STEVENS POINT, Wis. - Stepping onto the first tee at the SentryWorld Golf Course provides a glimpse of what's to come.
To the right is the 16th green, the famous par 3 surrounded by 36,000 colorful flowers. It's easy to get caught looking ahead to playing the hole during the round, but that's a mistake. There are plenty of other beautiful and challenging holes on SentryWorld, Wisconsin's original destination golf course built in 1982 before The American Club and Erin Hills Golf Course burst onto the scene. Isolated in the central part of the state, SentryWorld used to be tough to chase down for golfers visiting Kohler and Erin Hills, but with the new Sand Valley Golf Resort less than an hour away, more bucket-list chasers should find their way to one of the Midwest's classiest facilities.
A 2015 renovation by original architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. and associates Jay Blasi and Bruce Charlton modernized SentryWorld, adding length (stretching it from 6,900 yards to 7,145 yards) and new "Better Billy" bunkers, while also smoothing out more user-friendly contoured greens and altering nearly every hole. In certain cases, holes that received the most complaints (like the original no. 17) were completely redesigned. Premier conditioning is now the norm.
Water comes into play on five holes on each nine, so study the GPS on the carts carefully to find your way around the tree-lined property without losing a ball. After the round, stop by the new Fieldhouse, a re-imagined north-woods lodge home to a banquet facility, indoor tennis courts and PJ's, a cool restaurant/bar where golfers love to hang out for good eats and a drink.