2020 Ryder Cup: Get to know 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 -- The Straits and The Irish -- that continue to challenge the best professional and amateur golfers around the world.
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 and future events
2020 Ryder Cup will be hosted on The Straits at Whistling Straits.
At the 2015 PGA Championship on The Straits, held August 13-16, Jason Day claimed his first major championship in a final day battle with Jordan Spieth. Spieth had already win the Masters and U.S. Open that season. Day entered the final round with a two-stroke lead over Spieth and went on to post a three-stroke victory at 20-under par. At the time, Day's 20 under total was the lowest score in relation to par ever recorded in a major -- a mark since equaled by Henrik Stenson during his win at the 2016 Open 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, its first major. 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 then 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 PGA 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 PGA 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. 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 nine 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 golf 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).
• 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
Water hazards: 14