Whistling Straits Fact Sheet
“I should say this with some degree of modesty. But in my lifetime, I’ve never seen anything like this. Anyplace. Period.”
Pete Dye, World Golf Hall of Fame Designer
Blackwolf Run® and Whistling Straits
A throwback to the raw freshness of Ireland sculpted into the Wisconsin coastline Whistling Straits is part of Destination Kohler in Kohler, Wisconsin. Located off the shore of Lake Michigan, Whistling Straits is comprised of two, 18-hole championship golf courses that continue to challenge the best professional and amateur golfers around the world. Arguably the best golf experience in America, these Pete Dye-designed courses continue to be ranked at the top of the list of “America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses” by Golf Digest.
CHAMPIONSHIPS – PAST & FUTURE EVENTS
2020 Ryder Cup will be hosted on The Straits® at Whistling Straits.
2015 PGA Championship was hosted on The Straits. This was the third time the PGA Championship was hosted on The Straits and the championship didn’t disappoint. On Sunday afternoon two of the world’s best, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth, battled for the Wannamaker Trophy. Day fired an impressive final round 67 to beat Spieth by 3 shots and capture the 2015 PGA Championship title, his first major championship.
The 2010 PGA Championship was hosted on The Straits. This was the second time the PGA Championship was hosted on The Straits, and for the second time on this riveting and unforgiving course, the winner had to be determined by a playoff. With the sun setting quickly and a nerve-wracking three-hole playoff between Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson, it was Kaymer who pulled through for the win. Kaymer celebrated his first major championship win at Whistling Straits.
At the 2007 U.S. Senior Open, Brad Bryant became the 28th United States Senior Open Champion in exciting fashion, overtaking third-round leader Tom Watson with a birdie on the 16th hole. Bryant finished 6 under par for the tournament and won by three strokes over Ben Crenshaw. It was the second-biggest comeback in Senior Open history and capped off a thrilling championship week, as nearly 125,000 golf enthusiasts celebrated our country’s independence and watched the legends of golf test themselves on The Straits.
The Irish at Whistling Straits hosted the 2005 Palmer Cup, an annual Ryder Cup-style competition where top U.S. collegiate players tee off against their European counterparts. The American team reclaimed the Palmer Cup after winning the first six individual matches on the final day of play.
The Straits at Whistling Straits hosted the 2004 PGA Championship, one of golf’s four majors. The course had been open only two seasons when the announcement was made in January 2000. “Whistling Straits will provide the perfect test for the world’s best golfers,” said PGA President Will Mann. “It already has proven itself worthy of a major championship and will be held in esteem for generations to come.” The PGA Championship is considered one of the toughest in all of golf to win and features the strongest field in major championship golf. After 72 holes of play, three players were tied for the lead — forcing a three-hole playoff, where Vijay Singh came out victorious, winning his second PGA Championship.
The PGA of America selected The Straits at Whistling Straits as the site of the 1999 Club Professional Championship, making the announcement three months prior to the course debut. The national title championship was conducted on The Straits June 24-27, 1999, within one year after the course’s public opening. It was won by Jeff Freeman, a 37-year-old assistant professional at Tamarisk Country Club (Rancho Mirage, California). More than 18,000 spectators attended the event – an unprecedented and record-setting gallery in the history of the Club Professional Championship.
The course was named by Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., Executive Chairman of Kohler Co., who was inspired while walking the land during early construction of the golf course. As he tells the story, the name came to mind quite naturally as it was a particularly blustery day, a north-to-south gale was whistling along the bluffs, and white caps were breaking on the rocky shoreline – the straits – of Lake Michigan.
Overview: Whistling Straits® is a public, daily-fee golf facility with golf memberships available through the private club, Riverbend. It is a component of Destination Kohler centered in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Designer: Pete Dye designed both courses at Whistling Straits, as well as both courses at Blackwolf Run®.
