By Duane Duchesne
Photos by Lisa Duchesne
JANESVILLE – That being said, when summer arrives (especially July and August) the temperatures and the humidity can make you feel like you’re chasing your golf ball through a gigantic sauna. You even start wishing that you could be the guy who is putting on the green where the sprinklers are on.
Well, if you’re looking for a way to beat the heat for a few days you might like to do what my wife and I did just a few weeks ago and head a couple of hundred miles North for a golf get-away in Janesville, Wisconsin. It was one of the most fun and relaxing vacations that we’ve ever had.
Of course, lodging is an important consideration. And, while there are plenty of places with nationally recognized names to choose from out by the major highways, if you’re wanting to get away from the traffic and enjoy a slower tempo, I suggest that you go downtown to Cobblestone Hotel and Suites. While the accommodations are both excellent and reasonably priced and the staff is extremely helpful, the biggest draw is that it’s right on the Riverwalk. From there you can take a stroll along the river and enjoy all of the very artistic murals painted on some of the buildings.
But, on to the purpose of this ‘Beat the Heat’ getaway- GOLF! You see, the reason that Janesville is such a great summer escape for the avid golfer is that this town of just 64,000 people has, within an hour drive, 25 (yes, I said 25) public golf courses.
We started our golf-getaway at the Glen Erin Golf Club out by the airport. Since our tee time was in the early afternoon, we did lunch at The Cursing Stone Pub located in the clubhouse. Tom (the manager of the pub) was a little anxious when he found out that we were from the Kansas City area and ordered their bar-b-que pulled pork sandwich. But he didn’t need to be; it was wonderful and came with great homemade chips.
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As the name of the course would suggest, Glen Erin is an Irish Links style course. To continue that theme, they even have an Irish name for each hole and the short flags that you find on such a course. At 6,849 yards from the back tees, it might seem a little testy but they have four sets of tees which lets you play according to your own skill level. But, regardless of where you tee it up, when you get to the green, you’d better have your putter under control because the greens are large and challenging and have 3 tiers. It was both fun and sometimes frustrating.
After our round we headed to Cobblestone, got freshened up, and ate dinner at the Wissota Chophouse located just off of the lobby of the hotel. The steak was excellent and the sides were both unique and tasty. As I said earlier, being by the Riverwalk can be a very relaxing experience. After we finished our meal, we took a leisurely stroll over to the Marvin A. Roth Community Pavilion at Courthouse Park. Every Tuesday evening during the summer they have a live outdoor concert. We enjoyed the Mark Croft Band; a very talented local band with an excellent cajon-bayou sound.
The next day, because the weather was so wonderful, we again set our tee time for the early afternoon. So, before lunch, we took a tour of The Lincoln-Tallman House Museum. (Shown on cover) I know that some people don’t like history because there’s no future in it, but this tour was extremely well done by people who both knew their stuff and could pique your interest with it. After the tour we had lunch a couple of blocks from the hotel at The Drafthouse. Of course, Wisconsin is known for their pub burgers and cheese curds and this place took it seriously. The burgers were fantastic and the cheese curds were hand-cubed, battered, and fried after you ordered. Don’t miss it!
We then headed North about 15 miles to Oak Ridge Golf Course in Milton, Wisconsin. At 5,949 yards it was somewhat shorter than Glen Erin but there was still plenty of challenge. They had smaller mounded greens to go with the shorter distance which meant that your shots to the green had to be right on target.
After our round we headed to Frederick’s Supper Club (also in Milton). It was a wonderful dining experience in a very quaint downtown area. The food was excellent and the service was even better. Not only did the manager personally go around to the tables to make sure things were perfect, the owner was also going from table to table chatting with the diners. And, when they found out that we were celebrating our wedding anniversary (42 years), they brought us some of their cheesecake as a gift.
The next day, before heading to Edgerton for lunch and golf, we went to the Janesville Rotary Botanical Gardens. If you’re looking for a peaceful, relaxing leisurely activity this is it. (Right now, as I’m thinking about it and writing about it weeks later, the anxiety of this article’s deadline is melting away.)
When we finished our stroll, we took off on our 15-mile drive to Edgerton. Before we went to the golf course we stopped and ate lunch at Two Brothers Pub; a very relaxing and friendly establishment located in the quaint little downtown area of, this time, Edgerton. And, as you’ve probably guessed, the meal was (wait for it) excellent. (Maybe someone ought to check all of the little towns around Janesville to see if they all have a friendly pub with good food in a quaint downtown.)
After being stuffed to the gills with cheese curds and homemade fries we headed to Coachman’s Golf Resort (also in Edgerton). Now, when you first drive up, the view is somewhat misleading; the lodge, clubhouse, and restaurant have a rough dark barnwood look reminiscent of something you might see on Route 66. But press ahead because you’re about to be amazingly surprised. As we entered the clubhouse, we saw a facility designed, equipped, and stocked for the golfer of today.
After getting our cart we were sent to the starter. Now, the yardage for your 18 holes is a little tricky to nail down because there are 3 separate 9-hole layouts (Red, White, and Blue) and you don’t know which 2 you’re going to play until the starter tells you. You see, as you finish your 1st nine, he tells you which nine to continue on to. For instance, we started with the Blue course and, when we made the turn, we were sent to the Red course. We didn’t play the White course but, if it’s anything like the Blue or Red course, it would have been a blast.
And then, after our delightful round of golf, we went over to the restaurant. And again, the interior is nothing like what you’d be expecting from the outside. The sparkle coupled with the warmth makes you feel immediately at home. The menu was filled with an abundance of options some of which they are probably well known for. Both my wife and I were in the mood for something aquatic so she chose the crusted walleye and I opted for the grilled salmon. Neither of us was in the least disappointed. In fact, as I write this I want to go back right now.
While we only had the time to play three of the 25 golf courses in the Janesville area, with 22 golf course still to play, I now have an itch that needs to be scratched.