Review: Blue Mound Golf & Country Club


  • Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
  • Private
  • Seth Raynor (1926)
  • 148th Classic in USA (Golfweek)

There’s certain names in golf architecture that as soon as you say them everyone knows who they are and their reputation. Stanley Thompson, for his artistic vision and flair with bunkering; Donald Ross for his routings; Alister Mackenzie for, well, being Alister Mackenzie. But Seth Raynor stands apart from most of them, due to the fact that his golf courses are anything but similar.

Known for his template holes in the same manner as another world famous architect—C.B. MacDonald, whom Seth Raynor worked for—these holes are designed after some of the best holes across the pond in the same fashion to help bring the architectural integrity of Scottish golf courses to the United States.

Blue Mound was my first Seth Raynor design, and I had an absolutely amazing time. The golf course is so fun, and the architecture was stunning as well!

The course starts out with a yard-shy of 400 yard par 4. The tee shot is fairly normal, nothing too crazy to navigate and a nice introduction to the golf course.

Where this hole gets its identity (like a lot of Blue Mound) is the green complex. Initially, you’ll notice a very harsh right to left slope, and may think “hey, this is kind of a redan template” but then you’ll stop and think “no, no, usually a redan template is on a par 3.” Luckily, both are correct, as Blue Mound’s par 4, 1st is a redan template, and a redan template is used on a par 3 later in the round as well.

The second hole is one of my favorites here, thanks to the green complex. The templates name is “Double Plateau,” and at 415 yards, is a wedge in. Modern technology has made this hole even scarier, in my opinion, as spinning a wedge off one of the plateaus is entirely possible. The tee shot plays slightly up and over.

But the green complex is absolutely all-world, with the left portion and the back tongue being raised, and the front right is below. A bunker long left and right are the main defence, and to the pin I had, on the back shelf, is by far the hardest pin on the golf course.

The third is one of the most well-known templates in the world. A huge swale in front of this green, with the front pad being fairway and the back pad being green, this Biarritz is 220 yards, par 3, and is a beauty.

The beauty behind a Biarritz template is that you have to determine whether you want to run it through the swale or fly it over. Brilliantly designed, and a template built for the ages. A better view below of the green.

The fourth is the “Alps” template at 388 yards. I’m not sure why I didn’t get a photo of the tee shot (from my photos it seems I was too concerned with the Biarritz), but two bunkers on the right are in the driving zone.

The approach plays over two bunkers in the front like a typical Alps hole.

The fifth is the first par 5 on the golf course, playing a couple yards shy of 500 yards. Moving to the right, a couple bunkers await on the inside corner.

After rounding the corner, you’re met with a wonderful view of the rest of the hole. It’s a short par 5, so it’s certainly reachable in two. However, this is a “Road” template after the Road Hole at The Old Course. Being in the bunker left is not ideal.

A closer look at the road bunker:

The 6th is the first non-template hole, but a good hole nonetheless. 335 yards, it’s a short 4.

A big bunker guards the front on the approach. But as usual here, the green complex is quite severe and challenging. My absolute favorite part of Blue Mound is how attentive you have to be with the flatstick.

The 7th, a “short” template, features the “fingerprint” in the green. It’s as it sounds: the green literally looks like Seth Raynor took his fingerprint to the middle. At 167 yards, playing downhill, it plays true to its name.

It’s hard to get a good photograph of the fingerprint. Hopefully the photo above shows it off! I’ve been told this hole has been restored back to feature the moat bunker, so I’ll have to get back next time I’m in Wisconsin to see!

The 8th is a superb golf hole. A strong par 4 at 445 yards coming uphill out of the valley. Two bunkers intersect the fairway, but aren’t in play.

The sharply uphill approach plays to the punchbowl green. Everything funnels towards the middle. Even with the help, it’s a difficult shot.

You can see the view of the green as you approach.

And from behind, which shows the two spines in the middle portion of the green.

