Golf

The Challenges of Whistling Straits

Steve Stricker, who lives in Wisconsin and is captain of the U.S. team, said Kohler put Wisconsin on the golf map.

“Whistling Straits is a tremendous test, a beautiful piece of property,” he said. “It’s just one of those iconic places here in our state thanks to Herb and his family. It started right here for Wisconsin golf, to be quite honest.”

The Ryder Cup is, of course, about challenging the pros. Jason Mengel, director of the Ryder Cup, which ends on Sunday, said he believed that the course was “One of the finest tests of golf anywhere on the planet.”

There will also be the raucous crowd on the first tee, where Mengel said they had put hospitality tents in high visibility areas to help set the atmosphere. Coming down the stretch, Mengel said the par-3 17th hole, named Pinch Nerve, “could play a critical role” in determining the winner.

Pinched Nerve continues a Dye tradition of testing the mettle of a golfer late in the round. Cut into a hillside, the green is flanked by bunkers left and right with a severe falloff on the left of the long, somewhat narrow green. Past those bunkers is Lake Michigan. Should golfers err toward the right and push the shot onto the hill, they will have virtually no chance to stop the ball from racing off the green from the elevated perch.

Looking at the course’s two finishing holes, it’s hard to believe that it lies on land that was once an airstrip. Dye cut into the bluffs that overlook the lake to create a ragged appearance, as if the course had always been there waiting to be discovered. Doak said the dirt he excavated from those bluffs then allowed Dye to create the dunes and mounding found throughout the course.

Dye’s courses continue to test the best players. He had a singular vision, which was not that each course must possess a set of qualities, but that a golf course should push golfers to play their best by thinking their way around the course. The pressure of the Ryder Cup will compound that thinking.

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