HAVEN, Wis. — As 40,000 to 50,000 fans descend on Whistling Straits to see the Ryder Cup, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation warns of a major slowdown leading into the tournament. The DOT is advising drivers to plan for at least an extra hour to get to Whistling Straits.
Senior golf writer for ESPN Bob Harig says even he was not prepared for the bottleneck.
“It was frustrating,” said Harig.
Harig knows a thing or two about the Ryder Cup. He has covered 10 of them. He says the traffic to Whistling Straits is among the worst he has seen.
“It has been taking about an hour to get here, which I think we are kind of used to and understand cause it is 50-60 miles. But I got here this morning and I was probably within five miles of the course by 6 a.m., and I didn’t get into the media center until 7:30,” said Harig.
The DOT public information officer for the Ryder Cup, Mark Kantola, warns it is going to be a slow drive in for people heading to the Ryder Cup. The issue is the two lane roads leading into the golf course. You have to take County Road FF to get to Whistling Straits. According to the DOT, the road averages about 680 cars a day. They are expecting that number to jump to 20,000.
“What happens is that local system added into Kohler that's going to backup. Even though they have a lot of parking lots, different staging areas where people go to get sprinkled around the entire course. Just like the PGA championship a few years ago, the systems like that aren't designed, especially local systems, county systems, aren't designed for the 50,000 people in flux,” Kantola.
The DOT says they have 110 State Troopers on 120 shifts working the Ryder Cup to manage the traffic. On top of that, 20 people from the DOT are monitoring traffic in real time.
To make the drive faster, the DOT has stopped all construction projects on I-43, though they still say you should expect 43 going to Kohler to be congested. Plus, Highways 42 and 32 are seeing a lot of extra traffic.
The biggest thing you can do if you are heading to the Ryder Cup is ignore your GPS when you get close to the course. Instead, watch the signs and message boards. They are being changed in real time by DOT traffic monitors to get drivers into the Ryder Cup as fast as possible.
“We have multiple message boards along all the routes, and drivers to the event will be able to see these message boards and be directed where they need to go based on how the highway is functioning capacity wise. So if we do see those queues on 43, we will be able to flip the message boards and tell event-goers to get off on this exit,” said Kantola.
Take it from pros like Harig, he says to expect the mornings to be the worst. He says it is because everyone wants to be in the same place at the same time.
“It is sort of inevitable when you are going to have - everyone wants to be at the Ryder Cup for the first tee shot. It is sort of the essence of the event. You want to be here early. There are only a few groups playing. It is not like a regular golf tournament. But I was a little surprised it took that long,” said Harig.
In addition to ignoring your GPS and following the signs when you near Whistling Straits, the DOT also says plan at least an extra hour to get to the course. Kantola also advises avoid I-43 this weekend and the area around the course if you are not heading there.