The 9th is another non-template hole, but is said to draw inspiration from Chicago Golf Club’s 1st hole. 375 yards, a bunker eating into the fairway on the right is the main defence on the tee ball.

The 9th was originally the 18th hole when Raynor built the course, but was changed some 40 years after. I’m not too sure why.

The approach plays to a big green that moves hard to the front and right.

The 10th, titled “Prize,” is actually a template from Lido Golf Club, which no longer exists in full on Long Island. 445 yards, this is another healthy par 4.

The 10th is perhaps the best green complex on the course, and at the very least, on the shortlist. Open in the front, there is so much movement here.

A closer look at the excellent green complex:

382 yards, the 11th is apparently a “Cape” template. I don’t see it; it’s a baby dogleg right.

To Raynor’s credit, the golfer who challenges the inside corner doesn’t have to deal with with the short left bunker on the approach as much as the golfer on the left.

The 12th is maybe my favorite hole on the golf course. 480 yards, “Hog’s Back” plays out of the bottom of the property to a wide, but undulated fairway.

As the title suggests, the fairway is sloped like a Hog’s Back. Anything off the middle of the fairway could potentially take the contouring and roll off the fairway. Difficult tee shot!

A look at the staircase bunkers on the left side, which do not come into play. However, they look excellent!

Given the nature of the hole, and how long it is for a par 4, the green is unobstructed on the front to allow for low, running shots.

Like the 1st, the 13th is a “Redan” template. However, this is the traditional iteration on a par 3. 185 yards, it’s not overly long, but definitely challenging.

For those who are unfamiliar with the template game, the Redan is by far the most copied hole. A green running from the front right to the back left, with a kicker slope short right and a bunker on the left side of the green is typically the holes main characteristics. A closer look at the kicker slope:

You can see just how aggressive the slope of the green here is below:

And from behind, which is just insanity!

The 14th is an epic tee shot out of the valley akin to the 12th. At 416 yards, it’s a mid length par 4 that has a tee ball best kept right.

The green perhaps features some of the best bunkering on the course, but the green is open on the righthand side.

The 15th is another mid length par 4 at 412 yards. “Pond” aptly plays over a pond.

The green does feature some good movement, and in particular is defined by the false-front, but I think this is likely the weakest hole here.

The 16th, a “Leven” template, is wonderfully simple, yet executed perfectly. The strategy is entirely dictated by the bunker short right of the green. Up the left off the tee of this 355 yard par 4 is the best play.

The short right bunker, as previously mentioned, is quite nasty. With modern technology, the “strategy” on this hole is almost null. With that being said, it’s still a wonderful golf hole.

The 17th is an Eden template. Styled after the 11th at The Old Course, typically, the Eden template holes feature a heavy tilt to the front, with the “Strath” bunker short right, the “Hill” bunker on the left, while a bunker over the back simulated the Eden River. At Blue Mound, a bunker wraps around the right side, while the Hill bunker awaits on the left.

It’s also worth noting that typically, a ridge divides the hole into two-thirds (left) and one-third (right) to make a very difficult right hand location.

A look at the ridge at the back of the green:

The 18th, titled “Long” originally draws inspiration from The Old Course’s 14th, although there’s no Hell Bunker here. Slightly doglegging to the left, a bunker cuts into the fairway about 305 yards off the tee.

At 560 yards, it’s not exactly “long” for todays standard, and likely reachable for the long hitters in two. However, for the majority of golfers, it’s a three shot hole up the hill. A bunker on the left is the main defence on the third shot.

The final approach plays to a big green with the beautiful clubhouse in the background.

So that’s Blue Mound. Certainly a wonderful golf course, I was happy to have played here and see some of Seth Raynor’s work in person. All the regular templates are here, minus a couple of ones you rarely see like Bottle and Lions Mouth.

Overall, Blue Mound is a very enjoyable golf course with an excellent set of greens. It’s a must play!

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