By Jodie Jacobs
Imagine playing at Kohler’s Whistling Straits on the Straits course that hosted 2015 PGA championship and will host the 2020 Ryder Cup. The famed Pete Dye course is just one clue that Kohler, WI is way more than a place that manufactures bathroom and kitchen fixtures.
A mere hour’s drive north of Milwaukee and two hours from Chicago, the town of Kohler, is a relaxing but sophisticated getaway from urban stress. Gorgeous in the fall, Kohler is also a great destination any season.
But first, you should know more about Whistling Straits. Designed as an Irish-style links course it has challenging thick grass areas, hundreds of bunkers and spectacular views of Lake Michigan. It also has several Scottish Blackface ewes and you can’t ride a cart. Indeed, during a recent visit, a foursome from Mississippi said that it felt as if they walked 36 holes, not 18. That they had encountered a wind that was almost as strong as the one that delayed the PGA tournament might have something to do with it.
If not able to snag a tee time on the Straits, which borders Lake Michigan, check out its sister, the challenging Irish Course across the road that has meandering streams and also in-your-face bunkers. With the Clubhouse’s Irish Pub, atmospheric dining room and stone out-buildings, you really feel as if you stepped onto a bit of the Auld Sod. The two Whistling Straits courses are nine miles northeast of The American Club, Kohler’s AAA Five-Diamond, Forbes Five-Star hotel.
Golf is just as memorable, though challenging in a different way, at Dye’s beautiful Blackwolf Run near the American Club. Golf Digest named it “Best new public course” when it opened in Kohler in 1988. Here, you play either The River or The Meadow Valleys. They take advantage of Wisconsin’s gorges and ravines.
To prepare sore golf muscles for more activity do a deep tissue massage at the Forbes Travel Five Star award-winning Kohler Waters Spa. Or just book a time there because you deserve some pampering. The spa is in The Carriage House which is part of The American Club.
And no, you don’t have to play golf to enjoy Kohler. You have probably guessed that your accommodations have bathrooms you would love to have at home. If really into fixtures, you can take a free, three-hour factory tour or just go into the Design Center next to the Carriage House to see what’s new and get some clever, style ideas from its upstairs showrooms.
So the next question when looking for an escape is about dining options. You don’t have to leave the American Club because it has the AAA Four Diamond, Forbes Four Star Immigrant Restaurant. In addition, the restaurant just received “Wine Spectator’s” 2015 “Best of Award of Excellence”. The Wisconsin Room has a delicious breakfast buffet and from-the-menu breakfast. The Greenhouse, an antique solarium of stained glass windows and plants, is the place to go for early morning espresso and afternoon ice cream.
But when you want to explore your surroundings, you can take the American Club’s shuttles (or drive) to several, really good dining spots. Cucina Italian Restaurant in an upscale mall on Wood Lake, has superb seafood. Do dessert there or go next door to the Craverie Chocolatier Café. Even if you do your final course at Cucina, stop at the Café to bring something back to the room.
The golf courses also have good restaurants. So even if you don’t play Whistling Straits you can take the shuttle over there and dine on British and Irish themed dishes while looking over the course. Or go over to Blackwolf’s rustic dining room for steak or Alaskan salmon with a great view of its course.
Now you need to know where to go the next day to work off all the yummy food. Enter the Sports Core Health and Racket Club. Swim, play tennis, work out on machines, work with a personal trainer or take a fitness class. The Core, a 100,000 square foot facility on Wood Lake, is available free to hotel guests.
The only problem with a Kohler getaway is having to leave to go back to work.