Whistling Straights

The Straits Course at Whistling Straits, where the US PGA Championship is to be played from August 13, is a Pete Dye masterpiece that replicates the ancient links courses of the UK and Ireland.

The Straits, one of four courses associated with the luxury resort, The American Club, in Wisconsin, is the flagship course of Whistling Straits.

It hosted the 86th PGA Championship won by Vijay Singh in 2004, the 92nd PGA Championship won by Martin Kaymer in 2010, and was host to the 2007 US Senior Open.

It has been ranked as high as third on Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses in the USA, and will also host the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Nestled along a two-mile strip of shoreline at Lake Michigan, the Straits Course features large rolling greens, deep pot bunkers, grass-topped dunes and winds that sweep in off the lake and can give the course some vicious teeth.

At 7,514 yards, the par 72 Straits layout is the one the longest courses ever to host a major.

It’s signature 17th hole, named “Pinched Nerve”, is the most difficult par-3 on the course. At 223 yards, with towering sand dunes and the lake running down its left flank, it is seriously unforgiving and accurate tee shots are a must.

It doesn’t makes things easier, but it does add to the ambiance of the course that there are eight holes hugging the lake, ready to swallow any misdirected hits, a series of elevation changes of up to 80 feet and three stone bridges at the 9th, 10th and 18th holes.

Although the Straits Course duplicates British and Irish links layouts, it was not a linksland in its original state.

Indeed between 1949 and 1959 it served as the Camp Haven airfield, but was merely a flat and featureless piece of abandoned land with a stream running through the middle of it when Herbert Kohler purchased the property with the intention of turning it into a golf course as an added attraction for the luxury Kohler resort he was developing.

Kohler signed up Dye as his course architect and gave him a virtually unlimited budget to make something of it.

Dye, one of the world’s finest golf course achitects, certainly did.

First off, he covered the original piece of land of the Straits Course with about 800,000 cubic yards of soil and sand.

At the time, the amount of earth moved was considered extreme for a golf course, but this amount has been dwarfed by the amounts used to construct some of the newer courses, notably Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, where 25 million cubic yards of earth were moved.

The second course at Whistling Straits, the Irish Course, is an inland grass-and-dune layout. It has 18 holes and features a 7,201 yards of golf from the longest tees on this par 72 course.

The course rating is 75.6 while the slope rating is 146 on bent grass. Like the Straits course, it was designed by Pete Dye, and opened in 1998.

Having served as a PGA Championship host site, the Straits course is the more famous of the two, but respected golf course observers rate the Irish Course as the much more difficult of the two to play, noting that trouble lurks everywhere via forced carries, gnarly rough, ponds, streams and ravines.


To go to a hole-by-hole tour of the course on the resort’s official website, click here


Apart from its well-stocked Pro-Shop, the Kohler Golf Academy at Whistling Straits is an excellent institution and has been ranked in the top 50 best golf schools in America by GOLF Magazine.

The Academy provides year-round golf instruction with practice facilities at Whistling Straits during the golf season and at the Indoor Studio, located at The Shops at Woodlake, during the off season.

Its certified instructors have experience working with players of all abilities including touring professionals and top amateurs. they make use of all the latest state-of-the-art tools to advance their client’s games, including video analysis with the JC Video System.


The club house at Whistling Straits has been described by the resort owners as being “elegantly rustic and is reminiscent of an old country farmhouse in the Irish countryside.

This unique building is full of architectural detail, ambiance and stands as a historic tribute to the game of golf.


You can enjoy outstanding cuisine and a scenic view of Lake Michigan from the Whistling Straits Restaurant. Located in the Clubhouse. it offers lunch, dinner abd bar menues with British Isles flair and earned a rare Three Diamond Award from AAA in 2010.

It also received Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence in 2010.

But The Whistling Straits Restuarant is only one of many eating etsablishments in the resort that offer delicious fare. Whether it’s a sumptuous breakfast buffet, a leisurely afternoon snack or an elegant full-course dinner, dining in the Kohler Resort is a gastronomic delight.

You can choose from nine distinctive dining establishments located throughout the resort, from its hotels and clubhouses to its Sports Core Health & Racquet Club and to The Shops at Woodlake. There is truly something to meet every taste at one or more of the following restuarants:

– The Immigrant Restaurant
– The Winery Bar
– The Horse & Plow
– The Wisconsin Room
– The Greenhouse
– Whistling Straits Restaurant
– Blackwolf Run Restaurant
– Cucina
– Woodlake Market Dining
– Take 5 Cafe
– River Wildlife
– Recipes