Kohler is Whistling

Kohler is on a roll! Last week’s PGA Championship was contested on the Straits Course at Destination Kohler Resort’s Whistling Straits. Millions of CBS Sports viewers saw the year’s final major championship unfold but more likely noticed the rugged, majestic scenery as the holes play along the craggy, dramatic bluffs overlooking Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore.
            This starring role comes only weeks after Kohler’s Old Course Hotel was a very visible venue in the British Open at St. Andrews, Scotland.
            “We can say with a modest agree of confidence that the Kohler Company is the first entity to have two resort outlets act as the host-hotel to two major championships in one calendar year,” says Scott Anderson, Group President of hospitality for Kohler and General Chairman of the 2010 PGA Championship. Anderson managed the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, so he knows about major events.
            If the name Kohler sounds familiar, you’ve likely seen it in the bathroom. Kohler has been the most recognizable manufacturer of bath and plumbing products worldwide since 1873.  As one largest and oldest privately held companies Kohler pumps also pumps out cabinetry, tile, home interiors, and now, golf resorts. Calling Herb Kohler, the company’s current chairman, an avid golf fan is a vast understatement. His collaboration with famed course builder Pete Dye to create the 72 holes at Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits 55-miles north of Milwaukee put Kohler on the golf world’s map. Kohler also converted an old dormitory for immigrant employees into The American Club, the Midwest’s only AAA Five-Diamond resort hotel. It’s 240 rooms feature Kohler whirlpool baths and other luxurious amenities.
You can expect a lot from the resort’s Kohler Waters Spa, given the company’s history in plumbing fixtures, and you won’t be disappointed: how about all-day immersion and a custom Vichy shower? Or perhaps some time in the wet therapy rooms, including the Acoustic Room featuring a VibrAcoustic Bath that treats guests to a one-of-a-kind bathing experience with a unique blend of sound vibrations from underwater music? That should help you to recover from your epic round on the Straits course and its’ 975 bunkers.
“Pete Dye claims he counted all of the bunkers, but I am not sure he did,” Anderson laughs.
That sounds fearsome.
            “I wouldn’t call the course frightening, but I would call it a challenge. It’s ranked #3 in America on Golf Digest’s ‘Courses You Can Play’ list.”
The Straits course runs along two miles of uninterrupted shoreline of Lake Michigan. All eighteen holes have a view of the lake while eight of them run directly along the edge. Enormous bluffs, massive sand dunes and the traditional fescue grass fairways shocking and awe inspiring.
            After seeing the Straits course on television during the PGA Championship, as they did when Vijay Singh won the 2004 version of the event and Brad Bryant captured the ’07 Senior U.S. Open, many average golfers will likely want to follow in the footsteps of the golf stars.
“I’m a character that likes to see stresses and strains, especially amongst those players who are the best in the world,” said Kohler, when he and Dye welcomed the professionals for that ’04 PGA. “We just want to see the best players in the world tested so that we can see aspects of their mental makeup, their emotional makeup and their courage.”
The PGA Championship will return in 2015 and, in 2020, the U.S. will battle Europe when the Ryder Cup Matches are held at Whistling Straits.�
Speaking of international golf, some will want to cross Lake Michigan instead of an ocean for a Scottish golf experience.
            “If I blindfolded you and took you to the course via helicopter you’d swear you were in Scotland,” says Anderson.            �
            Golfers, spa-goers, and lovers of luxury, scenery, nature, and outdoor activity such horseback riding hiking and lakefront yoga will swear they’re in heaven. Corporate packages, varied accommodations, activities and dining options can be discovered at www.DestinationKohler.com

Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at MPSbigshow@aol.com

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