Where to play golf in Wisconsin: Variety galore at Whistling Straits, Sand Valley, Lawsonia Links and Erin Hills

Whistling Straits, Sand Valley, Erin Hills and Lawsonia Links make Wisconsin one of the strongest golf destinations in the U.S.

Where to play golf in Wisconsin: Variety galore at Whistling Straits, Sand Valley, Lawsonia Links and Erin Hills

Sure, Wisconsin is known for cheese, beer and its often-frigid climate on the shores of Lake Michigan. But golf? That far north, where it snows that much? 

To the far-flung uninitiated, it would seem to be a stretch. But to the well-traveled golfer, that’s a solid yes that carries all the importance of a Packers playoff berth. Over the past quarter century, the Badger State has become one of the top destinations in the world for elite golf, sporting a slew of layouts that have climbed high into Golfweek’s Best rankings of courses in the U.S. 

And yes, the golf world’s attention will be focused on Wisconsin when the Ryder Cup is played in September at Whistling Straits, a famed Pete Dye layout that is part of Destination Kohler on the shores of Lake Michigan. International TV broadcasts and top-tier professionals will make sure of that. The Straits course is the No. 1 public-access layout in the state, as judged by Golfweek’s Best national roster of course raters, and it’s deserving of that spotlight. 

But there’s simply so much more to Destination Kohler and Wisconsin as a whole, the spotlight shouldn’t be switched off when the Ryder Cup wraps up in September.

How strong can Wisconsin’s golf be versus powerhouses such as California, Arizona, Florida and the like? Consider that when comparing the Golfweek’s Best course ratings of the top five public-access courses in each state, Oregon is No. 1 in the country on the strength of famed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and its five 18-hole layouts. Wisconsin is No. 2 on that list, and it’s not reliant on one resort. Instead, there are five courses at three resorts and one daily-fee facility that push Wisconsin ahead of all those warm-weather states when comparing just the top five courses. 

On Golfweek’s Best ratings scale of 1 to 10, each of the top five in Wisconsin scores higher than 7, the only state aside from Oregon to do so. Sure, No. 3 California has historic Pebble Beach and the like, but it doesn’t beat out Wisconsin’s five-deep roster of Erin Hills, Lawsonia Links, two courses at Sand Valley and, topping the list, Whistling Straits’ Straits course. For consideration, Erin Hills ranks No. 5 among the state’s public-access tracks, and it hosted a recent U.S. Open. 

It’s little wonder I wanted for years to play all five of Wisconsin’s top public-access courses – in order from No. 5 to No. 1 – in one mad dash around the state, even if I had to explain to a curious fellow passenger, who had seen my golf travel bag before the flight to Milwaukee, why I was leaving my home state of Florida to find greener pastures up north. 

Sand Valley in Wisconsin (Courtesy of Sand Valley/Brandon Carter)

“We call it being Wisconsin friendly,” said Rich Tock, the current ambassador and former director of golf at Erin Hills and a member of the Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame. “We’re here to make it easy for people.”

Mike O’Reilly, the golf operations manager at Whistling Straits, said that if he took a group of players to Scotland, they likely would stay seven or eight days, play eight to 10 courses and move around a fair bit. The same can be done in Wisconsin. 

“In the last 15 years with the addition of Erin Hills, with the addition of Sand Valley, with the resurgence of some other places like Lawsonia and SentryWorld and several others, we’ve become really a global destination where people can visit the state of Wisconsin and play seven, eight, nine, 10 highly ranked golf courses over a seven-, eight-, nine-day period,” said O’Reilly, who started his career as a caddie at Destination Kohler more than 30 years ago. “There aren’t many states where you can say that. … It’s unbelievable.

Erin Hills in Wisconsin (Courtesy of Erin Hills)

“I would tell people we have some of the best golf in the world, and a wide variety of golf as well. It’s very good golf and unique golf courses.”

Michael Keiser said that when he and his brother, Chris, were developing Sand Valley, the newest kids on the block were welcomed with open arms. 

“Our competitors called me as soon as they heard our family was moving into the state to welcome us and offer to help, and they meant it,” Keiser said. “I’ve taken them up on that, and it’s just this great community. We all want to keep lifting each other up. … I think that speaks to the hospitality and friendliness of the state.”

Source : Golf Week More   

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Breaking: PGA Tour releases 2021-2022 schedule — WGC sliced, Euro partnership strengthens

The PGA Tour released its schedule — it included the first co-sanctioned European Tour event and only two WGCs.

Breaking: PGA Tour releases 2021-2022 schedule — WGC sliced, Euro partnership strengthens

The PGA Tour announced its slate of 48 tournaments that will make up the 2021-22 season, and it included a few new wrinkles.

The World Golf Championships will be sliced in half from four to two, with the WGC FedEx St. Jude Championship being promoted to the first of three FedEx Cup Playoff events and replacing the Northern Trust, which alternated between New York metropolitan area and Boston the last two years, and the Mexico Championship being demoted to a full-field regular season Tour event.

For the first time, the PGA Tour is co-sanctioning a European Tour event, the Scottish Open. The player field will be a split between members of both Tours and competitors will earn FedEx Cup points — a first for a European Tour event. Likewise, competitors in the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship opposite-field events will earn points in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai for the first time.

“Adding an existing, strong title sponsor in Genesis to our Strategic Alliance in the form of the Genesis Scottish Open – to be sanctioned by both Tours – is a significant step for the global game,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.

As part of the “Strategic Alliance” and collaboration between the two Tours, the Irish Open will nearly double the purse to $6 million for its annual European Tour event starting in 2022.

The 2022 portion of the schedule will kick off the PGA Tour’s new, nine-year domestic media rights agreements with ViacomCBS, Comcast/NBC and ESPN. There will be a one-week off season between the Tour Championship, September 2-5, and the kick off to the 2021-22 season in Napa, California at the Fortinet Championship.

The CJ Cup, which was held in Korea prior to COVID-19, will be held in the U.S. for a second straight year and be staged at The Summit Club in Las Vegas. The Zozo Championship, which was also held in the U.S. last year, is scheduled to return to Japan and the WGC HSBC Championship, which was canceled due to the global pandemic a year ago, is slated to be played in China.

The only remaining World Golf Championship events, which debuted in 1997, are the Dell Match Play Championship and the HSBC Championship in China.

Among the other notable changes to the schedule are:

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (January 31-February 6) and the Waste Management Phoenix Open (February 7-13) trade spots in the schedule, as the Tour’s event at TPC Scottsdale remains in its traditional date of Super Bowl week.

The Puerto Rico Open (February 28-March 6) will be played as an opposite-field event alongside the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

With the biennial Presidents Cup being held at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte in 2022, the Wells Fargo Championship (May 2-8) will be contested for one year at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland.

The John Deere Classic (June 27-July 3), traditionally played the week prior to The Open Championship, moves one week earlier.

The European Tour will announce the initial portion of its 2022 schedule later this month, with the full season announcement to follow in due course.

Source : Golf Week More   

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