Golf Course Overview: Royal St. Patrick's Golf Links
Insights From An Insider With Nick Stephens, Owner and Head Golf Professional
By Brian Weis
Local and traveling golfers love to research course before playing, whether it is to gain some local knowledge or to set the expectation for their experience. Below is an interview with Nick Stephens who shares some valuable insight about the property, its most talked about holes and the signature dish/drink to consume at the 19th hole.
How Does Your Course Differ From The Others In The Area?
Clearly our #1 distinction from all other courses in the area is our Links-style. While some courses are busy planting trees, we are taking them down to match our very unique style. Deep pot bunkers, bump and run chipping options, varying wind directions, golden fescue grass areas bordering the holes, make Royal St. Patrick's an interesting challenge. We are considered the best conditioned public course in the area. We have a number of special characteristics. Our tees are a prototype grass that had never been used anywhere else in WI. They are extremely tight and people have even commented they would not be bad to putt on. Our fairways could be the most generous in WI. Bob Vavrek, a USGA agronomist says that a typical WI golf course has 25 acres of fairway, we have 45 acres. Yes, its expensive to maintain, but it affords our players many playing angles and forgiveness when the wind blows. We have 87 bunkers, that's a lot on WI. Some of them deep with sod wall abrupt faces. Best to avoid these, but they certainly propose creativity if you find them. Lastly the greens. We are one of the only courses who has a pure sand green substructure. I believe Horseshoe Bay being the other. Anytime it rains, the water just wicks right through them. We are ready to play again in minutes.
For someone who has not played the course in awhile, has there been any new changes/rennovations to the course or property?
Changes, there has been tons. We rebuilt, enlarged and re-shaped bunkers on #3, #4, #6, #9, #14 and #16. We put new sand in at least 15 of the bunkers. We took down all trees behind the 9th and 18 greens to open up vistas of the links and then trucked in a ton of dirt to create dune like mounding behind #18. We are currently 1/2 of the way in on a fescue purification project which will make those areas more playable and more conducive to finding your ball. Took down huge amount of scrub and debris from inside dog leg corner of #17, truly restoring the risk / reward of the hole. Built a 7 Hole Family course that will debut in the Spring of 2015. Added a Teaching Academy with a full time Teaching Professional who has a Flightscope and an indoor studio for winter. Repainted the entire inside of clubhouse and redecorated. Improved both inside and outside sound systems. New carpet in Golf Shop. Expanded Crosswind menu. We have new golf carts for the 2015 season. We have also made tons of improvements to the inner workings of golf course mechanicals and such, but these are things guests would find boring or mundane, but they are pretty important to me!
What is your course's answer to Amen Corner? (Describe your best/hardest 3 back/back/back holes)
I guess I would call our Amen Corner 16, 17, 18. Sixteen, a 420 yard par 4, is just a scary tee shot. Water all down the right, OB down the left. The wind is generally a little down and off the right. The fairway, though generous, appears pretty skinny given the teeing angle. It's not uncommon to come here with a great round going and literally choke trying to get the ball in play. If you can get tee ball in play, approach shot is not that stressful. Now that you have made double on 16, you can make eagle on the par 5 17th. A sharp dogleg left, the closer you flirt with the left side, the shorter your second shot to the green. This shot is not without peril, but the reward is generally hitting the green or having a very easy pitch to make birdie. Now that the risk / reward design has been returned to this hole, it's a great way to finish the round. Number 18 is a lot like #16 in angles and terror. Water again all down the right, and a massive deep sod-wall bunker named Wallace's Arse right in the middle of fairway. If you can find the fairway, the second shot can also be tough. The green is surrounded by bunkers and mounds and the clubhouse forms the impressive backdrop. It's not uncommon to be heckled by the people on the veranda, but they will also cheer a great shot!
What is your course's claim to fame, or is there a little known fact that golfers should know about the property?
I'm not sure I have a claim to fame. This might be a better question for the golfers. I know there are so many people who each want something different out of their golf experience. I am trying to please all of them, but it's hard. I've essentially built an experience that many different kinds of people would like. I am set up for the serious and highly competitive. I am set up for the beer drinker. I am set-up to entertain clients, I am set up for families. I just want people to have a good time. Does it have to be 5-star, no. People don't come to my place to receive 5 star, they come because its comfortable.
What tournaments/events have you (recently) hosted or will be hosting?
In addition to the outings we do, Royal St. Patrick's has 6 signature events that we host each summer. The first is the Duffers Derby 4 Person Scramble, this is a Kentucky Derby themed event and it's always a sellout. That leads into the Auld Grey Toon. This is a summer long 2 man Best-Ball tournament where you schedule your own matches. Again, lots of fun, a great trophy and a great payday at the end. This one is built a little more for the competitive golfer. Battle Royal, is a 2 man Scramble event designed exclusively for our league players. King's Cask is our Club Championship. Contested in late summer, you must be invited by the Pro, then make it through qualifying to compete in the match play bracket. The Hack'n Pack is our Packer themed 4 person scramble in the Fall. Always a sellout, I have certain access to some Packer privileges that no one else has. People are always interested what I will do next. The final event is the Bass Ackwards. To me, the event that sets us apart from everyone. We play the course backwards and it is awesome. Sure, other guys try this, but when you don't have trees, its not goofy golf, its pure!
Besides golf, what other amenities do you offer if a golfer wants to spend most of the day at your facility?
The Crosswind restaurant is outstanding. Great food at normal prices. Our clubhouse has 76 windows, not bad for having lunch or dinner and viewing the course. We also have a really nice veranda dining deck, and in summer, there is no better place. If you are the practice type, I will put our practice range up against anyone. We have a tee on either end of range, one being bent grass, one being blue grass. New balls every year. Four target greens, bunkers surrounding them. We have fairways moved into the range for pinpoint practice. We have a chipping green with a practice bunker. You can actually spin around in this bunker and hit fairway bunker shots out into the range. We have a large secluded putting green, that no one utilizes, so it's a great place for peace and quiet. We have a teaching pro and his building located on range, and the range becomes a Family Course every Sunday afternoon.
Signature sandwich or drink?
As much as I would like to say we have one of these, we just don't. I've been telling Chef Bob we should try and get something going, but our problem is...people like trying everything on the menu because it's all really good. I guess that's a good thing!
Royal St. Patrick's Golf Links
201 Royal St. Pat's Dr
Wrightstown, Wisconsin, 54180
Revised: 02/02/2015 - Article Viewed 20,412 Times - View Golf Course Profile
Written By: Brian Weis
Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.
All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.
On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.
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