Size of the site: 560 acres
Configuration: Whistling Straits is comprised of two 18-hole courses: The Straits® and The Irish.
Opening dates: The Straits – July 1998 The Irish – July 2000
History of the site: In the 1950s, for approximately 9 years, the site had been used by the U.S. Army as an antiaircraft training facility called Camp Haven. Previously it was pancake-flat farmland.
Sheep: A flock of Scottish blackface sheep was acquired for Whistling Straits, with the intent that the animals wander the property freely as might be encountered on a country course in the British Isles. The sheep are kept on-site during the golfing season (they are moved to an offsite farm during the winter months).
Bunkers: The sand bunkers constructed for the course are composed of sand native to the area. Not all of the sand was original to the Whistling Straits property; additional sand from a site located 10 miles from the course was brought in to complete construction. In building The Straits, 7,000 truckloads of sand - approximately 105,000 cubic yards - were brought to the site. Maintenance of the bunkers is intended to be natural by the elements, primarily the wind; staff maintenance is minimal.
Distinguishing Features: The Straits®
• Two miles of uninterrupted shoreline on Lake Michigan
• Eight holes hug the Lake Michigan shoreline
• View of Lake Michigan’s endless vista of water from all 18 holes
• Four stone bridges at holes 1, 9, 10 and 18
• Bluffs and massive sand dune areas
• Natural fescue fairways (rather than the traditional Bentgrass)
• Elevation change on the course (hole 15) is approximately 80 feet
• The Straits is a walking course only; walking distance for 18 holes on The Straits is approximately 5 miles
• Caddies required (prior to twilight)
Grasses: The Straits
• Greens are a Bentgrass cultivar (named Providence)
• Tees are a Bentgrass cultivar (named Penncross)
• Fairways are a blend of three fescue cultivars
• Primary rough is the same fescue blend as fairways, but maintained at a higher cut
• Deep rough is a blend of four fescues
• The mounds and berms are largely left uncut
Average size of the greens: 7,500 square feet Average tee size: 6,000 square feet
Acres of fairway: 22 Acres of rough: 150
Sand bunkers: More than 500 bunkers Water hazards: 14
Distinguishing Features: The Irish
• Views of Lake Michigan are presented on holes 2, 11, 12 and 13
• Nearly 2,000 trees were planted in creating The Irish
• A 10.5-acre “lake” was constructed on the back nine of The Irish. It serves as a scenic enhancement and a hazard that comes into play on holes 16, 17 and 18.
• The Irish was designed as a walking course; walking distance for 18 holes on The Irish is approximately 5 miles
• Golf cars are available on request but are limited to the paved pathways
• There are four streams that meander through The Irish
• The streams are traversed by ten wooden bridges constructed of wooden beams, telephone poles, railroad ties and yellow pine planks (eight bridges permit golf cars, two are for pedestrian traffic only)
Grasses: The Irish
• Tees, fairways and greens are Bentgrass cultivars (tees are Penncross; greens are Providence; fairways are Penn Trio)
• Primary rough is a blend of five fescues
• Deep rough surrounding the dunes is a blend of fine fescues
• The mounds and berms are largely left uncut
Average size of the greens: 7,000 square feet Average tee size: 5 sets; each 1,500 square feet Acres of fairway: 27
Acres of rough: 150
Sand bunkers: More than 500
Water hazards: Creek or pond in play on 10 holes
Golf Practice Facility:
Practice areas are located near the clubhouse for guests to practice prior to or following their rounds. Private lessons with video and computer swing analysis and instructional clinics are available from the Kohler Golf Academy professional staff.
Each hole at Whistling Straits® features multiple tee boxes with as many as seven on certain holes. Five tee placements are marked on each hole – red, white, green, blue and black, positioned for increasing degrees of difficulty. The arrangement allows players of varying abilities to play together without diminishing the thrill or challenge of the course.
