Does this show a depending American love affair with links courses? Is it wise to play a Ryder Cup over land more typical of Britain than the host country?
When the action concludes at the spectacular Whistling Straits at the end of the US PGA Championship of 2015, UK television viewers need only be saying goodbye to this glorious landscape of this small part of Wisconsin for a while. The Ryder Cup is coming here in 2020.
Whistling Straits has been awarded several top tournaments in its comparatively short life.
The PGA of America selected The Straits at Whistling Straits as the site of the 1999 Club Professional Championship, even before the course had opened.
This championship was played sat The Straits course within a year of the course’s opening. It was attended by 18,000 spectators, a record gallery for this tournament.
Then in January 2000, after the course has been open only two seasons, it was announced that the Straits course would host the 2004 USPGA Championship.
“Whistling Straits will provide the perfect test for the world’s best golfers,” said PGA President Will Mann. “It already has proven itself worthy of a Major championship and will be held in esteem for generations to come.”
Another Major, a senior one, came its way in 2007, the US Senior Open. Then the USPGA Championship came again, in 2010.
The two courses at Whistling Straits are noticeable for their un-American feel. They are a carefully manufactured homage to the historic links course of the British Isles. The land had imported and sculpted to give it a links feel. It was once flat farmland and an antiaircraft training facility.
A flock of Scottish blackface sheep was also imported, to roam the fairways in season “as might be encountered on a country course in the British Isles“.
Seven thousand truckloads of sand – about 105,000 cubic yards – were brought to the site. Maintenance of the bunkers is left, on the whole, to the elements not the greenkeepers.
The US Open of 2015 was also held at a links-style, walking-only course, Chambers Bay. Here Robert Trent Jones Jr. also modelled the layout on the traditional linksland ones. To this end he moved over 1.4 million cubic yards of the existing terrain.
Does this show a depending of the love affair Americans have with links courses? Is this love so blind that they are prepared to play a Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits over terrain more typical of Britain than the host country?
Does this not give the visiting team, many of them who grew up playing links courses in their early years on the amateur circuit, an advantage?
Mind you, the Irish course at Whistling Straits hosted the 2005 Palmer Cup, an annual Ryder Cup-style competition between US. collegiate players and their European counterparts. The American team won.