THE AMERICAN CLUB RESORT – A Kohler Experience (Part I: Golf & Spa)

(Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

Herb V. Kohler (Courtesy Kohler Co.)

When Americans hear the name Kohler, golf is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.  Instead, the majority of us primarily think of faucets when we think of Kohler.  And we wouldn’t be wrong.  Founded in 1873 by an Austrian immigrant, John Michael Kohler, and headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin, the Kohler Company (“Kohler”) is a true American company with a storied history. Today, almost one-and-a-half centuries later, Herbert V. Kohler, grandson of founder John Michael Kohler and current President of Kohler Company, is leading the company’s charge into the business of golf resorts and destinations.

While many of us may not have automatically associated Kohler with golf resorts and golf courses, we definitely have heard of the renowned courses owned by Kohler.  Names like Whistling Straits and Black Wolf Run, both stops on the Major tours.  But Kohler’s golf experience is not limited to Stateside.  Kohler also owns The Old Course Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort in St. Andrews Scotland and operates The Dukes golf course there.

Old Course Hotel, St. Andrews, Scotland (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

It’s been a while since we featured a destination golf resort and The Fourth Tee is excited to name The American Club Resort in Kohler, Wisconsin as our next Destination Golf pick and this one is a treat!  The Fourth Tee conducted an extensive Q&A with The American Club Resort.  There is so much to enjoy at The American Club Resort that this will be a two-part feature.  Tune in next week for Part II.

Whistling Straits logo (Courtesy Kohler Co.)

Straits Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)


The Fourth Tee:  Whistling Straits consists of two 18-hole courses:  the Straits Course and the Irish Course.  What are the fundamental the differences between these courses – i.e., in the way they play?

The American Club Resort:  The Straits Course has a higher course difficulty rating (77.2 to 75.6) and slope rating (152 to 146) than the Irish.

Irish Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  Which of the two is the most popular among your patrons?

TACR:  The Straits course has the highest level of demand due to largely to the notoriety it has gained by hosting major championships.

Shipwreck - Straits Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  In the past Whistling Straits has been the venue for several professional golf tournaments including the PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open and the Palmer Cup.  Which of the two courses was featured more in these professional tourneys?

TACR:  Straits:  2004 and 2010 PGA Championships, 2007 US Senior Open, 2015 PGA Championship, 2020 Ryder Cup….Irish:  2005 Palmer Cup

TFT:  Will Whistling Straits be hosting any professional tournaments in near future?

TACR: Whistling Straits will be host to the 2015 PGA Championship and the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Gremlin's Ear - Straits Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  So, on some New York/New Jersey area courses, geese and, depending upon where you’re playing, the odd deer, tend to be a staple during a round of golf.  Sheep are featured in some of your photos.  Are they an indelible part of the Whistling Straits golf experience?

TACR:  They are.  The Scottish Blackface Sheep have become a signature part of the Whistling Straits experience.  They graze freely among the dunes of the golf course and are one of the most popular photos ops for our patrons.

Scottish Blackface Sheep grazing green side - Irish Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  In 2009, the Straits Course was ranked #3 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 rating.  What would you primarily attribute that ranking to?

TACR:  The combination of extraordinary golf course design and course maintenance, unique and memorable golf experience (walking only, professional caddies) and the growing tradition of hosting memorable major golf championships.

Straits Course - (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  In the same year and ranking, Golf Digest ranked the sister course, the Irish Course, #30 out of 100.  Although they both made the top 100 list, why do you think there is such a disparity in the rankings?

TACR:  The design, maintenance and experience elements are just as strong as the Straits….the large reason for this disparity is major championships hosted.  The Irish also has more traditional elements that you would typically see on other US courses, unlike the Straits.

Irish Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

Blackwolf Run logo (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)


MeadowValleys Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  According to your site, both the Rivers Course and the Meadow Valleys Course will reopen this year.  How long have they been closed?

TACR: The Rivers and Meadow Valleys courses have been closed since 2008 undergoing renovation and refurbishment in preparation for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. Both courses open in late May for the 2011 season after a major maintenance project on all 36 holes.

Rivers Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  What’s better with the re-opening?

TACR: In 2009 and 2010, Blackwolf Run completed a major maintenance project on all 36 holes.  The courses now feature new grasses on greens, tees, fairways and selected rough areas. The improved surfaces will provide major championship-caliber playing surfaces.  All of the sand bunkers have been refurbished. There are five tee options, providing increased degrees of difficulty to players of all skill levels.

Rivers Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  The Original Championship Course, billed as a “composite course of the River and MeadowValleys,” will be hosting the U.S. Women’s Open in 2012.  When in 2012?

