What’s next for Wisconsin golf?

Grandstands at the 1st tee came alive before sunrise with fans eager to sit front and center.
The Ryder Cup was a huge success not only for the victorious Team USA, but also for the Kohler Co. and its Whistling Straits golf course, which looked spectacular on an international stage.
“Of the 37 different venues to host the Ryder Cup, the Straits course at Whistling Straits proved to be the best layout in the event’s history,” golf journalist Joe Passov wrote for Sports Illustrated.
The Ryder Cup was the topper for an incredible run at Whistling Straits, which opened in 1998 and has hosted three PGA Championships, a U.S. Senior Open and the Ryder Cup over a 23-year period. Those events had a tremendous economic impact on the state, including a $135 million boost estimated just for the Ryder Cup. The prestige of these events has helped make Whistling Straits and Wisconsin a national golf destination, which was chronicled in the cover story of our Sept. 13 magazine. The state now boasts an impressive lineup of elite golf courses that are open to the public, rivaling any other area of the country.
So, the major golf championships have been a nice boost to Wisconsin’s economy and help build the state’s brand as a golf destination and as a great place to live, work and play. What’s next?
Here’s what we have to look forward to: SentryWorld in Stevens Point will be the host of the 2023 U.S. Senior Open. Erin Hills in Washington County, which was the host of the 2017 U.S. Open, is set to host the 2025 U.S. Women’s Open.
What about Whistling Straits, the state’s golf crown jewel, and Blackwolf Run, Kohler Co.’s other Sheboygan County golf destination, which has hosted a pair of U.S. Women’s Opens? Neither is currently scheduled to host another major.
In an interview with sports reporter Stephen Watson of WISN-TV Channel 12 (a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee), Kohler Co. president and CEO David Kohler expressed a desire to bring more championships to Whistling Straits.
“We’re in discussions with all of the major golf organizations about the future of Straits,” he said. “It’s got a great resume, it’s proven itself. There will be major-level events here in the future. But time will tell what exactly they are. I think we’re proving ourselves to be worthy of another Ryder Cup. So, we would love to see that in the future as well.”
The next opening for a U.S. Ryder Cup site is 2041, for the U.S. Open is 2028 and for the PGA Championship is 2030.
In 2019, the PGA moved the PGA Championship from August to May, which likely means Whistling Straits won’t get it again because the fescue there isn’t grown in enough at that time of the year.
But somehow Whistling Straits, a gorgeous venue along Lake Michigan, deserves another opportunity to shine in the golf world’s spotlight.


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