For most golfers, the chance to play the site of this year's Ryder Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But for Patrick Koenig, playing Whistling Straits is part of his job description. The Wisconsin State Golf Association hired him for its '#1 Golf Internship in the World.'
And that means playing golf, a lot of it, and getting paid for it. Koenig is 41 years old and a professional golf course photographer from California. He's one of two interns the WSGA hired to play the state's golf courses this year, to highlight the sports' multi-billion-dollar industry, leading up to the Ryder Cup.
He told our Susan Kim he loves everything about Whistling Straits, and that "this may be one of the most beautiful golf courses in America. With all the sand, and interesting lies, the challenge is ever present." That challenge includes the wind that Whistling Straits is known for, as it sits right along Lake Michigan.
Koenig was one of 200 people who applied for the internship position, and got the job through his social media skills as @pjkoenig on Instagram along with his photography work and job application, where he listed his ex-wife as a reference to vouch for his love of the game.
Koenig says "she had no comment." Rob Jansen, Executive Director of the WSGA, says the "the program exceeded all of my expectations. The courses have loved the exposure and the great images that we’ve sent them from Patrick (and Bobbi)." Bobbi Stricker is the other intern.
She played golf near her hometown for UW-Madison, and is the daughter of professional golfer and Ryder Cup captain, Steve Stricker.
Since beginning his internship in mid-July, Koenig has played 65 courses, from neighborhood courses to the big names like Whistling Straits, Sand Valley, and SentryWorld. Koenig says the great thing about golf in Wisconsin is that the majority of the best courses are mostly public.
"If you have cash in your wallet, you can come out here and play Whistling Straits. That's not the case in a lot of places, especially California. Most of the great courses out there are private."
Koenig can't say which course was his favorite yet. He'll have to sit down and think about it when he's all done. But he did say he really enjoyed Eagle Springs, a 9-hole course in Eagle, Wisconsin with a 'Volcano' hole. He says he felt he had discovered a hidden gem.
As a golfer, he's excited to play the Straits course again because the Ryder Cup will be there in a couple of weeks. Koenig says "there's nothing bigger. It's kind of like having the Super Bowl in town." The WSGA paid Koenig $10 an hour and covered his expenses.
By the time he finishes his internship next week, he'll have played 70 courses in 50 days. Koenig also embraced Wisconsin staples, brats and cheese, while he's here. He's consumed 17 brats so far and about 14 pounds of cheese, "mostly curds, mostly fried."