The Lure of Lawsonia is Stronger in 2014 as Tree Removal Project Revitalizes The Links Course
Wider, More Open Spaces
By Brian Weis
As the third finest course in the Badger State within GolfWeek Magazine's 2014 Best You Can Play rankings, The Links Course at Lawsonia could have easily rested on its 85 year history of greatness. Fortunately for golf fans throughout the Midwest, the 1929 William Langford gem in Green Lake, WI has not. Under the direction of Oliphant Management, who formed a partnership with Lawsonia last fall, a bold tree removal initiative is underway that in the end will restore The Links to its original intent. I was fortunate enough to recently interview Craig Haltom, vice president of golf management for Oliphant, and we discussed a variety of topics as it relates to the ongoing renovations at Lawsonia.
1) Please give our readers a detailed overview of the recent tree removal project on The Links Course and what golfers should now expect when playing this venerable layout?
"The project started over 10 years ago with a plan that golf architect Ron Forse put together, and that the course superintendent Mike Berwick executed. The Links course had become littered with trees, which collectively began to erode the links-like experience of playing the course. Over the years, trees had been planted as a backdrop to certain greens, to provide shade at tees, or planted as a perceived safety buffer -all things that might make sense on another course, but that really take away from what makes the Links course so unique."
"We have removed 200 trees from the Links Course (and quite a few from The Woodlands too). The most dramatic changes were completed last winter around Links No. 13 and No. 14. We took down 80 large white pines that were original to the course. We did not think the original architects would have ever intended for there to be a shady 'wall' of trees around those greens - which is what the trees had become after 80 years. Stepping up to the 14th tee was like walking into a room, and it was becoming increasingly difficult (nearly impossible) to grow grass on those greens. So as much for agronomic reasons as anything else, we made the decision to clear the trees. The response from golfers has been overwhelmingly positive, as you can once again see the cool elevation changes and contours around those holes. I'm about as much of a preservationist as you will find when it comes to golf courses and golf architecture, but when it comes to trees, they are living things and courses evolve. Tree management is one of the most important things we do on a course."
2) The Links Course at Lawsonia was named the 13th Most Fun course in the entire nation in a Sept. 2012 Golf Digest article. Why do you believe the Links is such an enjoyable course no matter how often you play it?
To begin with, I believe the greens on the Links are remarkable, and so unique to almost anything you can play in the Midwest. I spent three years in Scotland as a student before I moved to Wisconsin, and I knew from the first time I played the Links that it was the real deal (and that I would be coming back for the rest of my life). The course simply 'feels' and plays links-like, and that type of golf is as fun as it gets.
3) What are the top three improvements/changes Oliphant Management is looking forward to accomplishing at Lawsonia in 2014 or 2015?
Our top priority is the continued restoration efforts on the Links Course as mentioned above. We also now have expanded restaurant hours plus increased banquet and wedding capabilities. Finally, we have an overriding focus on customer service. Everything we do is about putting the customer first.
4) We have focused exclusively on The Links Course so far, but it's also important to remember that Lawsonia is home to another championship course, The Woodlands that was designed by Rocky Roquemore and opened for public play in 1991. How rare is it in your opinion to have two courses on one piece of land that are so opposite from each other yet both so outstanding?
It is rare... and it should be said that The Woodlands Course is just as popular as the Links (in fact, I'm pretty sure we do more rounds on the Woodlands). Our customers have a lot of fun splitting 36 holes at Lawsonia between two completely different kinds of golf courses, often in the same day. To be able to do that on one property, and to have overnight lodging practically on the course, is tough to beat.
5) Anything else you'd like to add about the property?
First off all thank you so much for this opportunity Brian. I can't think of a better place in the state to play 36 holes in one day and feel like you traveled miles and miles to do so. The contrast from Northern Wisconsin within The Woodlands Course's dramatic forest and wildlife, to the Links Course and the feel of playing in the British Open! We have a great all day rate all season long here for just $105 weekdays and $145 on the weekends as well as houses on property to bring the group and stay. Don't forget about our full service restaurant and bar Langford's Pub, serving food and your favorite beverages and food daily. For more information on Lawsonia, make sure to visit their website at www.lawsonia.com or call the pro shop at (920) 294-3320.
Revised: 09/23/2014 - Article Viewed 23,564 Times - View Golf Course Profile
Written By: Brian Weis
Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.
All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.
On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.
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