Layout & Strategy

Oconomowoc Golf Club

Course Layout & Strategy

Oconomowoc Golf Club is a classic Donald Ross course layout accentuating the natural terrain and unusual ground formations left to us by the Wisconsin Glacier many thousands of years ago.  Restorations and course upgrades have produced a course that presents contoured fairways which take advantage of the topographical features while providing playability to a range of golfing capabilities. Greens have been renovated to maintain challenges presented by elevations and sometimes steep slopes while accommodating faster speeds generated by short green turf of today’s game.

Mr. Ross seemed to have an intuitive touch for routing that required very little walking from green to the next tee.  All part of his belief that “golf should be a pleasure not a penance.”

Click on the Hole-by-hole Strategy for an announcer highlighted video review of each hole. Captions accompany.



Hole 1 | Hole 2 | Hole 3 | Hole 4 | Hole 5 | Hole 6 | Hole 7 | Hole 8 | Hole 9 | Hole 10 | Hole 11

Hole 12 | Hole 13 | Hole 14 | Hole 15 | Hole 16 | Hole 17 | Hole18

Hole 1

Par 4
White tees 373 yards 13 handicap
Gold tees 360 yards 11 handicap
Red tees 360 yards 13 handicap

Donald Ross sets the tone with a visually pleasing first hole where an elevated tee presents a picturesque tree-lined landing area. The fairway bunker located along the right side of the landing area offers the player a choice: Play short of the bunker and hit a long iron into the shallow green or fly the bunker and be rewarded with short iron to the green.

Hole 2

Par 4
White tees 418 yards 3 handicap
Gold tees 381 yards 3 handicap
Red tees 381 yards 3handicap

Hole 2 is a hint of Scotland. The Blind tee shot, a common characteristic found on Scottish courses, is the initial challenge. And the large right hand side fairway bunker at the top of the ridge must also be navigated. Take care with the approach shot as the angle to the green is the opposite of a false front. The approach and front of the green slopes away from the golfer causing an aggressively played ball to skip forward and run to the back of the green.

Hole 3

Par 4
White tees 426/392 yards 7/5 handicap 7
Gold tees 354 yards 7handicap
Red tees 354 yards 5 handicap

The third hole has two positions for the white tees …392 or 426 yards. But either tee box presents an uphill tee shot which lengthens the effective yardage. The green slopes from back to front and receives the approach shots well, but penalizes the shot that carries long leaving a tricky and extremely quick downhill putt. Approach shots missed to either side will be bunkered leaving the player with a difficult sand shot to a green that slopes away.

Hole 4

Par 3
White tees 192 yards 15 handicap
Gold tees 185 yards 15 handicap
Red tees 139 yards 17 handicap
Go west young man . On a classic Donald Ross layout each par 3 faces a different direction. The first of a
demanding quartet of par threes is a 195 yard long iron or hybrid shot into a narrow opening to the green. Slightly offline shots will be swallowed by either of the two flanking greenside bunkers. Once on the green, expect much movement as the green is pitched from back left to front right.

Hole 5

Par 4
White tees 414 yards 5/7 handicap
Gold tees 408 yards 5 handicap
Red tees (par 5) 408 yards 9 HANDCAP

Hole 5 is beautifully contoured fairway with a flowing dogleg left featuring a bunker on the left which must be navigated off the tee. The player’s approach shot to the green is blind and the fairway slopes down to the green. Too much club or too strong a play and the ball will carom over the green; beware as there is a 15 to 18 foot drop straight down behind the green.

Hole 6

Par 3
White tees 165 yards 17 handicap
Gold tees 140 yards 17 handicap
Red tees 109 yards 15 handicap

It’s Northward on this challenging par 3. Use enough club to carry the ominous oversized bunker that sits in front of the green. Miss hit the tee shot left and be bunkered. Miss hit right and you are faced with a downhill chip to a green that slopes sharply away. Hole 6 sports the largest green on the course featuring numerous contours so expect the putt to have plenty of movement.

Hole 7

Par 4
White tees 393 yards 9 handicap
Gold tees 393 yards 9 handicap
Red tees 316 yards 11 handicap

The seventh hole offers an Inviting tee shot because the subtle dogleg left fairway is one of the most generous on the golf course. The approach shot to the elevated green requires the player to move up a club to carry the full distance. Players are advised keep the approach shot below the hole as the putting surface is more deceptively downhill than it looks.

Hole 8

Par 5
White tees 500 yards 1 handicap
Gold tees 470 yards 1 handicap
Red tees 410 yards 1 handicap

The 8th hole is a relatively short par 5 with plenty of strategic choices. Long ball hitters can try to fly the tee shot past the well placed fairway bunkers giving the player an opportunity to reach the green in two. Tee shots played short of the bunkers can lay up on a tabletop perched above a ravine… for 130 yard iron into a long green. Accuracy is critical because a deep bunker left and two pot bunkers right collect the errant shot. The undulating green requires an exacting read.

