Is Whistling Straits contrived


In May editors Brian Koressel and Erik Peterson had the opportunity to play the Straits Course at Whistling Straits. During their stroll along the banks of Lake Michigan they argued whether the course is contrived.


SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – I’m sure many people associate the word contrived with negative connotations, so I got out the dictionary:

– verb
1. to plan with ingenuity; devise; invent
2. to bring about or effect by a plan, scheme, or the like; manage
3. to plot (evil, treachery, etc.).

Well, as you can see, the first two are fine in my book. As for the third, I hardly think “evil” or “treachery” were on the mind of Herb Kohler and Pete Dye when creating this masterpiece on the edge of Lake Michigan.

Granted, the word “treachery” is abundant around this track, which has more than 1,000 bunkers dotting the landscape. If you hit into them, that’s your fault. Play better.

Otherwise, this “contrived” course is just flat-out one of the most visually stunning courses I have ever played. Never once did I stand on a tee box and think, “Hmm, I bet a bulldozer was involved at some point here on this hole.” No, the word that most came to mind at the start of each hole was simply, “Wow!”

And I’m pretty sure Kohler and Dye didn’t dig a big, giant hole on the east side of the course and dub it Lake Michigan when they created this gem.

Besides, who doesn’t love the St. Louis Arch, the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore? All were created by man – contrived – and all are absolute national treasures, much like Whistling Straits is fast-becoming to golfers lucky enough to walk the Kohler and Dye-inspired beauty.


SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Before we get into whether the Straits Course is contrived, I need to make it clear that contrived does not mean bad. In fact, contrived can be really, really awesome. What other explanation is there for things like plastic surgery and Cool Whip?

Is Whistling Straits contrived? You bet it is.

Before Herb Kohler got his hands on the property that became Whistling Straits, it was an abandoned airfield. Flat as a pancake. What’s wrong with that? Same thing that’s wrong with Florida: Most golf courses need elevation change to have character.

So what did Kohler do? He hired Pete Dye, King of Contrived, to inject the lifeless land with character.

At TPC Sawgrass Dye turned a swamp into a course that hosts golf’s 5th major. At PGA West and Paiute he built an oasis in the desert. His ability to turn a useless piece of land into something incredible is what’s made him the revered dirt-pusher he is today.

But let’s be honest, his most notable layouts could be the photo next to the definition of contrived in the dictionary. They’re all great courses, but contrived to the nth degree. And the Straits Course, with its grass-topped dunes and gnarly bunkers, is the most contrived of them all.

In all honesty, the Straits Course is one of the most spectacular layouts I’ve ever seen. Every hole has a wow-factor that’s unmatched at any resort course I’ve ever visited – including Pebble Beach. The views of Lake Michigan are incredible. On a sunny day, you can’t ask for a more incredible resort golf experience.

Contrived can indeed be beautiful. If you don’t believe me, just ask Hugh Hefner.