Early Season Golf at Whistling Straits & Golf Kohler

There are a number of different ways to play Whistling Straits, and none of them are cheap. Playing it during the early Spring and late Fall, though, will save money.

Normal folks like myself have a hard time dishing out $600 for a round at the Straits, so one of the most common questions I get asked is how and when to play it.

The answer: Whenever you can afford it and have a good group to go with. The more economical answer, though, depends on the year. Kohler’s current promotion has early-season deals through Friday, May 9, which include:

  • Whistling Straits, Straits course: $190
  • Whistling Straits, Irish course: $80
  • Blackwolf Run: River course: $130
  • Blackwolf Run: Meadow Valleys course: $80

The next round of deals goes up significantly, making this week the perfect time to play it. Golf Kohler rates from May 10 to June 3:

  • Whistling Straits, Straits course: $300
  • Whistling Straits, Irish course: $130
  • Blackwolf Run, River course: $210
  • Blackwolf Run, Meadow Valleys course: $130

Now here’s where early-season rates get tricky…

There’s a fine line between taking advantage of early-season rates on one of the top five courses in the country and playing it on soupy, brown terrain. I won’t pretend to know everything about fescue grass, but a combination of the Straits course’s turf type and its proximity to the lake can mean a less than beautiful setting during some early Spring seasons.

The trick is to get as close to the final day of the early-season rates as possible, and to consult the course ahead of time if you’re concerned about how it’ll look and play.

For example, here is the second fairway on the Straits course during the final week of the initial early-season rates during two very different years:

The fairway on 2 at the Straits course on May 8, 2014 – soupy, soggy, brown, slow

In stark contrast, the course greened up very quickly this year, and in fact the conditions right now are legendarily good. In other words, if you can get a tee time on the Straits course this week (by May 9, 2019), book it. If you can’t and are on a budget, book it before June 3.

The fairway on 2 at the Straits course on May 5, 2019 – really good

As you can see, the big difference between what the course looks like right now versus what it looks like during peak season is in the fescue off the fairways – it just hasn’t grown in yet.

The fairway on 2 at the Straits course on August 10, 2014 – perfect

Additional photos from Sunday’s round on the Straits course:

It should be mentioned that the Blackwolf Run and Irish courses are much less volatile than the Straits, so if you’re looking for a world-class round of golf on one of them, feel confident in booking it that the conditions will be worth the investment.

Just like your game probably won’t be in mid-season form yet, though, don’t expect perfection quite yet – that’s why they’re offering early-season deals. The greens will probably still be a little choppy and on the slower side, the native grasses won’t be grown out yet, and tee shots probably won’t get as much run as they will in July… But chances are you’re still going to love the round.

WiscoGolfAddict review of Whistling Straits: Straits course (2014)

WiscoGolfAddict review of Whistling Straits, Irish course (2011)

WiscoGolfAddict review of Blackwolf Run, River course (2012)

WiscoGolfAddict review of Blackwolf Run, Meadow Valleys course (2014)

My Top 50 Golf Courses in America

When my brother and his wife bought me a golf ball cabinet about ten years ago, I started collecting logo balls from all the different courses I played. I hadn’t started my foray in to golf writing at the time so its contents grew slowly but steadily, consisting primarily of muni tracks around Waukesha County.

I started WiscoGolfAddict in 2011, and during that year played 59 different courses including three of my first private clubs. With 2012 came my first out-of-state golf trips: Myrtle Beach with my cousins Frank and Jeff, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a group of friends. It was also the year I played my first Tour courses, including Erin Hills, Blackwolf Run’s River course, Chambers Bay, University Ridge and Cog Hill No. 4 Dubsdread. I played 126 rounds in 2012 at a total of 52 different courses.

While I’d consider 2012 to be the year that opened my eyes to world-class golf, I’d also consider it to be the year that opened my eyes to the way golf can drain my bank account. An audit of my post-season golf charges that year was just shy of $10,000.

My first media event invites started coming in 2013, first for a pre-event media day at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run, and soon after a weekend trip to Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake in Brainerd, Minnesota. Exciting things with my golf writing were starting to snowball, and they have only continued to this day.

Through my writing I have experienced amazing public and private golf courses around the country, built out a wonderful network of industry experts and friends, and am continuously learning about all the things that make golf great – especially from the design and architectural side.

The experts (Doak, Fazio, Coore, Crenshaw, Jones, Staples, Trent Jones, Jr, …) may score 80-95 on a scale of 100 for their course design knowledge. I can’t claim to know more than 10-20, which is probably still generous, but the path to learning is filled with playing new styles of courses and constantly picking up on the both subtle and not-so-subtle nuances that architects institute in their designs. It’s an adventure I hope to enjoy for years to come.

While Golf Digest, GolfWeek and Golf.com release their best courses in the US lists on an annual or semi-annual basis, I have just one: This running list of the 50 tracks I consider to be the best in the country… out of the hundreds that I’ve played.

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1. Pacific Dunes (Bandon, OR)

Architect: Tom Doak (2001)
Yardages: Black-6633, Green-6142, Gold-5775
Slope/Rating: Black-142/73.0, Green-133/70.7, Gold-129/68.6

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The Top 50 Golf Courses in America (click here for the list)

Golf Course Photography: Whistling Straits, Irish Course

As a marshal for the upcoming PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, I have had access at times to discounted tee times at the Kohler courses, including the Irish course at Whistling Straits, the Straits (last season), the River course (last season) and the Meadow Valleys course at Blackwolf Run.

Seven friends of mine and I played the Irish course at Whistling Straits yesterday, and seeing as I have already reviewed the course (WiscoGolfAddict review of Whistling Straits, Irish course) I decided to use the round to experiment with new filters and settings on my camera.

The pictures to follow are some of my favorites from yesterday’s round at one of our country’s top 100 golf courses:

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The par four 1st hole tee shot at Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Jeff’s tee shot on the par three 3rd hole on the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Jeff’s tee shot on the par three 3rd hole on the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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The par three 6th hole on the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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The par five 8th hole on the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Blake’s sand shot on the 8th hole at the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Dan’s tee shot on the par four 10th hole at the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Sand and fescue left of the fairway on the par four 10th hole at the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Left-side approach on the par four 10th hole on the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Left-side approach on the par four 10th hole at the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Match-up for the ages: Jeff vs. Dan finished with Dan winning with par on 18 vs. Jeff’s bogey (10th hole green shown here)

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Tee shot on the par three 11th hole on the Whistling Straits, Irish course, with PGA Championship facilities being erected on the Straits course in the background

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Tee shot on the par three 11th hole on the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Dan’s tee shot on the par three 11th hole on the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Tee shot on the par four 12th hole at Whistling Straits, Irish course

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View from the 12th hole tee box toward the 14th on the Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Dan hitting his second shot on the par four 12th hole on the Irish course at Whistling Straits from the Straits course

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Tee shot on the par three 13th at Whistling Straits, Irish course

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A look from the par four 13th on the Irish course at Whistling Straits toward the Straits course

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A look from the par four 13th on the Irish course at Whistling Straits toward the Straits course

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The approach on the par five 14th hole at Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Sunset over the pond on 16/17 at Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Sunset over the pond on 17 at Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Tee shot on the par four 17th at Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Geese on the par five 18th tee box at Whistling Straits, Irish course

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Whistling Straits clubhouse at 9:30 pm… Sorta spooky