Hole 9

Par 4
White tees 338 yards 11 handicap
Gold tees 280 yards 13 handicap
Red tees 280 yards 7 handicap

A truly classic design requiring golfers to play up the hill to a well bunkered green showcasing a traditional clubhouse setting. The flanking fairway bunkers demand an accurate tee shot. And players are cautioned to take enough club to reach the elevated green fronted by a steeply sloped approach. Prevailing winds cannot be felt from valley, but will stall a ball in midflight. The tiered green severely sloped from back to front is the course’s most difficult to navigate.

Hole 10

Par 4
White tees 374 yards 14 handicap
Gold tees 368 yards 10 handicap
Red tees 368 yards 14 handicap

This hole begins with a blind tee shot to a dogleg left fairway that slopes hard from left to right. Long and strait will land through the fairway finding thick rough and tree trouble on the right. Typically, the player will have a short iron approach to the most narrow green on the golf course. Bunkers on either side of the green collect errant shots. Sand shots from these deep bunkers present very little putting surface to work with.

Hole 11

Par 4
White tees 407 yards 10 handicap
Golf tees 395 yards 8 handicap
Red tees 316 yards 12 handicap

Hole eleven is a soft dogleg left featuring a blind second shot with the final 30 yards pitched toward the green. Players who hit their shot off the tee will face a murderer’s row of mature trees that force a punch out. Use one club less on the approach shot as the stated yardage plays short and balls that fly to the hole location will carom through the green into the gnarly rough surrounding the green.

Hole 12

Par 3
White tees 199 yards 18 handicap
Gold tees 182 yards 18 handicap
Red tees 143 yards 18 handicap

Number twelve is Southbound. A picture perfect hole that takes full advantage of its scenic setting. An elevated tee shot to a tear drop shaped green set in the valley and framed by artistically sculpted bunkers, with willowy fescue on the left and mature tree line on the right. All the player has to do to score is negotiate the down slope, the swirling winds, those beautiful bunkers and then hold the green.

Hole 13

Par 4
White tees 375 yards 4 handicap
Gold tees 298 yards 12 handicap
Red tees 298 yards 2 handicap

The thirteenth is OGC’s signature hole… a classic Donald Ross “work of art”. At 378 yards, not overly lengthy, yet every shot is highly demanding. The tee shot must split the trees on left and the course’s only water hazard to the right. The second shot is a Mount Everest climb up a steep hill to a green with a false front that is situated on the edge of a ridge. Approach shots that don’t carry the false front, will end up with a ticklish pitch back up the hill. The challenging green slopes severely from back to front.

Hole 14

Par 4
White tees 366 yards 12 handicap
Gold tees 298 yards 14 handicap
Red tees 298 yards 10 handicap

The tee shot on the fourteenth hole is one of the few where the hole design works left to right and accuracy is most important. Cut the corner over fairway bunker for perfect positioning is the risk /reward opportunity. That perfect tee shot will leave a short iron into a pint-sized undulating green that plays tricks with the ball. The tee shot that veers offline will result in a lie of thick rough and significant tree trouble.

Hole 15

Par 4
White tees 408 yards 6 handicap
Gold tees 397 yards 4 handicap
Red tees 358 yards 6 handicap

The fifteenth begins with a tee box perched high above a fairway that begins at the ridge base and maintains an uphill climb to the green. Tee shots must be played down the left side as the fairway slopes severely from left to right. Take an extra club on approach as uphill lie will add loft to your club. The inclined saucer shaped green makes a straight putt a rare occurrence.

Hole 16

Par 5
White tees 500 yards 2 handicap
Gold tees 475 yards 2 handicap
Red Tees 400 yards 4 handicap

Hole sixteen is a sweeping dogleg left with a significant fall-off left and uphill trees to the right. The tee shot that is long and slightly right will catch the small fairway pot bunker. Hug the dogleg to close left and you will not have a shot at the green. The elevated green at the top of a steep hill demands an approach that is all carry. Offline shots will find one of the two greenside bunkers. Land short and the ball will come back down the hill.

Hole 17

Par 3
White tees 206 yards 16 handicap
Gold tees 191 yards 16 handicap
Red tees (par 4) 216 yards 16 handicap

It’s Easterly with the prevailing winds on the courses longest par 3. Don’t be fooled. The typical downwind advantage is offset by the steady uphill climb to the elevated green. The left to right contoured fairway approach tends to kick the ball into the menacing small pot bunker that is situated short and right of the green. Seventeen is perhaps the most difficult green on the golf course to get up and down. Subtle undulations and a severe back to front slope demands caution.

Hole 18

Par 4
White tees 403 yards 8 handicap
Gold tees 401 yards 6 handicap
Red tees 401 yards 8 handicap

The eighteenth hole is a seemingly wide open tee shot to a fairrway that narrows as one approaches the landing area. The green setting is vintage Donald Ross: elevated, a visually deceptive false front, and bunkers to catch the commonly missed shots. Those hitting short right will find the deep greenside bunker in . And hitting long left results a downhill sand shot to a green that slopes sharply away.