Last month I shared with you how, in addition to taking golf lessons and staying physically fit, I have also been trying to improve the mental side of my game over the last few months.

I’ve been working with my friend Dr. Matt Krug, a performance and counseling psychologist who works primarily with athletes and high level executives, to learn more about North of Your Neck, his new program designed specifically to help golfers. I went through his process by taking an online assessment and received an individualized analysis. Then, after several great discussions with Dr. Krug, it was time to take what I had learned to the course for a mental playing lesson. 

And, while I learned a lot more about routine and focus during our time together, the best lesson I got that day was a history lesson.

Dr. Krug and I spent the afternoon at Eagle Springs Golf Resort, the oldest course in Wisconsin and Golf Magazine’s 23rd Best Nine Hole Course in the World (2020). It’s also the one that he and his wife Anne recently acquired.

Eagle Springs dates back to 1893 when a resort, including a hotel and 12 support buildings, along with an 18-hole course, was built on the property by William Tuohy, son of the Irish immigrants who originally settled there to start a farm in 1866. 

In 1921, the hotel was closed and razed; and in 1929 the course was reduced to just 9 holes after fallout from the Great Depression. 

However, through those ups and downs and iterations of the property, the course has remained both intact and in the family. The Krugs are now the sixth generation owners of the facility and caretakers of its somewhat quirky but charming legacy.

Nine of the hotel’s original suport buildings remain; they were turned into cottages  and have been seasonally rented by the same families for over 50 years. Anne’s family is one of them. 

“I grew up here,” said Anne. “The cottage on nine, which used to be the old ice house for the hotel, has been in my mom’s family for 50 years.”

The old hotel’s laundry building is currently the Clubhouse for the golf course and the floors are slanted to prove it. The tables and bartop are original to the hotel. The course’s first two holes, including the famed “Volcano Hole,” were said to have been designed by A.G. Spaulding, a former pitcher and manager of the Chicago Cubs and co-founder of the sporting goods company. And at one point, there was a living tree growing up through the middle of the clubhouse. While the tree is no longer alive, it’s trunk remains and just adds to the lore.

So how did Anne go from hitting golf balls on only her favorite holes (7, 8, and 9) and sledding down the hills on the holes of the course over the winter to owning the property?

Fifth generation owner Mike Bolan wanted to retire and had offers to subdivide the property, including one from the nature conservancy, but he wasn’t interested. He wanted to keep it in the family and Anne, his niece by marriage, or “an in-law to the course,” as she says, was the closest one who was up for the task. 

Anne admits she, too, was hesitant at first. Although she has managerial experience from a previous job, she had taken time off to raise her children when Mike approached her. However, when she considered it more, she knew taking on this challenge was the right thing to do.

“We’re preserving something that means a lot to a lot of people,” she said. 

And thus, in a move reminiscent to the plot of We Bought a Zoo, over the past year the Krugs began to get a crash course in course ownership and Anne began learning about things she never thought she’d have to know, like turf management.  

The couple officially took ownership of the property in February and, as they work on getting up to speed, they do not have any major changes planned for the course, which, by the way, is not your typical par-3 9-hole course, but rather a 2800-yard trek that is both a good place for juniors to learn and challenging enough for mom and dad. 

However, they are focused on bringing more events out to the property.

“We’ve got a great space with our pavilion and we want to do more, like host live music. As much as we’re a golf course, we’re a place of gathering.  There is this community here and want to do more with that,” said Dr. Krug.

“Aside from that, our main goal is to really honor the legacy of golf in the state of Wisconsin and Mike’s family. Eagle Springs has been a hidden gem for so long, we want more people to experience it.”

Caitlin Moyer

Caitlin Moyer has been hacking and hoping since she was 10. Over the course of her career in the sports industry, she's had the chance to play the game with LPGA, MLB and NBA players, as well as NASCAR drivers and celebrities, but her favorite playing partner is her dad (even though he is a stick). Inventor and sole practitioner of the one-flap™ golf swing (patent pending).