Wisconsin golf scene exploding with high-profile development

By Matt GinellaFebruary 27, 2014, 6:24 am

As natural selection of American golf courses, architects and owners continues to identify the thrivers and survivors, one man continues to strap on his boots every day and goes to work. Having recently caught up with one of the most influential minds in the modern era of golf and architecture, I simply asked Pete Dye, 88, “What have you been up to lately?”

“I have a few projects I’m working on,” he said, as he took a break from a meeting at his home in Florida. His wife, Alice, had answered and passed the phone: “It’s the guy from the Golf Channel,” she said. And then she barked: “You can take the call, but not in here, go to your office.”

Pete Dye’s busy, but he’s not in charge. Not at home. Although in Sheboygan, Wisc., Herb Kohler has asked Dye to assess a piece of property that would be used for the fifth course at the American Club, of which the first four are all Dye designs.

“In my mind, he’s clearly the strongest living architect,” is what Kohler once told me about Dye. And according to Dye, Kohler might be close to “pulling the trigger” on what appears to be a response to Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon Dunes, moving in on Kohler’s turf.

Video: Ginella talks golf developments in Wisconsin, Michigan

Kohler already has Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, both of which have hosted major championships. And after looking all over the world for more property to develop into courses and resorts, including the southwest coast of Oregon - down the street from Keiser’s Bandon Dunes - Kohler’s now looking into developing his own backyard. “Herb’s been sitting on this property for years,” said Dye. “There would be four holes along Lake Michigan. I wish I could have more along the water. That’s always the case. I wish I could have six.”

And the retail golfer wishes it could be 16, but some is better than none.

Dye has built 81 courses in his decorated career, which includes the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town. “I’m too dumb,” he said. “I’ve actually gone out and built them all myself.” Which is exactly what Kohler appreciates about Dye. That he gets the man he hires, on property, shaping and making the decisions that go into building a golf course.

No one from Kohler’s camp returned multiple attempts for comment, but Keiser welcomed the idea of Kohler adding a fifth course to the American Club. “I’d be a fan,” said Keiser, who told me he plans on building three courses in the next eight years at the Wisconsin development he’s calling Sand Valley, located near Wisconsin Rapids, two and a half hours from Kohler. The first of Keiser’s courses will be built by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Preview play could be as soon as the summer of 2016.

“I’ve always loved golf in Michigan,” said Keiser. “But if it was close as to which state has better golf, it sounds like the nod is about to go to Wisconsin.”


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Mike Keiser's Sand Valley development will be located northwest of Erin Hills and Kohler. 


Meanwhile, Andy Ziegler, owner of Erin Hills, which will host the U.S. Open in 2017, will undoubtedly draft off the buzz of more golf in the area. Erin Hills is an hour from Kohler and a little more than two hours from Wisconsin Rapids.

“If you love golf, who wouldn’t want it?" said Ziegler. "Both have proven they know what they’re doing. It would be good for Erin Hills, but it would be great for golf in general.”

Asked if he would be inspired to add a second course, Ziegler said no. “We have land that resembles what we used for Erin Hills, but business is working well the way it is.” He said they’re considering adding holes, but he likes the idea of a short course or a par 3 course. “I like what they have at Pine Valley and Augusta National,” said Ziegler, who will add a fourth four-bedroom cottage at Erin Hills this summer.

As the Midwest endures one of the worst winters in over a century, the Wisconsin turf beneath the snow is becoming increasingly attractive to avid amateurs all over the world. And who in the industry wouldn’t want to see the partnership of Kohler and Dye ride again. Except for maybe Alice.

“Every time I do something, she tells me I’ve done it wrong,” said Dye.

“What do you say?” I asked.

“I tell her, ‘You’re right.’”

For a guy who told me he’s “too dumb,” Dye’s pretty smart.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.