The American Club

View our
special offers

Discover The American Club’s Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run courses, which were both designed by renowned golf course architect Pete Dye.

timeline icon

The American Club Resort’s golf heritage dates back to the 1980s.

VIEW TIMELINE

Guests at The American Club are invited to try championship golf on any of its four courses, which have been rated among the world’s greatest. Some of golf's most talented professionals have even graced them over the years, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Annika Sörenstam. The first to open was Whistling Straits, a 36-hole links-style golf course formed out of two smaller ones—the Straits and Irish Courses. Herbert Kohler Jr.—the CEO of Kohler Company—hired Dye and his wife, Alice, to spearhead the creation of Whistling Straits during the early 1980s. Drawing inspiration from historic golf clubs in the British Isles, the couple proceeded to craft each course along the majestic shoreline of Lake Michigan. Indeed, eight of the holes affiliated with Whistling Straits ran directly up to the lake itself. Its proximity to the water meant that few trees and other kinds of vegetation were present, enabling the Dyes to create incredibly spacious, rolling fairways. The space further empowered the Dye family to craft an amazing array of deep-pot bunkers and grass-topped dunes that allowed for a challenging, yet enjoyable play experience. Whistling Straits immediately became popular upon its debut in 1981, prompting the Kohler Company to add another one several years later. Known as “Blackwolf Run,” the Dyes returned to design its amazing fairways and greens. The Dyes specifically separated the complex into two, nine-hole courses called “River” and “Meadow Valley,” respectively. The two courses nonetheless featured picturesque qualities, such as gorgeous views of the Sheboygan River that cut through the location. Just like its sibling, Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run gained praise for its landscaping after its unveiling in 1988. In fact, Golf Digest magazine even declared Blackwolf Run to be that year’s “Best New Public Course” due to its fantastic layout. (Blackwolf Run was later expanded into a 36-hole facility over the next two years.)

Both Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run have since earned numerous accolades, including admiration by such renowned institutions like Golf Magazine. Perhaps the greatest testimony to their considerable reputation has been the many official competitions that they have hosted. For instance, Whistling Straits held the 86th PGA Championship in 2004, which saw the great Vijay Singh defeat Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco in an exciting three-hole playoff. Then in 2010, Martin Kaymer then beat Bubba Watson during yet another thrilling playoff on the course amid the 92nd PGA Championship. Whistling Straits hosted its third PGA Championship—the 97th—five years later. Jason Day won his first major tournament with a total score of 268, then the lowest score ever recorded in relation to par. But Jordan Spieth finished three strokes behind Day, solidifying his status as the best international golfer at the time. Whistling Straits was also the site of the 28th U.S. Senior Open, where Brad Bryant outdueled the legendary Tom Watson. Blackwolf Run has seen its fair share of thrilling tournament play, too, including two U.S. Women’s Opens. In 1998, the course hosted the 53rd U.S. Women’s Open, which took place over the Fourth of July weekend. Se Ri Park beat American amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn, becoming the youngest woman to win two major championships in the same year. Na Yeon Choi walked away with the title when the competition came back in 2012, who beat Amy Yang by four strokes. Professional golf continues to be played at The American Club, as Whistling Straits hosted the 43rd Ryder Cup Matches in September 2021. Captained by Steve Stricker, the American team managed to recapture the Ryder Cup from Europe with a record 19-9 victory score. The United States’ victory was the largest margin seen at the tournament since the 17th Ryder Cup Matches!

  • About the Location +

    Like The American Club, the Village of Kohler can trace its heritage to the Kohler Company and its founder, John Michael Kohler. An immigrant from Austria, Kohler had originally established the business upon purchasing the Sheboygan Union Iron and Steel Foundry alongside Charles Silberzahn for a sum of just $5,000. (He had obtained the entire complex from his father-in-law, Jacob Vollrath.) But within a matter of years, the Austrian émigré had managed to buyout Silberzahn, becoming the sole proprietor of the foundry. Renaming the business after his family name, Kohler set about overseeing the manufacture of various cast iron and steel items that included everything from farming equipment to cemetery monuments. Yet, the fate of the business changed forever when Kohler invented a way to apply an enamel coating onto a cast-iron horse trough. The breakthrough enabled Kohler’s factory to create a line of luxurious bathroom and kitchen appliances, with its most notable product being bathtubs. The Kohler Company soon established itself as one of the preeminent manufacturers of plumbing fixtures in the United States by the dawn of the 20th century. Its operations had grown so large that it led John Michael Kohler to relocate the factory a few miles to the east of Sheboygan on several hundred acres of undeveloped land. Yet, the business was not without its hardships, though. The entire complex suffered from fires, with the most recent one transpiring in 1901. In the aftermath of the latest inferno, the company’s president, Robert J. Kohler—one of John Michael Kohler’s sons—endeavored to build back stronger than ever. His brother, Walter J. Kohler, continued the work when he became president after the former’s death in 1905.

