Awesome golf—highlighted by Erin Hills itself—surrounds the site of this year’s U.S. Open
By Chris Duthie
With the 117th U.S. Open Championship coming June 12-18 to glorious Erin Hills Golf Course northwest of Milwaukee, the eyes of golf are steadfastly focused on East Central Wisconsin, proving the Badger State is so much more than beer, cheese, cranberries and football.
Aside from a landscape naturally infused with Great Lakes shorelines, panoramic rural countrysides and effervescent urban areas, what makes this region worth an extended vacation? Here are five dynamic ways to satiate your growling golf appetite:
1) Golf Digest ranks Erin Hills, located 37 miles northwest of Milwaukee, among the top 10 public courses in America. Crafted by Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten, this brazenly wild throwback to Scottish coastal links designs earns acclaim for its posh overnight accommodations, casual dining, premium caddie services and a routing that can be stretched to a scorecard-punishing 8,000 yards.
2) In Haven, about 80 miles northeast, go preview the site of the 2020 Ryder Cup by playing Whistling Straits, 36 holes of brilliant Pete Dye golf. Golf Digest ranks the 7,790-yard Straits routing No. 22 on America’s top 100 courses; plus it hosted the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championships. Don’t pass on the 7,201-yard Irish, a marginally less thuggish creation that, like its badass sister, vexes players with Lake Michigan winds, hundreds of unkempt bunkers, and row upon row of fescue-cloaked dunes.
3) More astonishing golf awaits in nearby Kohler at The American Club. Along with luxurious accommodations, fine dining, Kohler Waters Spa, indoor tennis, shopping and singular activities, the Forbes Five Star-lauded resort is celebrated for another Dye-designed masterpiece, 36-hole Blackwolf Run, site of the 1998 and 2012 Women’s U.S. Opens. Insider’s tip: Overnight guests of The American Club earn daily-play access to both Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits.
4) Just a few miles southwest of Kohler is Wisconsin’s only Jack Nicklaus Signature design, The Bull at Pinehurst Farms. The 7,354-yard layout is listed on Golf Digest’s top 100 public golf courses in America, and is just seven miles west of water’s-edge Blue Harbor Resort & Conference Center in Sheboygan, which pampers guests with first-class accommodations, a signature spa, fitness center, fine dining and a 54,000-square-foot indoor water park.
5) Cap your trip with a visit to historic Elkhart Lake, located 21 miles northwest of Sheboygan. After checking into the AAA Four Diamond-rated Osthoff Resort, get in a relaxing round at the 27-hole Quit Qui Oc Golf Club, oeicrafted by Medinah Country Club architect Tom Bendelow. For an adrenaline rush visit Road America, “America’s National Park of Speed,” which thrills visitors with auto and motorcycle road racing plus team-building Karting, ATVing, geocaching and paintball.
What are your favorite memories of East Central Wisconsin? Share your comments below.
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.