St. Germain discovers gold on those greens
Pristinely maintained, the St. Germain Golf Club is one of Wisconsin's finest courses
As a premier vacation destination in the Northwoods, St. Germain is a wonderland of recreational opportunities.
One of the most outstanding attractions is the St. Germain Golf Club, located on the town’s west side. But it was no easy decision for the town to invest in such an enterprise.
Looking to attract a popular recreational interest group and create town revenue, then town Chairwoman, Gayle Lorentz, and Town Supervisor Don Eliason presented the idea of building a town-owned golf course that would be open to the public.
The process to determine if the golf course would work in St. Germain began in the late 80s. A Town Development Committee was appointed to research the feasibility of a town-owned golf course. The chairwoman was Marilyn Cox, Secretary Connie Fetzer and other members were: Al Larsen, Lee and Hazel Christensen and Carole Nagel.
After four years of work, more than 300 meetings, and three failed votes at special town meetings, the golf course was approved in January 1992.
Eliason had high praise for the committee, “ who worked their tails off. They traveled all over the state to get the numbers.”
In 1993 the million-dollar first phase of the St. Germain Golf Club opened to the public, offering a beautifully landscaped 9-hole course designed by Gilmore Graves. During this development phase, two acres were set aside for construction of the clubhouse.
The town board set rigid standards for the project. “We wanted the best of the best,” recalled Eliason.
Tom Pawlacyk, of Neenah, was able to fill the bill. A breathtakingly beautiful restaurant and bar was opened to the public. In addition, a Pro Shop was leased by the Town and is located in the same building.
The Whitetail Inn was constructed by Jerry Wait of Frontier Builders, Inc., Land O’ Lakes. The massive structure was steeped in true Northwoods ambiance and was built of 200-year-old virgin White Pines. The Nicolet National Forest trees were harvested in Phelps and prepared in Land O’Lakes. Less than 5% of the available timber in the stand was harvested.
In October of 1993, Lorentz and Eliason proposed that the town sell the club to a private party, fearing that future town boards may not have the necessary interest in maintaining the golf course.
Amidst a highly contentious atmosphere, a special town meeting was held and the town voted to retain ownership of the golf course in a 189-92 vote.
“I am glad we were overruled,” Eliason commented in a recent interview.
In 1996, the second 9-hole course was opened, creating a spectacular 18-hole course. The course was designed for both social and the serious players, offering a challenging 6,651-yard course, from the back tees, bounded by unforgettable Northwoods vistas.
In an article written in November 2010, by John Ehle for “Golf Wisconsin.Com,” described the second phase of the golf course development.
“Brian Baldwin is the PGA Professional at St. Germain GC and he was on-site when the second 9 was added in 1996. According to Brian, the additional property was acquired from the Mosinee Paper Company either by trading for or purchasing the necessary acreage and this enabled the Town to expand the facility to 18 holes.
Don Stepanik, Jr., the designer of the "new nine" and the newly acquired acreage was situated in such a way as to dictate a combination of old and new. The "new" holes were 4 through 12 and they were built along the northern extremity of the property. The locals refer to holes # 4 through #7 as the "Amen Corner" of St. Germain GC and the designation is accurate. With lengths of 405, 373, 167 and 384, respectively, each hole offers challenges which force one to think through the strategy required to negotiate the trees and topography which has given incisors to this stretch of golf.”
Today, Aaron Becker serves as the Golf Course Superintendent. Throughout the years, the Club has continued to improve and expand, offering a driving range; a “snack shack”, Mulligans, between the front and back nines; pro-taught lessons for adults and children and hosting countless tournaments.
Taxpayers were promised that the course would never appear on the tax rolls. A promise made good with the final mortgage payment made this year.
And true to the original premise, the club has been a revenue producer for St. Germain. But it has contributed far more than just revenue for the town coffers. Its reputation as one of the most beautiful courses in the state, along with championship design, has established St. Germain as a golfing vacation destination.
For a look at what the St. Germain Golf Club offers today, visit their website. Better yet, throw your clubs in the trunk and head out to St. Germain at the intersection of Highway 70 and C and discover for yourself a true Northwoods treasure.
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