    A visionary, Walter J. Kohler aspired to do more than just rebuild the factory—he envisioned a company town raised around the new facility that catered to the every need of his employees. Kohler particularly held a humanitarian interest with the poor, aspiring greatly to improve their condition whenever possible. As such, he believed that his planned community would both provide cozy affordable housing and direct access to jobs at the Kohler Company. Shortly after his appointment as the company’s president, Kohler went on a grand journey of Europe with his friend, Richard Phillips, who also happened to be an architect. Together, the two men reviewed the architectural style of the continent, specifically England and its famous gardens communities. When they returned, Kohler tasked Phillips with designing the layout of the new town based on the principles they observed overseas. Over the next several decades, Phillips and his firm—“Brust and Phillips”—worked hard to create the settlement, which Walter J. Kohler took to calling “Kohler Village.” Brust and Phillips itself was one of the most prominent architectural firms in the state, specializing in various revivalist design aesthetics. Perhaps the greatest building constructed in Kohler Village at the time was The American Club, created to serve as a home for single foreign men without any connections in greater Sheboygan County. Immigrants from all over began to arrive in Kohler Village, mainly Dutch, German, and Russian families that were interested in working for the Kohler Company. (Sheboygan County had been a destination for European immigrants since the early 19th century, attracting thousands of people from abroad due to the presence of heavy industry nearby.) Today, Kohler Village is a wonderful vacation retreat just moments away from the tranquil waters of Lake Michigan.


  • About the Architect +

    Pete Dye: Hailed as the most influential golf architect of the last half-century, architect Pete Dye has left a legacy on the golfing world. An avid golfer from a young age, Dye first played the sport competitively while in high school. He continued to golf when he enlisted in the United States military upon graduating. While stationed at Fort Bragg, Dye worked as the greenskeeper for the base’s golf course. He also met the prominent Donald Ross, who was then still serving as the main professional at Pinehurst Resort. The meeting greatly affected Dye’s passion for the game, which he kept following as an student at Rollins College. He subsequently met Alice Holliday O’Neal and the two were married not long thereafter. They eventually moved to her hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, where he got a job selling policies with The Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. Even though Ross thrived in insurance, he still loved golf dearly. He thus entered into numerous amateur championships in Indiana during the 1950s and built a considerable reputation for himself. He even used the experience to eventually compete in the 57th U.S. Open. Although Dye failed to advance deep in the tournament, he still finished ahead of future greats Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. In 1961, Dye decided to leave the insurance industry behind to pursue his passion for golf full-time. With close support of his wife, Dye specifically formed his own golf landscaping firm. Dye’s very first project involved creating a magnificent nine-hole course called “El Dorado,” which became notorious for its water hazards.

    However, his first big project transpired when he obtained the commission to craft the marvelous 18-hole course at Crooked Stick Golf Club. Receiving rave reviews, Dye was soon earning numerous commissions all over the United States. Many of his designs soon became incredibly popular, including Harbour Town Golf Links, Whistling Straits, and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. His greatest accomplishment was the TPC at Sawgrass’ Stadium Course. Noted for its great difficulty, his par-three 17th hole has since been referred to as the “world’s most terrifying tee shot.” Much of Dye’s designs were inspired by Scottish design principles, namely the use of pot bunkers, wooden bulkheads, and small greens. But Dye also invented his own fascinating greenskeeping practices, too, such as the implementation of railroad ties to help hold down bunkers. Among the many other courses that Dye designed with such principles were The American Club’s two fantastic 36-hole golf courses, Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run. With help from his wife, Alice, Dye implemented his iconic landscaping techniques while creating both courses. The two destinations specifically showcased his affinity for pot bunkers and tight, rolling greens. When both Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run debuted in the 1980s, they quickly became some of his most popular designs. Indeed, they eventually inspired the United States Golf Association and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America to host future tournaments at each location years later.


  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Vijay Singh, winner of three major golf championships that include the Masters Tournament and the PGA Championship.

    Tom Watson, winner of eight major golf championships that include the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, and the British Open.

    Ernie Els, winner of four major golf championships, including the U.S. Open and the British Open.

    Tiger Woods, winner of 15 major golf championships and winner of the PGA Player of the Year a record 11 times.

    Phil Mickelson, winner of five major golf championships, including the Masters Tournament and the PGA Championship.

    Pádraig Harrington, winner of three major championships and captain to six consecutive Ryder Cup teams.

    Rory McIlroy, winner of four major golf championships, including the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, and the British Open.

    Laura Davies, winner of four major LGPA championships, including the U.S. Women’s Open, the Women’s PGA Championship, and the du Maurier Classic.

    Annika Sörenstam, winner of 10 major LPGA championships, including the U.S. Women’s Open, the Women’s British Open, the Women’s LPGA Championship, and the ANA Inspiration.

    Karrie Webb, winner of six major LPGA championships, including the ANA Inspiration, the Women’s PGA Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open, the Women’s British Open, and the du Maurier Classic.

