HAVEN, Wisconsin — The eyes of the world are on Whistling Straits in Sheboygan County this week, as golf stages one of its grandest spectacles, the Ryder Cup. The golf course is built on a stunning landscape — a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Fans, commentators, and players rave about its beauty. The challenge of making sure the course is ready for its closeup falls to a staff of about 120 greenskeepers.
“That's what we work for you know,” said Chris Zugel, Director of Course Maintenance at Destination Kohler. “We get here early in the morning. You tell the guys the entire world is going to see our property and all your work.”
The “work” doesn’t just occur in the days or even weeks leading up to the event.
“When you watch it on TV it's not necessarily just, done, starting Tuesday,” Zugel explained. We've been preparing for it for 15 years as well.”
While it’s important that the course looks pretty, Zugel and his team also work closely with Team USA to make sure the course plays to their advantage.
“We talked with Steve [Stricker, Team USA Captain] and the PGA of America, and just kind of went through the golf course,” Zugel said. “It's match play, so you're not protecting par so much. It's a little bit more of a Super Bowl of golf, where you want action. You want fun, and I think, that's what's going to happen out there.”
In the moments he has to relax and look around, Zugel does find great appreciation for what course architect, the late Pete Dye, built in cooperation with the Kohler Company. “Mr. Kohler and Pete Dye created a masterpiece out here and it's pretty special to be a part of everything that's happening this week.”
Zugel’s work doesn’t end when the Ryder Cup wraps up Sunday.
Whistling Straits is public golf course, and it reopens to play already next week. For information on tee times : https://www.destinationkohler.com/golf/whistling-straits