Writer hits local ‘PGA’ TourThis week's travels cover Northern Pines, Norwood and Pattison Park golf courses
By: By Paul Stein, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
I walked into the offices of the Superior Telegram and made my way to the spacious and opulent office of sports editor Ken Olson. “I’m going on the PGA Tour,” I said. Wide eyed, Olson reached into his desk, threw the sports department American Express Black Card at me and barked, “Get Tiger to talk.”
I left, forgetting to tell Olson that in this case, “PGA” stood for Paul’s Golf Adventure.
My goal was to play a selection of area golf courses and discover what they had to offer local golfers. I thought I was a pretty good golfer. Heck, most the times I could beat the score associated on the score card with the particular hole.
Then some killjoy pointed out I was looking at the handicap for the hole, not par. Well, be that as it may, I loaded up my golf bats and hit the road.
My first stop on the PGA Tour was Northern Pines Golf Course in Iron River. When I pulled into the facility I was immediately struck by the immaculate landscaping on the course and around the newer clubhouse.
Inside I met with owners Tim and Debbie Landgreen. In existence for 10 years, all the work at this beautiful course has been done by the Landgreen family who continues to operate all facets of the nine-hole, 3,045-yard course.
As we spoke about the course I looked about the clubhouse lodge and commented how immaculate it was. With a grill, pizza and full bar, the clubhouse is used for many outside events and parties such as reunions, weddings and special events.
Northern Pines Golf Course offers motorized carts and sports six leagues throughout the week.
“We are very family friendly and are family operated,” Tim Landgreen said. “We encourage new golfers as well as regulars. Our course, while not overly difficult, does offer challenges to players of all levels.”
I told Tim and Debbie that I wanted to play a sampling of their three best holes. After consultation amongst themselves, with the help of daughter Danielle, it was decided that a fair sampling would be No. 2, 7 and 9. Danielle was assigned to be my guide. She played golf for the Northwestern Tigers and at UW-Superior, until the program was suspended.
We started our play on No. 2 — 532 yards, dogleg left, par five. Wide and gracious fairways loomed before me as I deftly hit my tee shot somewhere never to be found again. No problem under “PGA Tour” rules, I can hit mulligans until I am safely on the fairway. Of course Danielle crushed her shot a mile.
Going from side to side to follow my shots down the fairway, I noted the great condition of the fairway and the first cut of rough. Finally, I left the blue grass fairway and hit green with an amazing skulled chip shot from 20 feet. Four putting the hole, I scored an amazing “9” for the hole. A great way to start the tour.
Our next hole was the par 4, 320-yard No. 7. Just off the men’s tee is a water hazard and the drive area is through a couple of trees, standing as sentinels protecting the balance of the fairway and the green. I selected a golf bat to tee off with and somehow managed to avoid any trouble with my tee shot. The red tees were beyond the aforementioned troubles. We completed the hole. I scored just one more shot than my guide, carding a double bogey.
Finally, the ninth hole. This hole is fairly straight forward — uphill, 331 yards, par 4, to an elevated green. I was just coming into my own and shared par with Danielle.
I was fishing for compliments on my play when I asked Danielle to comment on my game. “You should practice more and take some lessons,” Danielle said.
With Danielle’s comments cemented in my mind, the PGA Tour continued onto Pattison Park Golf Course.
There I spoke with long time clubhouse manager Shelloy Miller, who told me the nine hole course was built in 1972, and offers a fleet of 15 rental carts, has a full kitchen and bar, and enjoys the play of eight leagues a week.
The 2,056-yard, par 31 course has blue grass fairways and bent grass greens. A discussion ensued with Miller and golfer Terry Erickson of Amnicon Lake, who plays the course three or four times a week. They decided the three holes to be played would be No. 2, 5 and 8.
Erickson, a physical education teacher in Proctor agreed (reluctantly) to act as guide for the PGA Tour. She was playing that day as a “tune-up” for an up-coming family reunion outing.
Stepping onto the tee box at No. 2, I noted water to the right side, middle fairway. The 177-yard hole should be reachable with my 5-iron. It really should be. Due to the fact that the sun was in my eyes, the wind was blowing and any other excuses you want to list, my drive went left of the green, near the back edge. Two chips and three putts later I was up and down on this par three.
While surveying the course, I noted several parallel fairways. While a small smattering of trees delineated the fairways, when a person drives the way I do, there is really no problem playing back to the appropriate fairway.
No. 5 was the next test. Just a short 160-yard hop over a small stream with deep sides to an adequate sized green. Trees on the left and right, this was the perfect set-up for my 6-iron. Again, I pulled my shot to the left of the green, chipped, and two-putted for a bogey.
The eighth hole loomed ahead. A 210-yard straight shot shouldn’t be a problem, right? Well golf fans, the trees guarding the front of the green test a player’s ability to drive straight onto the green of this par 3 hole.
I reached into my golf bag and selected my 4-iron, a club in which I have no confidence. Driving short and just slightly left of the green, two chips and two putts scored me a double bogey.
It was time to decompress in the club house. I asked my guide, Erickson, for her impressions of the course she plays several times a week. Erickson said she was attracted to, “The personality of the place. Everyone is so friendly. The course is well kept and challenging.”
Again, fishing for a compliment on my game I asked for Erickson’s comment. “Keep your head down,” Erickson muttered and walked away.
Jim Nicholas greeted me at Norwood Golf Course in Lake Nebagamon, my next stop on the PGA Tour.
I found Norwood to be an interesting and unique experience along the tour. Except for a lack of ocean frontage, I would suggest this to be close to a links style course with rolling fairways and greens. The 2,067 yard par 31 nine-hole course is a test indeed, but it allows the novice the chance to work on a variety of shots not normally found on a flatter course.
Nicholas has been running the course for 18 years, and Norwood has been in the family since it was built in 1963. Nicholas told me the club enjoys nine different leagues, offers 16 carts for rental and everyone is greeted with a smile.
The clubhouse has a full bar and grill, a Friday night fish-fry, and a small pro shop. A campground at the course offers full hook-ups. And, if those amenities aren’t enough, Tucker the Dog will always greet you with a wag of his tail.
For the purposes of evaluation, Nicholas suggested holes No. 4, 6 and 8. He agreed to play hole No. 6 with me, but other duties precluded him from extended play.
Off we went to the par three, 146-yard, web-cam equipped hole. From the tee box a golfer can see a pond that intersects the fairway midpoint. The green is slightly elevated. I reached for my trusty 7-iron, teed up, and after my drive I was putting. Jim also hit the green, but rolled off, pitched and two putted for a bogey. Somehow, I was able to two-putt through the pressure for a hole-winning par. Witness to this monumental event was Tucker the Dog.
I should end on a winning note, but I went on to play a few other holes. Each was unique with its layout and design and each was a good test of a golfer’s ability. Only 20 minutes from Superior, tee times are usually available and 35 percent of the golfers at Norwood come from the Duluth/Superior area. The fully irrigated course is always in great playable shape.
Part one of the “PGA Tour” is now carded, and part two continues next edition. Note to editor Olson, I’m not done with the AmEx card yet.
NOTE: Nemadji, Poplar, Hidden Greens North and Botten’s will be highlighted on Friday.