    Inbee Park, winner of seven major LPGA championships, including the ANA Inspiration, the Women’s PGA Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open, and the Women’s British Open.

    Pat Bradley, winner of six major LPGA championships, including the ANA Inspiration, the Women’s PGA Championship, the U.S Women’s Open, and the du Maurier Classic.

    Hollis Stacy, winner of four major LPGA championships, including the U.S. Women’s Open and the du Maurier Classic.

    Jan Stephenson, winner of three major LPGA championships, including Women’s PGA Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open, and the du Maurier Classic.


  • Women in Golf +

    Annika Sörenstam: One of the many professional golfers to compete at Blackwolf Run, Annika Sörenstam is regarded today as one of the best golfers in history. Born in Sweden, Sörenstam first picked up golf while playing with her family at country clubs around Stockholm. She subsequently received her first set of clubs at the age of 12 and began practicing regularly as a teenager. Perhaps her greatest struggle was overcoming her shy demeanor—Sörenstam would actually perform poorly on the final hole of amateur tournaments just so she would not have to give her victory speech. Nevertheless, Sörenstam became an eventual force on the amateur circuit, attracting the attention of golf coaches from the University of Arizona. She enrolled at the school and used the experience to begin what would become an incredible professional golfing career. While her first few competitions did not go as planned, Sörenstam eventually won the Holden Women’s Australian Open in 1994. She also managed to receive the LPGA Rookie of the Year award for a few top three finishes, including a tie for second at the Women’s British Open. But Sörenstam’s real emergence came when she finished at the top of the 50th U.S. Women’s Open in 1995. Shooting a 68 on The Broadmoor’s East Course, Sörenstam defeated the talented Meg Mallon by just a single stroke. The victory subsequently heralded the beginning of Sörenstam’s legendary career, which saw her win nine more major LGPA championships until her professional retirement in 2008. She also became the recipient of six Vare Trophies, as well as eight Player of the Year awards. Sörenstam even holds several professional records, too, including the lowest season scoring average for a female golfer. Few are as talented and accomplished as Annika Sörenstam.

    Karrie Webb: Another one of the best professional golfers to ever grace The American Club’s fairways was Karrie Webb. An Australian from Queensland, Webb began pursuing golf at the age of eight. She was soon competing in local amateur competitions not long thereafter, and she eventually joined the Ladies European Tour during the early 1990s. Winning the organization’s European Rookie of the Year award, Webb then decided to enter the LPGA Tour in 1996. She subsequently won numerous accolades for her unrivaled style of play, including the LPGA Rookie of the Year title and a coveted Vare Trophy. (She also had the distinction of being the first rookie to receive over a million dollars in purse earnings.) The culmination of her work finally transpired when she won her first major tournament on the LPGA Tour—the du Maurier Classic in 1999. The victory catapulted her to the forefront of the professional golfing world, as evidenced by her first ever designation as the LPGA Tour Player of the Year. Webb proceeded to win six more major LPGA competitions over the next six years, including two ANA Inspirations, two U.S. Women’s Opens, and one Women’s PGA Championship. (She had also won the Women’s British Open twice in 1995 and 2002, respectively. Her victory in 1995 is not often counted in the total, since the Women’s British Open was still considered an amateur tournament at the time.) In total, Webb has earned a total of 41 victories on the LPGA Tour. She received additional accolades in recognition of her skill as well, such as two more Vare Trophies and another LPGA Tour Player of the Year awards. Webb was even inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2005.

    Inbee Park: Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Inbee Park is among the most accomplished golfers to have ever compete at The American Club. Like most of her colleagues, Park started practicing golf as a child. Quickly developing an affinity for the sport, she soon decided to play professionally. Park subsequently relocated to the United States at the age of 12 in order to become a professional golfer. She quickly developed a terrific reputation over the following years, winning several high-profile competitions affiliated with the American Junior Golf Association. The highlight of her success transpired when she recorded top finishes at the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Girls’ Junior in the early 2000s. Park finally got her chance to compete on the professional circuit in 2007, coming in fourth at the U.S. Women’s Open. Although she won the tournament the following year, Park’s real success did not arrive until she won three different major championships in 2013—the ANA Inspiration, the Women’s PGA Championship, and a second U.S. Women’s Open. In fact, the feat resulted in her earning a “Career Grand Slam,” something that only six other female golfers had achieved to date. The victories helped place her on the short list of the top female golfers active in the world at the time! Park won even more tournaments over the next two years, specifically two additional Women’s PGA Championships, as well as a Women’s British Open. In that brief span of time, Park received numerous accolades for her performances, including two Vare Trophies and an LPGA Player of the Year award. She even went on to win a gold medal in the women’s individual golf tournament during the 2016 Summer Olympics!


Special Offer

Optional Push

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Learn More

Sign up for our Newsletter

Partners

  • HHW Logo
  • NTHP Logo
  • AA Logo
  • WHHA Logo
  • STE Logo