QA with Herb Kohler

By Rex HoggardAugust 6, 2010, 8:02 pm

For a man who has never played in a single PGA Tour event, manufactured a golf ball or club, or held a spot among the game’s power brokers at the U.S. Golf Association or Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, Herb Kohler has become an unquestionable catalyst in the game.

Kohler, 71, is the president and chairman of Kohler Company, a plumbing fixture giant, which owns Whistling Straits, site of this year’s PGA Championship, the 2015 PGA and 2020 Ryder Cup. Also part of the Kohler portfolio is Blackwolf Run, site of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open, the five-star American Club hotel and the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews. How has Whistling Straits evolved since the 2004 PGA Championship and what might players and fans expect to see?

Herb Kohler: Something a little more exciting. No. 8 will be really interesting if players can avoid that really deep bunker in front of the green. I obviously can’t guarantee a playoff (like the one that highlighted the 2004 PGA at Whistling Straits). The 18th hole has undergone a number of changes over the years. Is it where you would like it to be or do you envision more tinkering?

HK: The 18th hole has two fairways, the left fairway requires a big drive. You could end up with a wedge or sand wedge in your hand and could throw a real dart. We’ll see how it plays, if it plays as I describe it will be a great finishing hole.

(Designer) Pete Dye is coming back on Aug. 20 and we will always tinker. We are trying to make this the best golf course in the world. (Dye) wanted to tinker in July. I had to talk him out of it. He said, 'Herb, I’m getting on in years.' With the Ryder Cup scheduled to be held at Whistling Straits in 2020, do you think it is a better stroke-play or match-play course?

HK: That’s a hell of a tough question. I feel it’s perfect for each because of all the options, five tees on every hole. In a match-play tournament you could make (Nos.) 13 and 14 drivable, you wouldn’t do that in stroke play. It is surprisingly flexible golf course.

Herb Kohler
At 71, Kohler remains one of the most powerful figures in golf. (Getty Images) You were at the Open Championship and with your connection to the Old Course Hotel, I would be curious why you think St. Andrews is such a great major venue, both inside and outside the ropes, and can you bring that vibe to an American venue?

HK: What St. Andrews has is incredible history that goes back 300-400 years and you walk the course and the town and that history is all around you. People were playing golf on that piece of ground before they knew the world was round. You sit there on the balcony of your room looking over the 17th fairway and it is amazing. I have looked at it 50 times and every time it gives me goose bumps.

You can’t translate that to an American venue. We have other things. We have a course with great color and great options and great flexibility. A community that’s filled with charm.

If you built a course like that in the U.S. they would laugh you out of town. Imagine asking a pro to hit their driver on the second-to-last hole over a building? I ask this in the context of a man who has built a 7,500-yard golf course to host major championships and in light of the ongoing debate on Tour for more equipment rollbacks, do you think it is time for a bifurcation of the Rules of Golf between the professional and amateur games?

HK: The magic of golf is that we all play under the same set of rules. It’s the greatness of this game. So no, I hope the R&A and USGA never try to sort out a different sets of rules.

It is not the length of a drive that has won this championship. Louis (Oosthuizen) is a very good driver, but not a very big driver. He beat his opponents because of his ability to control his emotions and control his mistakes. With the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup scheduled on the Straits Course through 2020 it would seem to preempt the resort from hosting a U.S. Open in the foreseeable future, but you have hosted a U.S. Women’s Open and would fill an apparent Midwestern hole in the U.S. Golf Association rotation. Can you envision hosting a U.S. Open?

HK: We are very comfortable and pleased with the PGA of America. The PGA ends up with the greatest number of the best players in the world, and that is really something.

The other thing is the time of year in Wisconsin. All the fescues, as they wave in the wind, it is an extraordinary sight. You can’t get that in June.

I don’t long for anything. If one day my successors thought a U.S. Open would be a good test for this course, fine. But I am delighted with what I have and hope to keep going. In 2004 the PGA Championship was decided in a playoff between a long-hitter (Vijay Singh) and two relatively short hitters (Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard). Is that the ultimate compliment for a championship venue?

HK: Yes, Vijay was a power hitter, Chris was good all around, Justin had a good short game, but the key was they were all on their game.

The key for Vijay he was able to drive almost to the green at the 10th hole (in the playoff). That was the deciding shot in the playoff. He wasn’t sinking many putts, but he did sink that one.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.