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John Reitman

By John Reitman

13-hole, short course concept is a hit in Wisconsin


The Lion's Paw at Pioneer Point. Photo via Facebook

Hawks Landing and Pioneer Pointe golf courses might be separated by just a few miles, but they are otherwise worlds apart in just about every way.

Designed by the late John Harbottle, Hawks Landing Golf Club in Verona, Wisconsin, has been attracting some of the most discerning golfers in the Madison area for more than 20 years. Conversely, Pioneer Pointe has been open only a year and is where many newcomers to the game learn to play.

Designed by Todd Quitno and Jerry Kelly, PGA Tour player and Madison native, Pioneer Pointe is a 13-hole short course with holes ranging from about 100 to 300 yards in length with multiple teeing options that open a world of playing possibilities.

neil_radatz_200.jpg"There are no tee markers at Pioneer Pointe. You just play where you want, and there are a lot of different angles. You choose your own path," said Neil Radatz, superintendent at both courses.

"The traditional member at Hawks Landing likes the structure that course offers. People playing at Pioneer Pointe really are embracing this concept. The No. 1 thing I hear is how much fun people are having when they play there."

Radatz has been at Hawks Landing from the beginning when bulldozers began moving dirt 22 years ago. He also is the construction and grow-in superintendent at Pioneer Pointe. Admittedly, he was a bit skeptical of the plan to build a 13-hole short course that golfers could play in 2 hours. Now that he has seen the finished product and the way it has been embraced, he is a believer.

There are no tee markers at Pioneer Pointe. You just play where you want, and there are a lot of different angles. You choose your own path.

"I was a little hesitant," he said. "I'm excited about what I see happening now."

Pioneer Pointe was inspired by some of the great holes in golf, including No. 7 at Riviera Country Club, the Road Hole at St. Andrews and several by Seth Raynor, including a Redan (No. 3), Lion's Mouth (6), Biarritz (7) and Thumb Print (8). 

"The Madison market is strong with a lot of great golf courses. Our goal was to have some of the best par 3 holes that you could pick from any great golf course and make them playable for the average person," Radatz said. "I think we hit it out of the park with that."

The clientele at Pioneer Pointe is a mix of newcomers to the game and those looking to get in a quick round. Walking rates range from $20 for juniors to $29 for everyone else. That's a lot of golf for a little amount of money, and that has been attractive for golfers of all levels.

"You can play in about two hours and 15 minutes," Radatz said. "We are seeing a lot of play in the late afternoon, including guys getting off work who can get out and have a good time.

"We wanted to go with no rough at all. From the tee to around the green, grass is cut at the same height, so there is not a lot of maintenance involved, but we still have features around the green that make people say 'wow, this is cool.' We didn't make it too difficult. And we thought it would be a hit when people found out there would be no tee markers, no rough. It is really starting to take off."

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