Wells Fargo Championship

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Whistling Straits (Straits Course)

Haven, Wis. / 7,790, Par 72 / Points: 64.5043

Stephen Szurlej

May 03, 2021

23. Whistling Straits (Straits Course)

Pete Dye (1998)

Pete Dye transformed a dead flat abandoned army air base along a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan into an imitation Ballybunion at Whistling Straits, peppering his rugged fairways and windswept greens with 1,012 (at last count) bunkers. There are no rakes at Whistling Straits, in keeping with the notion that this is a transplanted Irish links. It has too much rub-of-the-green for the comfort levels of many tour pros, two dozen of whom will tackle the Straits again in the rescheduled 2021 Ryder Cup.

100 Greatest History: Ranked since 2001. Highest ranking: No. 16, 2013-14. Previous ranking: No. 21

Watch Golf Digest’s latest “Every Hole At” course videos below:

Panelist comments, Whistling Straits (Straits):

“This is one of the best modern settings for tournament golf. A Pete Dye masterpiece designed to test the world’s best with good sight lines, flat fairways, not overly severe greens but challenging and intimidating tee shots and approaches.”


“A fabulous job weaving the holes so that Lake Michigan is always in view. The Straits course reminds me of Royal Dornoch in Scotland, with its holes running parallel to the water in an out-and-back fashion. The overall look and feel of Straits are very reminiscent of Scotland. But the holes are not nearly as memorable. The lakefront holes, while beautiful, were slightly repetitive in a sense that several of the greens felt the same. I kept asking myself, did we already play this hole? That will happen when almost every hole has a lake view, and meanders back and forth.”


“The par 4s are best described as "brutish" with even the short ones requiring long, forced carries. That said there are some generous landing areas even though it looks intimidating off the tee, as Mr. Dye usually did. The par 5s are all three-shot projects for everyone except the longest hitters.”


“One aspect of a complete golf game that seems to be disappearing from the Straits Course is the recovery shot. You're either in the fairway or blasting out from a deep bunker or thick vegetation. True links courses have some areas of fescue that are thin, tempting the heroic golfer to try to play a full shot, and many times letting him get away with it.”


“Land reclamation currently happening along the left side of holes 15 through 17 to hold off lake erosion.”

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

PGA of America

Stephen Szurlej