The Saga Of Blackwolf Run Revisited
Before there was Whistling Straits,
there was Blackwolf Run.
Built in 1988, the River and Meadow
Valleys courses were the first two in Herb
Kohler’s portfolio. But they lost favorite-child status to the newer course a few miles
to the East in Sheboygan, Wis. It’s hard to
compete with Whistling Straits’ views of the
sun glistening off Lake Michigan.
Indeed, Whistling Straits is spectacular, but don’t go diminishing Blackwolf
Run by comparison.
It will be good to see Blackwolf Run
back in the spotlight this week. A combination of the two courses will play host to
the U.S. Women’s Open, with first-round
play beginning on Thursday.
It will be the second Women’s Open at
Blackwolf. Se Ri Pak won the 1998 tournament in a playoff against Jenny Chuasiriporn.
Both courses are outstanding in their
own right, placing high on the various ratings lists. The River, meandering through
the various streams on the property, is
dazzling, especially in the fall when the
colors are in all their splendor. The Meadow
Valleys winds through meadows (hence the
name) and across ravines, reflecting the
natural features of the Wisconsin terrain.
Blackwolf always will have a special
place in Kohler’s heart. It is where he got
started in golf and how he hooked up with
his close friend and sometime nemesis,
architect Pete Dye.
When Kohler decided his luxury Ameri-
can Club Resort needed to add golf to its
amenities in the 1980s, he went looking
for a designer.
Recalling the difficulty, Pak told So Yeon
Ryu, the defending Women’s Open champion, that there will be holes on which bogey
is an acceptable score. Otherwise, you run
the risk of posting a high number.
“I still remember every single hole as
being so much work,” Pak said. “And now
it has more distance. So that’s going to
make it harder.”
Pak’s Open truly ushered in a new era
for women’s golf. Back in 1998, there were
only three South Koreans in the field.
There were 35 players from her native
country in last year’s Open.
Kohler and Dye also have come a long
way in golf and as friends. Kohler remembers their first meeting.
“Pete came to town, couldn’t believe
how small we were, couldn’t believe we
could justify a golf course,” Kohler said.
“And off we went.”
They haven’t stopped since. l