Beyond Milwaukee: The Best Kohler Golf Courses

By: Jeanette Hurt

November 24, 2014

The wind whips off the azure waters, bending the fescue grasses on the undulating terrain in between sand bunkers and against steep cliffs. Appearances suggest that the Straits course of the Whistling Straits Golf Course to be in Scotland, but instead, these challenging 18 holes are located on the banks of Lake Michigan. Set in a little town north of Milwaukee, this is one of the mighty Kohler golf courses.


Beyond Milwaukee: The Best Kohler Golf Courses
The sheep graze on the tee box at Whistling Straits © KohlerCompany


Created by legendary designer Pete Dye, Whistling Straits is part of his course portfolio, the others being The Irish at Straits and the Meadow and River courses at Blackwolf Run. These exciting Kohler golf courses have hosted two PGA Championships, the Andersen Consulting World Golf Championship, a U.S. Senior Open and two U.S. Women’s Open Championships. All four courses routinely garner high rankings on “100 best” golf course lists, and for hard-core golfers, they are naturally considered to be among the courses you must play before you die. Next year, the Straits will again host the PGA Championship, and in 2020, they will host the Ryder Cup matches.


Beyond Milwaukee: The Best Kohler Golf Courses
The mist rolls in at Hole 9 Deer Hunt on the Meadows Course at Blackwolf Run © KohlerCompany


But if you know Kohler, and Herb Kohler, visionary CEO of Kohler Company, the success of this small town won’t come as a complete surprise. In 1979, Herb Kohler aimed to transform the American Club, originally built as dormitory housing for immigrant workers in 1918, into a country inn. After being turned down twice by his own board of directors, Kohler finally got it built, and today, the American Club boasts both the coveted AAA Five Diamond ranking and Forbes Five Star ranking.


Both the Straits and Blackwolf Run courses are as delightful and luxurious as the resort town in which they were built. Both offer world-ranked golf shops, house gourmet restaurants, and feature golf academies with video feedback on your swing.


Beyond Milwaukee: The Best Kohler Golf Courses
The 17th hole of the Straits Course at Whistling Straits features such a large drop-off it is called Shipwrecked © KohlerCompany


Many golfers choose a package that involves playing at two or more courses, but golf isn’t the only must-do activity. A visit to the Kohler Waters Spa, one of only 41 spas in the world to hold a five-star ranking, can prepare or help one recover from a vigorous golf outing. To loosen up joints, try a golfer’s pre-round massage on the WaveMotion Body Treatment table or receive a golfer’s foot renewal treatment afterwards.


Both the American Club Resort and the Inn on Woodlake are appointed luxuriously and promote the latest in Kohler bath technologies from spa and steam showers to bubble baths. The American Club offers more traditional décor while the Inn on Woodlake is more modern. The Inn also allows dogs and features a putting green on the property.


Beyond Milwaukee: The Best Kohler Golf Courses
Seafood is a featured specialty at Whistling Straits restaurant © KohlerCompany


Amazing restaurants are located on or next door to both hotels, but the best-loved dining destination is the Immigrant Restaurant, which serves up contemporary American cuisine with European influences. Every autumn, the resort hosts the Kohler Food & Wine Experience, which attracts internationally renowned chefs and sommeliers, and every winter, the In Celebration of Chocolate weekend features one of the most decadent chocolate buffets you’re ever likely to encounter.


Header Image: After the 2004 PGA Championship, legendary Pete Dye decided the sixth hole at Whistling Straits was too easy so he widened the bunker, which surprised golfers at the 2010 competition © KohlerCompany


Have you played any of the Kohler golf courses? Share your tips in the comments below.


Written by Jeanette Hurt


Jeanette Hurt

Award-winning author Jeanette Hurt writes about food, wine and travel for a variety of publications, including AAA Living, Wine Enthusiast and The Four Seasons, and she's also a food and beverage correspondent for Milwaukee NPR affiliate WUWM's Lake Effect show. When she's not writing about food, wine or travel, she can be found enjoying Milwaukee's lakefront bike and with her husband, their son and their dog.

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