The Season: 1997-1998; The Event: Super Bowl XXXII; The Teams: Denver Broncos vs. Green Bay Packers; The Score: Broncos 31 – Packers 24; The Result: Broncos Super Bowl Champions. I need to have something to brag about since the Packers have 13 championships to the Broncos 2. Now to the matters at hand (if the Packer fans are still with me) – The 9-hole Iroquois Course at Thornberry Creek at Oneida.
The reason for all the football talk? Thornberry Creek at Oneida is the Official Golf Course of the Green Bay Packers. I thought this was pretty cool, so we had to check it out. We were rewarded with a beautiful day and an outstanding course. Hole #1 is a short par 4, 288 yards from the white tees (about all this aging body can handle these days). It is straight but you will not find a level surface on this fairway. As you approach each green(s), you will find both a white flag and red flag. I played the “white nine” which is a little shorter and I believe the pin placement was easier. For the lower handicap golfer, play the “red nine” for more of a challenge or play both to comprise an 18-hole round.
Hole #2 is a beautiful par 5 that sets up nicely for my left to right ball flight to the fairway below. I forgot to use my fade and found the rough on the left. The red flag will definitely play harder on this hole. The par 4 third hole has a generous landing area if you fade it right (I did this time). There is tree trouble left and the green is long and narrow. The white flag was in front and the red flag was tucked way back on this green – good luck with that pin placement!
Senior moment at Hole #4 as I was about to strike my ball over the large pond at this par 3. My driver, caddie and wife informed me that I was aiming at the red flag. I never even saw the white flag to the right. I must have been too focused on this large body of water looming in front of me. The green on the left (red flag) is long and narrow; the green on the right (white flag) is large and undulating – neither is a fun trip!
Hole #5 – The Eel. I don’t know if there are eels in the water or if the name refers to the shape of the water that traverses the entire length of the fairway but either way it is an outstanding hole. The maintenance crew was working on the green and both flags were pulled. I just hit and prayed I was heading in the correct direction. This hole has two greens separated by a bunker in between. I guessed correctly by landing on the right green to secure my par. Hole #6 is a relatively easy par 3 for the white flag. Of course it took me four shots to finally land on the putting surface. Luckily I don’t throw clubs or I would have needed help retrieving it from the pond (and Karen did not bring her swimsuit). Speaking of the pond, if I was playing the red flags, I would have been down three balls.
Let’s quickly move to Hole #7 and a few positive swing thoughts. Large trees frame this straight and narrow 324 yard par 4. The “L” shaped green invites disaster for the back red flag pin placement. My positive swing thoughts brought me a well-deserved par after the issues at #6. This was also the first time I saw a marker for the Level 1 Family Tee – great idea. The eighth hole is long, straight, and the #1 handicap. The fairway is wide but you have to reach it by avoiding the big trees to the left. It is a good thing trees are 90% air as somehow I made it through them to find the landing area. Just aim for the large Hobart water tower to find the green at this lengthy par 5. The final hole at #9 is a secluded par 3 that is entirely engulfed by trees. A picturesque hole that is gorgeous as the leaves begin to change.
Ace: Karen loved this course – not much more to say – but I will. The off-season rate was $23 for 9 holes that includes the cart and range balls. If you happen to play on a day of a Packers game, the fee is reduced to $17 (you can probably guess the reason). She also said it had the feel of a $200 course (and Karen knows her golf courses). The carts are adorned with the Packer logo and the cart paths are constructed of brick – all first class.
The staff was excellent and my thanks to Mark, the Director of Golf, and Andrew who took the time to discuss this 27-hole facility. During the spring season you may run into a Packer player on the 18-hole Legends Course or in the awesome clubhouse restaurant. My suggestion for lunch is the Legend Burger – a combination of beef, bacon, and bratwurst. Since our round was so quick, we now had additional time to explore Green Bay – what else is there to do and see? That’s what we enjoy about playing 9 holes, it gives us the opportunities to see other sights like say…Lambeau Field. It was a pleasure visiting the Official Home of the Green Bay Packers and touring the field, the Packer Hall of Fame and finishing our visit by eating again at the 1919 Kitchen & Tap. As Bronco fans we were treated with the utmost respect but if you are a Bears fan…
Looking for a place to stay? Look no further than the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center which just happens to be the Official Hotel of the Green Bay Packers. Since you have Karen’s endorsement as one of her all-time favorite course, there is not much more for me to add except – Go Broncos!
Update 2016: The Broncos now have 3 Super Bowl rings!
4470 North Pine Tree Road, Oneida, WI 54155; 920-434-7501; www.golfthornberry.com