Whistling Straits Hosts 2015 PGA Championship

Midwest venue offers links-Style course, jaw-dropping scenery.
 
The 2015 PGA Championship returns to our neck of the woods: the Straits course at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, August 13-16. The site has held numerous professional tournaments, including the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championships and the 2007 U.S. Senior Open. In 2020, it is scheduled to host the Ryder Cup.
 
Befitting its status as one of this year’s four PGA Tour majors, the Straits will challenge every aspect of the pros’ games.
 
“This is a very challenging golf course. It’s long, close to 7,800 yards from the tips, with fast greens. We have a number of 500-yard-plus par fours that will be even tougher depending on the wind,” said Mike O’Reilly, head professional at Whistling Straits.
 
Situated nine miles north of the village of Kohler, the course has numerous holes that feature Lake Michigan as a backdrop and the look and feel of a links course, with plenty of bunkers and dunes to capture errant shots.
 
Favors the Straight and Long
 
As one can imagine, a course such as the Straits favors players who hit their shots – especially tee shots – long and straight. Since the Ryder Cup last year, few have hit it truer than the world’s number-one golfer, Rory McIlroy. He is averaging over 305 yards on his drives and is hitting nearly seven out of 10 fairways. A lot of the credit belongs to his Nike Vapor Pro driver. It wasn’t even supposed to be a commercially available driver. After hitting it a few times, however, Rory decided he wanted it in his bag.
 
I’d say that was a great decision. As of the middle of May, Rory had two wins and five top ten finishes for the 2015 PGA season, which began last October. He is ranked number one in total driving and ball striking.
 
The Vapor Pro is one of three lines of drivers Nike introduced last year. Popular with golfers of all levels is the company’s Vapor Speed driver. It’s designed to deliver optimal distance and low aspin by combining FlyBeam technology with a NextCor face and spreading the weight across the head and toe. It further features the company’s FlexLoft 2 for 15 different launch options.
 
I tested it at my local Dunham’s Sports and found it to deliver consistent distance, even on off-center hits. Assisted by the store’s golf expert, I was able to dial in a launch option that maximized carry distance and minimized spin. Unlike drivers of even a few years ago, today’s version come pretty close to being considered custom-fit. That’s why it’s important to work with the golf professional at your local Dunham’s Sports to make sure the driver is specifically tuned to your swing.
 
Play Where The Pros Play
 
If you want to play where the pros play, Whistling Straits and its sister course, the Irish, are available to the public (excluding August 1-18). Also available are two other world-class courses: The River and The Meadow Valleys at Blackwolf Run. Their diversity ensures an enjoyable playing experience for golfers of various levels.
 
Whether you decide to test your mettle at the Straits or any of the three other courses, O’Reilly offers the following suggestion: “When Pete Dye designed the Straits, he wanted to test the best players while making the course playable for average players. The result is a course that is visually intimidating, but playable, with generous fairways. The key is to make sure you are playing the appropriate tees.”
 
O’Reilly recommends the blue tees for better players (5-10 handicap) and the green or white tees for those with a 15 handicap.
 
For information about playing any of the courses mentioned or attending the 2015 PGA Championship, visit www.americanclubresort.com/golf.
 
Wear What the Pros Wear
 
If you’re going to play where the pros play, it only makes sense to dress like they do. Thankfully, Dunham’s Sports has you covered with a wide range of products, styles and colors for men and women.
 
Most of us can’t hit a ball like Rickie Fowler, but we can wear the same Puma shirts. Be sure to also check out the company’s shorts and skorts. Dunham’s Sports also carries clothing from PGA Tour, Nike, Callaway, Canyon Creek, Under Armour, Greg Norman, Taylor Made, Adidas and many more.
 
Some come with a built-in Ultraviolet Protection Factor to help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and nearly all feature patented technology to wick moisture away, keeping you cooler.
 
No matter which manufacturer you choose, we’re certain you’ll be a hit on and off the course.
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last six years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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