Wisconsin Captured: The Summer’s Sunrise Over Whistling Straits

I’d been waiting a long time for the opportunity to photograph the Straits course at Whistling Straits with my drone, and last month – as part of the WSGA’s “Wisconsin Captured” project – I finally got to.

Well, it wasn’t my drone, but it was a drone. You see, my Mavic 2 Pro was with DJI at the time after clipping an overhanging tree branch at SentryWorld several days prior and falling into the pond.

I’m told dropping a drone in water is a right of passage, but man was that an embarrassing (and costly) mistake! Thankfully, we were able to pinpoint where it fell in based on the last split-seconds of video and some small leaf clippings that were still floating on the water, and after eventually locating and retrieving it with my toes in about four feet of water, I couldn’t have been more relieved. It obviously would not still work, but finding in the first place saved me thousands.

WiscoGolfAddict.com Contributing Writer, Troy Giljohann, was kind enough to let me borrow his Air 2S for the Straits, and along with Links & Landscape Photography / Wisconsin Captured Co-Project Manager Jeff Bertch’s Mavic 2 Pro I had everything I’d need to take full advantage of a gorgeous Summer morning on the back nine of one of our state and the world’s greatest public golf courses.

The sunrise over Lake Michigan and the 10th, 18th and 9th holes of the Straits course

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Our morning

Leaving Menomonee Falls at 4:15 in the morning, I was onsite with drone in the air by 5:20. Along with Jeff and Co-Project Manager Kyle Walton, Jordan Gibbons and the official Wisconsin Content Creator for the day Jason John Jahnke, we took thousands of photos and hours of video that morning to be featured in the WSGA’s upcoming Wisconsin Captured series. And I was still home by 8 for the start of my work day.

Because of the way the sun rises over Lake Michigan to the east, I can see the Straits course being best photographed at sunset. That later time of day and lighting would provoke long shadows over its rolling topography from the west, calling out trees from the Irish course and the undulating dunes that separate its playing lanes.

I’m partial to sunrises and sunsets over water, though, and the Great Lake looming aside this legendary Pete Dye design made for an ideal morning, if you ask me. We had plenty of shadows as the morning wore on, and the wide open terrain of Whistling Straits provided ample opportunities for creative shot-taking.

Just after the Golden Hour yielded the best photos for me as the sun’s rays cast shadows across the fairways and illuminated fescue and ground vegetation, creating wonderful contrast between it, the greens, fairways, sky and the lake.

Kohler had us photograph the back nine to allow their maintenance team to prepare the front for the day’s guests.

We of course made a detour or two to snap photos of neighboring holes on the Irish course, and to get some shots of the Scottish blackface sheep that roam between the Irish 11th and Straits course’s 11th and 15th. Jason, especially, spent time capturing video of these beautiful animals – I’m looking forward to seeing what he came up with in the final product.

Not wanting to interrupt his flow to snap pics with my iPhone, I held back. If you’ve never witnessed them, though, I think they’re such a cool addition to the property’s golf experience. In keeping with its Irish theme, Kohler imported them to the States to inhabit the Straits; I’ve heard it was hilarious watching Pete Dye’s dog chasing them about during the course’s development. This herd of Scottish sheep is the kind of thing that’s extravagant and unnecessary but oh so charming.

Scottish Blackface Sheep on the Irish course (photo: Troy Giljohann, WiscoGolfAddict.com)
The 11th on the Irish course at Whistling Straits

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The most challenging aspect in posting an article like this is in paring down the photos. I could easily post 10 that I love from several holes, but am keeping it to just my favorites. So, without further adieu, I present some of my favorites of my photos from the back nine of Whistling Straits, by hole:

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10th hole: Voyageur (par 4)

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11th hole: Sand Box (par 5)

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12th hole: Pop Up (par 3)

Need a quick “Moment of Zen” to help re-ground you? Try this on…

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13th hole: Cliff Hanger (par 4)

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14th hole: Widow’s Watch (par 4)

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15th hole: Grand Strand (par 4)

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16th hole: Endless Bite (par 5)

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17th hole: Pinched Nerve (par 3)

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18th hole: Dyeabolical (par 4)

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