TACR: Site of the first Kohler-hosted golf championship in 1998, The Original Championship Course at Blackwolf Run welcomes the 67th U.S. Women’s Open, July 2-8, 2012. One of Pete Dye’s crowning achievements, Blackwolf Run opened for play in June 1988 and was named that year’s “Best New Public Course” by Golf Digest. It has continued to accumulate awards and honors including regularly being ranked on the list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” by Golf Digest and the “Top 100 You Can Play” by GOLF Magazine.

TFT:  Are you offering, or planning on offering, any special packages for out-of-towners who want to attend this event?

TACR: Those interested should check www.2012uswomensopen.com for updates.

TFT:  For interested readers, how soon in advance should they book their stay?

TACR:  Advanced booking for hotel golf packages is highly recommended.  To properly experience all that Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits have to offer, it is important to experience all 4 golf courses.  Our To Dye Four package is the perfect answer.

MeadowValleys Course (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

KOHLER GOLF ACADEMY

TFT:  Tell us about your golf academy.

TACR: Kohler Golf Academy, ranked in the top 50 best golf schools in America by GOLF Magazine, provides year-round golf instruction with practice facilities at Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits during the golf season and at the Kohler Golf Academy Indoor Studio, located at The Shops at Woodlake, during the off season.

Guests can improve their game with golf schools or private lessons at the Kohler Golf Academy. Our certified instructors have experience working with players of all abilities including touring professionals and top amateurs. Take advantage of state-of-the-art tools to advance your game, including video analysis with the JC Video System.

For additional information, contact Todd Wagner, Manager, Kohler Golf Academy, at (920) 565-6075 or via e-mail at KohlerGolfAcademy@kohler.com.

KOHLER WATERS SPA

Kohler Waters Spa (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  The Fourth Tee must admit it is salivating at the photos of the spa experience at your resort.  Tell us more about Kohler Waters Spa’s hydrotherapy treatments.

Riverbath Room (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TACR: They are truly a one-of-a-kind experience.  Kohler Co. has been in the water experiential business for over 135 years so it only makes sense that the Kohler Waters Spa focuses on the most innovative and leading edge water therapies.  We specialize in the use of hot and cold to relax the body and aid in circulation.  Some are very quieting and centering of the body, some are simply outrageous and unexpected.

Kohler Custom Vichy Shower (Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  What other amenities does Kohler Waters Spa offer?

TACR:  We feature the very highest quality treatments that are not only luxurious but are also very therapeutic to the body.  In addition, we feature our signature 30 foot pool with 8 foot waterfall.  Under the waterfall is a bench to sit on and relax while the water pours over your shoulders.

(Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

(Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TACR (Cont’d):  We have steam, sauna, whirlpools and cool plunges in each respite area.  The men’s cool plunge is unique as it is 8 feet deep so you can jump right in!  We also feature a great enclosed rooftop deck with 16 foot fireplace and co-ed whirlpool for couples to relax and unwind from their hectic lives.

(Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  The Fourth Tee noted that there are Kohler Waters Spas in Chicago, IL and St. Andrews, Scotland.  Are there any other spa locations in the pipeline? i.e., to additional U.S. locations?

TACR: We are always looking but it has to make sense for us and it has to be the right location.  There are no sites we can share with you right now, but one never knows when the next Kohler Waters Spa will “bubble up!”

(Courtesy of Kohler Co.)

TFT:  Finally, when, in your opinion, is the best time to visit to get in great dining, great events, golf, spa and great shopping?

TACR: The American Club Resort offers year-round activities and events, perfect for any traveler’s preference. Whether you are traveling with your family, celebrating a holiday or interested in a weekend getaway, the resort truly offers something for everyone, all year-round. For those who wish to experience Whistling Straits or Blackwolf Run, the courses are generally open April through October. Kohler Golf Academy offers lessons and clinics throughout the year. Other activities including dining, spa, shopping and outdoor adventures are available year-round.

The Fourth Tee thanks The American Club Resort for the opportunity to not only feature the resort as its new destination pick, but also to conduct this extensive Q&A.  To learn more about The American Club Resort and the Kohler golf experience, visit:  http://www.AmericanClub.com  or http://www.kohler.com/corporate/business/golf-and-resort-destinations.html.

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One Response to THE AMERICAN CLUB RESORT – A Kohler Experience (Part I: Golf & Spa)

  1. fhfrances says:

    To survive in this ever changing economy, it’s just natural for business owners to take the risk and embark on other business ventures. After their success in bathroom needs like acrylic bathtubs, it’s nice to see that Kohler is ready to bring his game to another level by investing in golf resorts and destination spots.

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