, features the nine-hole Iroquois course and the 18-hole Legends course.
According to Joshua R. Doxtator, PGA, COO, the golf destination has received many accolades and recently underwent upgrades in preparation for the inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Classic this past July.
“The Oneida Nation invested millions of dollars into a brand-new practice facility, bunker renovation, locker rooms and new event space,” he said.
Thornberry Creek at Oneida is a leading regional host for corporate and charity events, as it boasts the largest clubhouse in the state. It accommodates small groups in its scenic Porch
Room overlooking the course, larger upscale gatherings in the 7,000-square-foot Hawk’s Crest Ballroom and up to 420 people in the new Eagle Room.
“Our terrace, a beautiful setting overlooking the first tee and the 18th green, is great for wine tastings, cigar nights and live music,” Doxtator said. “We pride ourselves on service, and you’ll never go thirsty at Thornberry. At Leinie Lodge on the course you can enjoy brats and great burgers during the round, and our refreshment cart service will see you every three to four holes.”
Fond du Lac-based Rolling Meadows Golf Course, a popular option for regional tournaments, presents 27 playable but challenging holes for golfers, according to David Brandenburg, golf course manager.
“With seven sets of rated tees, a golfer can choose the length of course that matches their skill level,” he said.
Brandenburg added that the staff at the golf course can facilitate friendly group competition, including putting and chipping contests near the clubhouse for added fun before or after a tournament.
“Our clubhouse features a casual bar and grill for groups of up to 120 but most of our groups prefer the natural setting of our banquet tent overlooking the 27th hole and driving range,” he said.
Rolling Meadows is also home to an 18-hole footgolf course that has also been popular for corporate groups. The game, played with a soccer ball, is an engaging alternative for non-golfers.
Also located in Fond du Lac is the Whispering Springs Golf Club, an 18-hole championship-style course featuring an extensive practice facility and bent grass from tee to green on every hole.
The golf course can accommodate group outings of up to 144 players, according to Joe Nagan, pro shop manager. “We pride ourselves in providing the best service possible.”
Among the contests available during play are the “bowling” putting game, during which players try to hit the ball in certain cups for points, and the balcony ball toss, which has players toss five golf balls with the same number toward a hole on the green.
“Whoever lands closest to the hole, or in the hole, wins a prize,” Nagan said. “Our outing accommodations include beverage cart service on the course, customized cart signs and scorecards, and digital scoring after the event.”
Whispering Springs also boasts a renovated clubhouse with an upstairs banquet hall and bar, a downstairs bar and grill, audiovisual capabilities and complimentary Wi-Fi for events.
Located in Fox Cities at the Neenah-based Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel & Conference Center is the nine-hole Bridgewood Golf Course.
At this “picturesque, tree-lined” course, golfers can choose to play either regular golf or big-cup golf, appealing to both skilled and inexperienced players, according to Tami Erickson, Bridgewood Resort’s director of marketing and public relations.
“A few years ago big-cup golf was added to the golf course’s greens,” she said. “This fun option of putting into a 15-inch cup is ideal for fundraisers and company golf outings.”
During play, a beverage cart makes regular visits to players, and meal functions can be arranged before or after play.
“Groups can hold receptions or banquets in one of the banquet rooms or outside overlooking the golf course,” Erickson said. “The professional catering team is happy to assist with all of the event planning.”
The Orchards at Egg Harbor, located in Door County, was once an active cherry and apple orchard before transforming into an award-winning 18-hole golf course.
“We are in the process of replanting apple and cherry trees throughout the course,” said Jack Jackson, managing partner.
Other highlights of the course include hole 16, which was voted one of the top 18 holes in northeastern Wisconsin, and the on-site clubhouse, which is used for gatherings before and after corporate tournaments.
“The clubhouse, which is perfect for association meetings or any special occasions, can seat 150 people,” Jackson said.
Nearby Sheboygan is Destination Kohler, a premier meetings destination featuring Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, which boast two courses each.
According to Dirk Willis, general manager and group director of golf for the Kohler Company, these courses have hosted many televised professional tournaments, including three PGA championships and the upcoming Ryder Cup in 2020.
“All of the courses rank in the top 100 in the country; we have so many great golf holes,” Willis said. “Golf is a major amenity for corporate groups here, as it allows them to interact with clients and socialize outside of the workplace.”
As host to about 600 group events per year, including multiple-day tournaments on more than one course for 12 to 150 players, the staff is accustomed to working with planners.
“We can accommodate any type of event,” Willis said. “We get our team together to go over all the options, and reality is, we can do anything they want. We customize shirts, hats, gift items, prizes—there is no template.”
Popular tournaments include scrambles, an interactive tag team-like way to play, and for smaller groups, a Ryder Cup-style competition with two teams of 10 or so golfers playing against each other.
After hitting the links, groups can enjoy further mingling at the Irish Barn, which overlooks Lake Michigan and the 18th hole of Whistling Straits.
Sheboygan-based Pine Hills Country Club, a private facility that allows outside public play depending on availability, accommodates various entertaining formats, including scrambles, best ball, points and blind bogie events, according to Ted Osmundson, PGA, general manager.
“To add fun, there are many options of hole prizes, such as closest to the pin, closest to the river, long drive and short drive,” he said. “Prizes include pre-selected merchandise from our pro shop and pro shop gift certificates. We also provide the option of tee prizes for the entire group of golfers, which would include custom logo golf balls, shirts and golf towels.”
Food and beverage during play can be arranged, and Pine Hills also has a clubhouse with private meeting rooms and a large banquet room to host a cocktail hour or an awards ceremony after play.
“There are breathtaking panoramic golf course views from the clubhouse and banquets areas,” Osmundson said.