Whistling Straits golf course at American Club Resort in Kohler

The Whistling Straits golf course at the American Club Resort and Spa in Kohler was ranked second in Golf Digest's ranking of America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses in 2013. Photo courtesy American Club Resort and Spa

5 golf and spa getaways in Wisconsin

These Wisconsin destinations offer high-quality golf and a range of spa services

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For most of us, a golfer’s massage is an often-self-administered arm-rub to erase the dimples left by your opponent’s duck-hooked 5-iron shot. We ignore the pain, rub dirt on the bruise and move on to the next shot – after, of course, doubling the bet. But there is an actual massage designed specifically for golfers – one that works out those muscles in the back, neck and hips that are engaged during the golf swing. And, if personal experience counts, it’s a wonderful treat, even if it doesn’t automatically improve your game.

Not every golfer wants his or her pars pampered or hot wraps after hot rounds, but for those who do, a number of Wisconsin resorts offer packages that include high-quality golf along with a full range of spa services. These places are great for players who want more than golf during their getaway, or for couples whose common ground does not extend to the first tee.

American Club Resort and Spa, Kohler
800.344.2838, destinationkohler.com
Leave it to the manufacturer of quality bathroom fixtures to develop a world-class spa: Kohler Waters Spa won a 2009 Reader’s Choice Award in Travel & Leisure’s hotel spa rankings. And when that same resort also offers four golf courses, including the Pete Dye-designed wonder, Whistling Straits – consistently ranked among the country’s top five courses and 2010 PGA Championship host – you get golf and spa opportunities to, well, Dye for. The spa specializes in hydrotherapy treatments in its four signature rooms, including the RiverBath for Two, which features a champagne-like bubble massage. Splurge for the three-night Golf Academy for Women to get nine hours of golf instruction, yoga classes, 18 holes of golf at Blackwolf Run, spa service discounts and lunches.

Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, Lake Geneva
800.558.3417, grandgeneva.com
Ranked among the top five golf resorts nationwide by Condé Nast Traveler, this spot is known for its denizen, The Brute, an 18-hole course brandishing 68 bunkers over 7,000 yards of rolling greens. A tussle with this or the other 18-hole course, The Highlands – originally designed by Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye – definitely calls for a little post-round pampering at the luxurious and eco-friendly resort, which has earned certification from the Travel Green Wisconsin program in addition to its Four Diamond rating from AAA.

The resort offers a range of activities including horseback riding, crafts, a fitness center and more. Fully unwind at the resort’s recently renovated WELL Spa. The various golf/spa packages are popular among the ladies, but there are also Hot Dates specials, and it’s not uncommon to see guys-only golf groups show up for spa services at some point during their stay, says Dave Hallenbeck, director of golf.

Heidel House Resort & Spa, Green Lake
800.444.2812, heidelhouse.com
With 99 holes within a 10-minute drive, Heidel House can’t be beat for variety. Since its opening in 1945, the resort has been a popular retreat for vacationers looking to play or fish on Green Lake, Wisconsin’s deepest natural inland body of water. But most visitors come for the golf. The Heidel House Stay and Play packages offer spa discounts and time at the Golf Courses of Lawsonia, one of America’s best and most affordable public golf courses, according to Golf Digest. Lawsonia’s Links course is at the top of most Wisconsin golf challenges, and its Woodlands course is a worthy challenge in its own right. The Excursion Package includes Tuscumbia Golf Course, one of the state’s oldest, and nearby Mascoutin Golf Course. In 2006, Heidel House became a coveted spa destination as well, with the opening of its Evensong Spa.

House on the Rock Resort, Spring Green
608.935.3639, thehouseontherock.com
Just seven miles northeast of the well-known attraction of the same name, the beautiful Iowa-County, Wyoming-Valley region provides a picturesque backdrop to this resort and 27 holes of unforgettable golf. The Springs Course was designed by the world-famous architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., while the North Nine is the creation of Wisconsin’s own Andy North and partner Roger Packard. The resort’s spa features a range of services from a golfer’s massage to mud therapy body treatments; golf/spa packages are available seasonally. Other popular area attractions include the American Players Theatre, Tower Hill State Park, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home and studio at Taliesin.

Sundara Inn & Spa, Wisconsin Dells
888.735.8181, sundaraspa.com or wildrockgolf.com
This multi-award-winning inn and spa on a secluded 26-acre site includes 26 guest suites and 12 villas overlooking the highly rated Wild Rock Golf Club, named one of America’s top five new courses by Golf Digest in 2009. All inn guests have unlimited access to the spa’s signature Purifying Bath Ritual, heated outdoor infinity pool, fitness room and buffet breakfast. Golf and spa packages change seasonally but include the Natural Twosome, which offers one night’s lodging, golf for two and a spa credit (golfer’s massage recommended, naturally) to be shared. Other packages offer golf for one and spa time for a non-golfing guest.

A former newspaperman, Dennis McCann is an avid golfer and longtime columnist for Wisconsin Golfer magazine. This article appeared in the March/April 2011 issue of Wisconsin Trails.

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