The challenges of Whistling Straits

Steve Stricker, who lives in Wisconsin and is the captain of the United States team, said Kohler put Wisconsin on the golf map. “Whistli...


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

“Whistling Straits is a great test, a beautiful property,” he said. “This is just one of those iconic places here in our state thanks to Herb and his family. It all started here for Wisconsin golf, to be completely honest.

The Ryder Cup is, of course, about challenging the pros. Jason Mengel, director of the Ryder Cup, which ends Sunday, said he thought the course was “one of the best tests of golf in the world.”

There will also be a loud crowd on the first tee, where Mengel said he has set up reception tents in high-visibility areas to help set the mood. At the end of the course, Mengel said the 17th par-3 hole, named Pinch Nerve, “could play a vital role” in determining the winner.

Pinched Nerve continues a dye tradition of testing a golfer’s courage late in the game. Cut into the hillside, the green is flanked by bunkers to the left and right with a severe drop to the left of the long and somewhat narrow green. After these bunkers is Lake Michigan. If golfers go wrong to the right and push the shot up the hill, they will have virtually no chance of preventing the ball from leaving the green from the raised perch.

Looking at the course’s two finish holes, it’s hard to believe it’s on land that was once an airstrip. The dye cut through the cliffs that overlook the lake to create a jagged appearance, as if the course had always been there, waiting to be discovered. Doak said the earth he mined from those cliffs then allowed Dye to create the dunes and mounds found along the way.

Dye’s classes continue to test the best players. He had a singular vision, which was not that every course should have 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 make this thinking worse.

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