Published on Wednesday, September 6, 2017

2020 Ryder Cup preview

Graham McKenzie heads to Kohler, Wisconsin, for a shower and a quick round of golf.

It might seem the height of insanity to be thinking about a golf match that's still over three years away, but that's exactly what they're doing in Kohler, Wisconsin. For it's here, on the Straits course of Whistling Straits, that the battle for the 2020 Ryder Cup will take place.

Only a short drive from Chicago's O'Hare Airport, you can be in the town centre for a late lunch if you take one of the early morning flights from the UK. I flew with American Airlines on its new Dreamliner and was lucky enough to experience the business class offering - it's good! Just 10 years ago, it would have been ridiculous to claim that a US airline would have a better offering at this level than most British airlines, but on this occasion I believe they have achieved it. Excellent food, service, comfort and, of course, the modern-day necessity, Wi-Fi.

The American Club

So, no problem getting there, but where to stay? The main hotel in Kohler is the American Club and once again it ranks very highly. Originally developed as a hostel for immigrant workers to help fuel the expansion of the Kohler manufacturing empire, it is now one of the country's leading hotels ranking alongside such luminaries as the Broadmoor in Colorado and the Breakers in Florida. It makes full use of its heritage and the rooms are a delight. Worth a mention are the showers, as you may have recognised the name Kohler? Since the late 19th century they have been supplying luxury bathroom and more recently kitchen hardware to the filthy (or clean) rich and well fed. There is a museum/showroom in town for you to ponder what might be in your domicile.

The American Club, owned by Kohler Company, is very much the centre of the destination and around half the people who live here work for them as well. As you stroll around the streets you can see perfectly manicured lawns, flowerbeds and shrubs. There is virtually no litter and I would think hell would freeze over before you see any graffiti. The message from the founding fathers was and is 'the commitment to a single level of quality that brings charm, good taste and generosity of spirit to all'. The American Club and Kohler exudes understated class throughout.

The 506yd Par 4 8th hole on the Straits Course

And what of the golf I hear you ask? Well the Straits course is sublime. For the most part, it hugs the shoreline of Lake Michigan and whilst it is not a links course and does not play like a links course, it looks very much like one with high penal rough, moulded fairways that are banked by dunes, fast greens and of course wind! But if you're not lucky enough to play the Ryder Cup course there is plenty else on offer. Kohler owns and manages 72 holes of prime championship golf within a 3 iron of the American Club, 36 at Whistling Straits, and another 36 at Blackwolf Run, home of the 2012 Women's US Open, plus there's another 18 planned further down the shore.

If golf isn't your thing you can learn to cook, kayak, walk, get massaged, go to a festival and in the winter cross country ski, walk in snow shoes, ice skate and go ice fishing, but not golf. You can, of course, as I was very tempted to, just sit in your shower for an hour or two.

We already know three years ahead of time that the 2020 Ryder Cup will be a success. Almost 300,000 people will be attending the spectacle but millions before and after will surely discover the delights of a relatively unknown part of the mid-west. Kohler is set to clean up.

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