Conversations about Whistling Straits’ Straits course tend to revolve around its vaunted difficulty. No wonder—the course can be debilitating to wayward players and everyone else not on top of their game. Hitting it crooked usually means hacking back into play from the wispy fescue grasses or playing out of one of the course’s 1,000-plus bunkers, usually from well below the fairways and greens. When the wind blows—and it usually does—things get even harder, and even if you’ve kept it together for most of the round, the dominating 17th and 18th holes await at the end to make sure you don’t leave with the wrong impression.
We want Whistling Straits to be demanding, difficult, impossible. Maybe not always for our own rounds there, but at least for the professionals who occasionally visit, including the three PGA Championships the course has hosted, or for the 2021 Ryder Cup. We want to see the world’s greatest players be tasked with executing pressure-filled shots fraught with failure and penalty. We want to see them stressed when the greatest stakes are riding on their swings.
Those pressured-filled shots are everywhere at Whistling Straits, just as Pete Dye and Herb Kohler, resort owner, intended. Kohler wanted a course capable of hosting major championships, and Pete Dye went to extremes to deliver one. It took Dye several years to gouge terraces into the flattop bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, lining them with bumpy dunes and grassy knolls so no holes were easily visible from the others. The result is 18 ingenious verandas that peer spectacularly across the water, each suffused with stroke-sapping accoutrement.
The creation of Whistling Straits—the “how” part of the equation—is fundamental to the story of why the course is the way it is. This video gives us a birds-eye view of how completely Dye re-arranged the existing landscape to engineer a golf course that simultaneously vexes professionals and excites the golfers who flock to the course every year.
Watch our "Every Hole at: Whistling Straits" video below: