Destination: Kohler is no understatement. The town leaps from a Norman Rockwell painting, offering a measurable sense of Americana as you arrive and settle in. There are four Kohler golf courses, and three of them are extraordinary. The River and Meadows Valley courses at Blackwolf Run are inland layouts, while the Irish course at Whistling Straits is filled with the runs, dells, and blind shots of an Irish links. Your reason for traveling to the western short of Lake Michigan lies on the former site of a US Army base.
The Straits course at Whistling Straits is the 4th designed by Pete Dye, and it is the one with greatest renown. It has hosted two PGA championships, will host the Ryder Cup in 2021, and welcomed long-drive king Kyle Berkshire in his new Youtube series. For those who never travel to the United Kingdom, it’s a pretty fine substitute for links golf. It’s a bucket-list course for the ages, and it has great-golf company in Wisconsin.
We’ve broken down the Where else to play options by cost. In previous takes (Bethpage Black and Pinehurst #2) we’ve stratified the complementary courses by arrival route and architectural style. After you fly into Milwaukee or Chicago, and drive north to the Kohler region, you’ll want to play more than one course.
The other three courses at Destination: Kohler fit into this stratum. A composite course (River and Meadows Valley) has hosted the USGA Women’s Open on two occasions. From time to time, the resort allows play over the composite course. The separate layouts, plus the Irish course at Whistling Straits, are excellent
The Bull (short for The Bull at Pinehurst Farms) is located in Sheboygan Falls, five miles from the center of Sheboygan, the big city near Whistling Straits. The Jack Nicklaus-designed course opened in 2003. An inland, parkland course, the layout works its way through forests, around ponds and bunkers, in the inimitable Nicklaus fashion. Also close to Sheboygan is Pine Hills. Built in the Lawsonia tradition, this club takes advantage of the turbulent land left behind by ancient glaciers. This unforgettable course is private, but a phone call to the pro shop is worth making.
The Town & Country golf course in Sheboygan is home to three nines. None extends beyond 3200 yards, so a challenging first 18 holes can easily be complemented by a third 9 or second 18 at a more relaxing venue. The lead candidate for best golf course name is undoubtedly Quit Qui Oc, which means crooked river in the Menominee Indian language. Like T&C above, QQO has 27 holes, perfect for an extended day of golf.
Some days, the best follow-up to a rigorous 18 is a chillin’ 9 over a par three course. Greater Sheboygan has a pair of fun 9s at Sunset Hills and Evergreen. Pack a Sunday bag and stroll casually around either 9.