Whistling Straits Stands Ready to Host PGA Championship


Whistling Straits is ready.

Once the world’s best golfers finish off the Open Championship at Royal St. Andrews in Scotland, all eyes will turn to Sheboygan, Wisconsin and Whistling Straits for the season’s final Major Tournament, the PGA Championship.

Once called the most difficult public golf course in the United States, the Straits course will close soon so executives and staff can finish the work of several months — ramping up its difficulty to offer a maximum challenge to world’s top professional players.

Before the course shuts down for final preparations, PGA-registered media came out in droves this week for the rare opportunity to play a golf course prepped for the best in the world. I grabbed my TaylorMade bag, girded my loins and joined a foursome to take on the beautiful, but brutal golf destination.

The weather along Lake Michigan held off the rain but didn’t cooperate with warm sunshine. Instead, it was overcast with plenty of thee winds that gave the waterside course its name. The links style masterpiece of designer Pete Dye offers constant water views and an otherworldly sense of calm. However, rolling hills, club-grabbing rough and endless pot bunkers quickly remind the golfer that he’s not there just to admire the views.

Related: Whistling Straits, America’s Toughest Public Course

For an amateur golfer, Whistling Straits is an elite challenge. When it’s set up for pro play, it becomes an endurance round. There’s simply no relief on most holes. So, shots must be nearly perfect to find the narrow fairways and the undulating greens. Personally, I parred three holes and picked up on just as many after flirting with a snowman on my score card. You have to expect those extremes while playing a course designed difficult and made more so for a special event.

During my round of very up and down “up and downs,” I asked course pros and other folks on the course what they think the winner will end up shooting over the course of the PGA Championship. The consensus was eight to 10 under par would get the job done. That would mean the absolute best player in the world that week would manage two or three under par per each of the four rounds. If the best can only shoot just under par, a media player like myself was out of his depth.

Regardless, the course is so naturally beautiful and in such prime condition, it’s an honor for a player to tread on what amounts to sports hallowed ground once a Major is underway. After the PGA Championship clears off and Whistling Straits reopens, the resort services of Destination Kohler will jumpstart their Ultimate Buddies Trip Packages. Through the summer and into October, the trips offer three resort nights, four 18-hole rounds of golf, spa services and other goodies.

Since you’ll probably not be able to play Whistling Straits before the pros arrive (or if you’d have trouble coming up with the greens fees of $385), you can get an idea of what you’d be looking at teeing off there with the course in PGA pro conditions via the gallery below. Enjoy your golfing nightmares.