Unwinding on the Island: Deer Run Golf Course

For many visitors to Door County a vacation would not be complete without spending a bit of time on the golf course. As a personal challenge or a way to unwind, the game provides an exciting diversion while in the county. While there are many challenging and beautiful courses to be found, only one can claim its location to “be north of the tension line” as Trudy and Dan Schelitzche, owners and operators of Deer Run Golf Course on Washington Island, like to say. “We suggest that you leave all stress behind when you board the ferry, and come enjoy a relaxing day on Washington Island at Deer Run Golf Course and Resort.”

Deer Run, the only golf course on Washington Island, is a regulation nine-hole, par 36 course. “Up here you can really get away from it all and spend time enjoying the outdoors,” says Trudy. “The course is designed to take advantage of the natural beauty of the island and welcome golfers of all levels.” And golfers really can leave it all behind on the mainland – or at least leave their cars behind. The course provides a free shuttle service for its visitors to and from the ferry dock. This service is just as hassle-free as the rest of the experience. Golfers only need to call the clubhouse as they are either boarding the ferry or disembarking at the island and the shuttle will pick them up. Club rentals are available at Deer Run so visitors can travel light if they wish. With the course located just a few minutes’ stroll from the downtown area of the island, many golfers find that they really don’t miss their vehicles after all.

The Deer Run Golf Course has been in existence since 1970 and in 1997 Dan and Trudy took ownership. Since taking over the course, Dan and Trudy have given the entire operation an overhaul. They began with small changes and worked their way up to an entire course renovation in 1999. In 2004, members of the Wisconsin State Golf Association (WSGA) came to Deer Run to help Dan and Trudy with further course design renovation. Making the course more challenging for their advanced players, while not losing its appeal for entry-level golfers, was one of the Schelitzche’s main goals. The WSGA had many suggestions that were implemented. More pronounced doglegs were created and elevated tee boxes were installed on the course. The creation of a large pond on the first and ninth holes has created an attractive and exciting water hazard. Additional sand traps, two of which are in the shape of Detroit and Washington Islands, were added and the greens present a greater trial than in the past.  

The course itself reflects the beauty of the island that is its home. Ranging from open meadows that begin on the first hole to beautiful wooded stretches, golfers will enjoy the picturesque scenery as they play. Enjoying the scenery can also become part of the game, as overshooting on short hole number five can result in a hike in the woods looking for a lost ball. From the separate tee boxes on hole number six, golfers can choose whether or not to take advantage of the challenging dogleg, again highlighting the diverse aspects of a course designed with golfers of all skill level in mind.

Making Deer Run a destination for the whole family was important to the Schelitzches. While the nine-hole course is geared toward all levels of player, the addition of the 18-hole Adventure Island Miniature Golf course in 2006 has provided a spot for even the youngest player to come enjoy the game. “We have tried to make sure that everyone can find something to enjoy when visiting Deer Run,” says Trudy. It is a great place to have a family tournament or friendly competition. After an exciting round of “big” or “mini” golf enjoying a beverage at the clubhouse restaurant is the perfect opportunity to unwind.

The clubhouse Pub and Grill at the course serves lunch and snacks. One avid Door County golfer says, “Golfing at Deer Run is a lot of fun, but my favorite part of the experience is sitting out on the back deck after a round and enjoying a cheeseburger. They have one of the best cheeseburgers in the county.” Trudy laughed when she heard this and quipped, “Funny, I had always thought our chicken sandwich was the favorite!” The deck and clubhouse provide views of the course and a good place to relax while grabbing a bite before or after a game. A visit to the Pro Shop will ensure that you leave with a memento of your time at Deer Run.

For golfers who would like to stay overnight on Washington Island and take advantage of the early morning or twilight rates offered at the course, Deer Run has accommodations available. Deer Run Resort offers a charming small hotel located next to the clubhouse adjoining the course. Also available for rent are two historic, fully renovated lakefront houses for those who would like to enjoy the water as well as the golf course during their stay. During the months of July and August the houses are available weekly. Special golfing packages for hotel and lakefront house occupants are available.

Crossing Death’s Door (and somewhere in the middle of it, the “tension line”) to explore Washington Island is an adventure that is made even more fulfilling by a visit to Deer Run Golf Course and Resort. So leave all of your worries on the mainland and come relax, enjoy the outdoors, and an enchanting afternoon of sport and camaraderie while visiting Deer Run.

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