Whistling Straits

The things a Traveling Golfer, this one in particular, will do to play a bucket list golf course!

“If you are leaving Branson we are only 10 hours away and it is kind of on your way home, and it is the weekend!”  Sort of on my way home I guess??  Branson, Kohler, Wisconsin not exactly a straight line to Toronto! “Besides tee time isn’t until Sunday afternoon.” It was the logic which kind of made sense when Bryan Stevens, Golf Sales Executive of Destination Kohler was inviting me up to play Whistling Straits with a mutual business associate of ours!

Jason Kauflin, the Traveling Golfer and Brian Weis

Nope, I was not going to pass this up!  I contacted my good friend Brian Weis who lived about an hour from Whistling Straits, bunked with his family at his new beautiful home on a maybe semi-private lake if we are using golfer’s terms!  I arranged for Brian to play with us and before we knew it another one off the bucket list!  Best 10 hour distraction ever and best of all it was only 10 hours to get back to Toronto from Kohler Wisconsin!

I will go out on a limb (I know I do that often) and say if more folks from Ontario knew that the State of Wisconsin, with 10 of the top 100 public courses in America, was only 10 hours away, more would make that jaunt.  Now you know!  Now that you are thinking about it here is the guy to call that can make all of Wisconsin happen for you…Jason Kauflin of Wisconsin Golf Trips who just so happened to be who we played with at Whistling Straits!

Brian and I arrived way ahead of our tee time and were going to make the most of this.  We had lunch in the clubhouse, hit balls, chipped and putted and took a few pics before we embarked on our walk around the Straits.

Why should it be on your bucket list?  How many courses have you played that have hosted a Ryder Cup (which it will in 2020)?  Whistling Straits has hosted the 2004 PGA Championship, 2007 U.S. Senior Open, 2010 PGA Championship and who will forget the Dustin Johnson bunker saga of the 2015 PGA where all of the over 1,000 bunkers were deemed to be just that bunkers!

Great views of Lake Michigan

I’m not sure anyone really knows how many tons of dirt were really moved around in the three years that it took Pete Dye to complete the mountainous masterpiece out of a flat piece of land along the Lake Michigan shoreline.  Did he steal some ideas from other shorelines perhaps in Scotland, Ireland or even England? Does it matter?

The Straits Course which opened in 1998, can be described as open, rugged and windswept links style course as it lies along a two mile stretch of Lake Michigan.  Luckily for us the wind was down on our most gorgeous of days.  As our caddy said, “There are only a handful of days like this in a season.”  There are over a 1,000 bunkers but if you can play at all there is a good chance that you may not even get into one.  Fairways are plenty wide so keep your head about you off the tee and leave the focus part to your approach shots.

This is a players course no doubt, a number of holes that favor a draw and some looking for you to fade the ball!  Eight holes play along the mesmerising shoreline.   The collection of par 3’s are as tantalizing as you will find and the setting along with the bunkering only enhances the challenge!

Once done our round we were in no hurry to leave.  At least not Jason and his wife Cindy and I who were spending the night.  So it was off the quaint pub upstairs in the clubhouse to have a cold one, but you know it’s never just one so two it was.

Jason, having been there a few times suggested that we grab some dinner at one of the American Club pubs the Horse & Plow, which was conveniently located minutes from the Inn on Woodlake, where we were staying, all part of the Destination Kohler family

Sunday evening and the place was packed full of golfers.  Not surprising with the many courses that are part of the immediate Kohler family all close by.  Next to the Straits Course and inland a bit is The Irish Course, another masterpiece crafted by Dye, featuring grassland and dissected by four meandering streams in a tranquil landscape.

Blackwolf Run Meadow Valleys Golf Course – Hole 14

The folks at Kohler have been keeping Mr. Dye for years.  In 1988 the nearby Blackwolf Run opened up and was immediately named “Best New Public Course” in the country by Golf Digest.  There are two courses at Blackwolf – The River and The Meadows Valley which have hosted a number of professional championships including the U.S. Women’s Open and Andersen Consulting World Golf Championships.

The Horse & Plow has that Irish Pub feel to it, a great place to kick back and share your round with your friends.  Once the taproom for the migrant workers, Horse & Plow has a casual atmosphere with plenty of TV’s for the sports minded.   A casual menu offering such classics as brats, fish and chips, world famous fried cheese curds (a Wisconsin tradition) and a nice selection of microbrews.   For me the evening had a martini feel to it!  Such a great day, the evening needs to start off with a martini and a couple of wines to close off not only the night but a couple of spectacular weeks of golf!

Should you be keen to get to Kohler all you need to do is visit www.americanclubresort.com  I am sure that the fall with the leaves changing would make a spectacular setting for golf and my friend Bryan would be more than happy to take care of you.

Should a golf experience that includes Kohler and more of Wisconsin you should check out www.wisconsingolftrips.com. Jason will take great care of you!