“The Wisconsin vs. California comparison is an interesting one,” says Kevin Price, a friend and avid golfer who lived in Wisconsin for 10 years before moving back to Monterey, California in 2009, which is where he was raised. “What’s the most macho public trip in each place? I’d say Pebble, Spyglass, Bayonet, Pasatiempo and Harding Park is an ultimate Northern California itinerary. In Wisconsin, you’d play Erin Hills, Blackwolf Run River, Straits and eventually both new ones at Sand Valley.
“In that matchup, I’d take California. But only by a slim margin. Seriously, it’s close.”
Price and other Wisconsin insiders also swear by Lawsonia Links, SentryWorld, Lake Arrowhead, Washington County and Brown Deer.
California could counter with Torrey South, CordeValle, PGA West (Stadium) and both at Pelican Hill.
“What Sand Valley does is makes a Wisconsin trip an absolute must,” says Price. “We all know Mike Keiser is going to do it right. And with the space he has out there, the mind reels at the possibilities.”
If you shelve Wisconsin’s short season for a second (roughly April 1 through October 31); acknowledge there’s no ocean but admit Lake Michigan is a worthy alternative; and recognize that a remote course only adds to the adventures and charms of getting there, if you’re top-seeded California, you have to put the pin in on 18, remove your cap and shake hands having won this match 1-up. But down deep, you know this budding golf state they call Wisconsin is a little like a 22-year-old Jon Rahm, a favorite and my pick to win at Erin Hills.
Rahm and Wisconsin are already competing with the elite, and they’re both only getting better. And fast.