In homage to golf’s origins, The Straits® and The Irish at Whistling Straits were designed as walking courses. There are no paved car paths on The Straits. The walkways linking the holes are gravel and grass, resembling country roads. Power cars are not permitted on The Straits but are available on The Irish by request. Golf cars are restricted to the paved pathways on The Irish.
In keeping with the grand tradition of the game, The Straits and The Irish at Whistling Straits offer caddies. A valuable mainstay since the game of golf started more than 400 years ago, caddies continue to provide information on everything from yardage and the subtleties of individual holes and greens to the history of the course and clubhouse – enhancing a player’s appreciation of a course and the game.
A flawlessly crafted 13,000-square-foot structure that greets golfers with the warmth and rustic charm found in the Scottish countryside. Clubhouse Architect: Herb Quast, Kohler Co.
Interior Designer: Cheryl Rowley of Beverly Hills, California
Clubhouse Distinguishing Features:
• Rubble stone exterior walls
• Slate roofs with projecting rake detail
• Lannon stone patio with grape arbor
• Hand-hewn timber supports throughout
• Five fireplaces
• Men’s locker room has custom tiles by Ann Sacks Tile & Stone, and lavatory basins by Kohler Co. feature Whistling Straits® logo
• Restaurant, seating 64, with stone fireplace, views of 18th hole
• Spacious golf shop with stone fireplace
• Bar with stone fireplace
• Locker rooms for 129 men and 28 women; men’s has two stone fireplaces
• Accommodates up to 28, with stone fireplace and handsomely decorated
A stone shelter in the style of an Irish barn was added to the site in 1999. The pavilion structure, with solid stone walls on three sides and an open face toward Lake Michigan and the golf course, was designed to be used for group functions and weddings.
CHAMPIONS’ LOCKER ROOM
The 8,722-square-foot Champions’ Locker Room at Whistling Straits was constructed for large corporate golf outings and major golf tournaments. It is located in the vicinity of the 10th tee on The Straits® and is similar in structure and aesthetics to the current Whistling Straits Clubhouse.
The Champions’ Locker Room features two distinct locker rooms equaling 204 full-sized lockers. During championship golf tournaments, the locker room is used solely by the golf professionals, offering a distinct location allowing uncommon privacy for the players.
While played by professionals, Whistling Straits® is proudly open to both resort guests and the general public. Some restrictions may be applied to non-resort guests.
ABOUT KOHLER CO. HOSPITALITY & REAL ESTATE GROUP
The Kohler Co. Hospitality & Real Estate profile includes The American Club, boasting the first and only Forbes Five-Star hotel property in Wisconsin, and world-renowned championship golf courses Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run. Its sister property, The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in the birthplace of golf, St Andrews, Scotland. It is recognized as one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. In 2017, Kohler Co. opened LODGE KOHLER in the heart of Titletown, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
ABOUT DESTINATION KOHLER
Herb Kohler created Kohler Co.’s Hospitality & Real Estate Group with the reclamation of The American Club, the first and only Forbes Five-Star hotel in the Midwest, and then built world-renowned championship golf courses, The Straits and The Irish at Whistling Straits and The River and Meadow Valleys at Blackwolf Run. The resort is named one of the top three golf resorts in North America, by Golf Digest. Kohler Waters Spa is the only Forbes Five-Star spa in Wisconsin and one of 64 in the world. The resort features 12 dining establishments from the Four-Star Immigrant Restaurant to traditional pub fare of The Horse & Plow as well as River Wildlife. Herb Kohler believes River Wildlife, located in the forest and on the river, on an early Winnebago encampment, has the best country gourmet dining in the United States. The resort is located in the Village of Kohler, Wisconsin, one hour north of Milwaukee and two and a half hours north of Chicago.
Golf & Hotel Reservations: | Mailing Address: N8501 Lakeshore Road, Sheboygan, WI 53083 | Website: GOLFKOHLER.COM