PGA Championship promises to be a hit

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


THE WANAMAKER CLUB along the ninth hole on the Straits Course is one of several on-course viewing facilities at the PGA Championship. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley THE WANAMAKER CLUB along the ninth hole on the Straits Course is one of several on-course viewing facilities at the PGA Championship. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley HAVEN — The 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits promises to be an exciting week for golf fans and the state of Wisconsin.

The final of men’s professional golf’s four majors began Monday and runs through Sunday, with practice rounds on the first three days and the championship rounds on Thursday through Sunday at the Straits Course. Whistling Straits, owned by the Kohler Co. and located just north of Sheboygan along Lake Michigan, also hosted the PGA Championship in 2004 and 2010.

“We are extremely excited to continue our partnership with the PGA of America in hosting our third PGA Championship. I think it shows the passion and com- mitment of the Kohler Co., the Kohler family and all involved that we, along with the state of Wisconsin, are an ideal venue for major championships,” said Jim Richerson, general manager and director of group golf for the Kohler Co.


THE 17TH HOLE VILLAGE, including the Sarazen Suites and chalets (left), will give spectators an excellent view on the Straits Course at the PGA Championship. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley THE 17TH HOLE VILLAGE, including the Sarazen Suites and chalets (left), will give spectators an excellent view on the Straits Course at the PGA Championship. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley Richerson pointed out the fi- nancial impact the PGA Championship will have on the area and the state.

“Southeast Wisconsin is really rolling out the welcome mat – from hotels to restaurants and local businesses – and we’re excited for a successful week,” said Richerson.

“The most recent and completed PGA Championship economic impact study with available data is from the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., which found the event had a positive economic impact of over $100 million on the state of New York.”

Richerson expects approximately 200,000 spectators this week for the tournament. The daily grounds tickets for Saturday’s and Sunday’s rounds are sold out. Only limited daily tickets remain available for the rounds on Thursday and Friday. Tickets for the practice rounds are still available.

Richerson is very pleased with the setup for the fans’ viewing experiences and the fans’ convenience in getting to the course. There are more corporate tents, skyboxes and chalets, and hospitality venues on the course than in the 2010 PGA.

“What can we provide that is new, how can we improve and make this Championship better than our previous Championships and what will everyone experience that is different from past Championships? With that in mind we worked with the PGA of America and completely redeveloped the spectator entrance – cutting roughly 25 percent of the time and distance it takes for a spectator to go from their car to the course to see live action,” Richerson pointed out.


THE LONG PAR-4 18th hole is expected to be one of the toughest holes on the Straits Course for the PGA Championship field. – Photo courtesy of the Kohler Co. THE LONG PAR-4 18th hole is expected to be one of the toughest holes on the Straits Course for the PGA Championship field. – Photo courtesy of the Kohler Co. “The entrance now has the Championship shops and the main sponsor fan-experience tents. All of the corporate chalets have been moved on course, offering views of multiple holes and Lake Michigan as a backdrop. I think corporate and ticketed spectators will really enjoy the changes to this year’s setup.”

Richerson talked about how challenging the Straits Course will be for the tourney field.

“The golf course is in fantastic condition right now heading into the Championship. The players will have every aspect of their games tested, with the hundreds of bunkers, to the 40-50-foot berms, to the knee-high rough and having to deal with the winds off of Lake Michigan,” he said.

“Players will have to be on their games the entire week in order to have a shot at the Wanamaker Trophy.”

A few changes have been made to the Straits Course over the 2010 PGA Championship.

“After every Championship [at Whistling Straits] we meet with Mr. [Herbert V.] Kohler [Kohler Co. executive chairman] and Pete Dye [Whistling Straits designer] and look at areas that we might be able to improve the course and offer additional challenges to the players,” said Richerson.

“We added an additional tee box, making the hole play longer, on the par-5 fifth hole – giving the players a slightly different look and angle to the hole.

“As well, we slightly modified the back portion of the green and the runoff on hole No. 8. This will present different recovery and short-game shots to the players if they miss the green long on this hole,” he pointed out.

Richerson offered his thoughts on what he thinks will be the toughest holes on the Straits Course for the PGA Championship field.

“Based on the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championships, the finishing holes will play as some of the toughest holes on the course,” he observed.

“Traditionally they play into the wind or a heavy crosswind. Number 15 is a 518-yard, par-4. Number 16 is a 559-yard, par-5. Number 17 is a 223-yard, par-3 and the finishing 18th hole, named Dyeabolical, is a 520-yard, par-4. These four holes are arguably the toughest finishing stretch in major championship golf.”

Richerson is very pleased with the work that Whistling Straits and PGA of America have done to prepare for the tournament.

“I think it has been a great partnership and teamwork to prepare the facility to once again play host to a world-wide audience and showcase all that Kohler Co., Sheboygan County and the state of Wisconsin have to offer,” he said.


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