While I have yet to enjoy a round (or beatdown, more appropriately) at Whistling Straits, I did have the pleasure of visiting the site twice in the past few days, including an incredible evening at the club for dinner. The dinner was very, very good, and the views and overall experience were spectacular. There was a ton of energy at the place, and I’m looking forward to spending a day walking the course during the 3rd round of the PGA Championship.
We previewed the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay back in June, so here are some pictures and a few links to get you ready for the final leg of what has been an unbelievable year for major championships in golf.
This is a view from near the clubhouse, behind the 18th green, looking back up the fairway. If you have the pleasure of visiting the Straits course, there are several seats at the top of this hill behind the green where you can enjoy a drink and watch the golfers come in as the sun sets. Having seen 10 or so groups finish here, I can confirm that this hole is a nightmare for amateurs.
Also, if you are attending the PGA Championship on Sunday and want to see the finish here, you better arrive early. Unlike Chambers Bay and its 6,000 or so seats available around the 18th green, the seating at the finish here appears to be extremely limited.
One of the cool features of the Straits course and the view from the clubhouse is that both the 18th and 9th holes are visible, and both holes make their way downhill into a valley below the clubhouse. Here the 18th green is in the foreground, with the 9th in the background and to the right.
This is a great-looking tee shot at the 10th hole. The middle bunker is huge and dominates your vision off of the tee, but in reality there is a lot of fairway out there. Having seen this view, with the tents and structures off in the distance, along with just a small glimpse of the water over the 18th fairway, my anticipation of cresting this ridge and seeing Lake Michigan, and walking all of the holes that hug the coast, is off the charts.
The Media Center alone is about the size of an indoor football practice facility. It’s amazing to see the structures going into place and the speed at which they go up. The smaller building in the foreground of this picture was not there on my first visit to the course, but was fully constructed just a day later.
One of the joys of visiting Kohler, Wisconsin is seeing what the bathrooms look like. Whether you are at the Straits, Blackwolf Run, the American Club, or any of the local businesses, you will never be so excited to check out the bathrooms than you will here. No two bathrooms are the same in this area, and all of them seem to be loaded with tiny details that you see nowhere else. At Whistling, one such detail is the course logo within the bathroom tiles themselves. From the bathrooms, to the dining room, to the pub upstairs, the clubhouse at Whistling Straits is about as welcoming and Midwest-feeling as it gets.
You will hear a lot of comparisons during the PGA Championship of Whistling Straits to Chambers Bay, but don’t be fooled. Whereas Chambers comes as close as maybe any course in America to a true links experience, Whistling is a parkland course in a links body. Nowhere is this more evident than at the entrance to the course. The lead-in to the site of the course is pure rolling farmland. On the western edge of the Whistling Straits property, 20-30 foot dunes rise directly out of this farmland and lead in to what feels like a different part of the world.
“You’re 50 feet in and all of a sudden you can’t see the rest of Wisconsin. You feel like you’re in a new world. It transports you to a different place.” – Mark Wilson
Here is a good primer on the property that I enjoyed, and a confirmation that the word “fescue” will be a much smaller part of the commentary for this major than it was in June.
For a good hole-by-hole video preview, there are some nice videos going up here.
Lastly, don’t forget to play, and if you have been good enough on the TGC Tours to qualify for the PGA Championship, practice on the outstanding renditions of Whistling Straits made by Craig Frey in The Golf Club.