Course Spotlight

The Making of Whistling Straits and the Journey to the 43rd Ryder Cup

Published on

Michael Dennis Photography

Herb Kohler and Pete Dye had big expectations for Whistling Straits when they built the course 23 years ago.
During the 2020 Ryder Cup, Kohler sat down and shared how their vision came together and just how the Straits was able to give golf fans an experience unlike any other venue in Ryder Cup history.
"I recall walking some pretty rough broken ground with Pete Dye when we were building the first course at Blackwolf Run. Pete and I, as we walked along, confirmed that we were going to try to build only for majors. Not for regular weekly tournaments. Well here we are and all we have is lumps of clay at our feet and we're thinking pretty far out there. 
But we stuck to our idea that we were building for majors and here we are today with a tournament that is not considered a major and yet it is the biggest tournament in golf. To say that we are excited is an understatement. I wish Pete were here with me today. He deserves every accolade that can be tossed his way because this is such a wonderful platform to play the biggest tournament in golf. "
"I've been excited for 7 years. It's not just today, not just yesterday. You don't necessarily show your excitement for 7 years day by day, but believe me, when you walk out on this land having played these courses, when you walk out on the land today and see what has taken place in the way of paths that avoid congestion, in a way of stands that people can walk into and out of easily, in the way of suites that look on hole on the front and another hole on the back... These are spectacular things that have brought to this golf course."
"Virtually every hole has a sightline that is quite dramatic. I remember standing about where the clubhouse is today with Pete Dye looking out on this land that was perfectly flat and I said 'Pete, make it look like Ballybunion.'
The outcome essentially established three dune lines in which these holes are built all the way from 10 feet above the water up to 70 feet. It was quite an undertaking, but it really is a lovely, magnificent venue today. I can only thank the artistry of my friend Pete Dye."
"People have used diabolical to talk about Pete Dye and that is the name of the last hole ["Dyeabolical"]. You won't find another hole in golf anything like the 18th on the Straits. It's really remarkable. It's about 60 percent nature and 40 percent Pete Dye. 
"We're going to entertain 45,000 people. . .
I think the folks of Paris and perhaps Rome and New York will be a little bit jealous. They're going to have to work extra hard just to match us. We not only have a magnificent golf landscape that is fair both to Europeans and Americans, but we have water. The miles and miles and miles of view of Lake Michigan— which most people call an ocean. The combination is quite dramatic."