Undisputed & Undefeated
Whistling Straits Still the Heavyweight Champion of the Midwest
Vast Seas of sand. Towering tee shots. Crashing surf. And sublime sunrises.
These are all part and parcel with the sensational experience known as Whistling Straits, the rightly renowned golf resort on Lake Michigan’s western shore, in the tiny town of Haven, Wisconsin.
Home to two terrific Pete Dye-designed championship tracks — the Irish Course and the Straits Course — Whistling Straits has been a fan favorite ever since it opened in 1998. Since then the Straits Course has hosted three PGA Championships, a U.S. Senior Open, and the epic 2021 Ryder Cup.
Thanks to the votes of our readers, the Straits has another notch on its heavyweight champion belt — as the repeat overall winner of our Best of the Midwest Awards.
The Straits is one of many fantastic fan favorites in this year’s awards, including Michigan’s Arcadia Bluffs, Illinois’ TPC Deere Run, and Indiana’s incredible Dye Course at French Lick Resort.
Congratulations to all our winners, and thanks to all who voted!
Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wis.
The Straits won its the second straight overall Best in the Midwest Award — and deservedly so. For those who’ve never been, it’s a simply sensational, supernatural place to play. A must-visit for any serious Midwest golfer.
Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wis.
Not surprisingly, the Straits Course took home the top spot in its home state, staving off the serious contenders of Sand Valley, SentryWorld, Erin Hills, Lawsonia and more.
TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Ill.
A longtime staple on the PGA Tour, the D.A. Weibring-designed TPC Deere Run is a first-time winner of the Best of the Midwest Awards, edging out perennial Chicago favorite Cog Hill for the Best in Illinois title.
The Dye Course at French Lick Resort, French Lick, Ind.
Carved out of the rolling hillside on the highest point in all of Indiana, the eponymous Pete Dye-designed Dye Course at French Lick Resort is simply a sight to behold, and a true treat (and test) for any golfer lucky enough to play there. It’s little wonder why the course lapped the field to win Best in Indiana once again.
Giants Ridge (Quarry), Biwabik, Minn.
Carved, as the name suggests, from an old iron quarry — as well as some of the Great North’s toughest timber and terrain — the Quarry Course at Giants Ridge has worked its ruggedly handsome way into the hearts of golfers throughout the Midwest. A top pick on a long line of “best of ” lists, it’s only fitting to find it as the winner of our Best in Minnesota category.
Arcadia Bluffs (Bluffs Course), Arcadia, Mich.
Seas of sand. Terrifying tee shots. Crashing surf. Sound familiar? Consider it the sunset-side “sister from another mister” of the Straits Course. While it may lack the Major pedigree of that course due west across the lake, Arcadia Bluffs is every bit as beautiful and thrilling, which is why it’s Michigan’s fan favorite by a lake-sized margin.
BEST NEW COURSE
The Club at Lac La Belle, Oconomowoc, Wis.
One of Wisconsin’s oldest golf clubs, this lovely lakeside track originally opened in 1896 as a private course. Fast-forward 125 years, and it’s been reborn as the Club at Lac La Belle, a public course and premier re-entry into the Midwest golf scene. Redesigned by Craig Haltom, the course closed for two years during the extensive, $5 million renovation, with the results certainly worthy of this year’s Best New or Renovated Course Award. It’s looking great headed into the next 125 years.
BEST PAR 3
The Straits Course No. 17, Haven, Wis.
Anyone who watched Jordan Spieth’s stupendous Ryder Cup shot from the shoreline, far below the Strait’s 17th green — which some- how defied physics to fly up, up and next to the pin — understands the terrifying beauty of this treacherous, 223-yard par 3 nicknamed, “Pinched Nerve.”
BEST PAR 4
Mammoth Dunes 14th, Nekoosa, Wis.
The risk. The reward. Did we mention the risk? That’s the calculation you must weigh when you play this delicious, devilish drivable par 4 at the sensational Sand Valley Resort. David McLay Kidd designed this downhill, 325-yard hole to tempt you into doing something super — or stupid, depending on how you perform. That’s why it’s been voted the Best Par 4 in the Midwest. Good luck!
BEST PAR 5
Arcadia Bluffs No. 11, Arcadia, Mich.
It’s one of the most picturesque par 5s on the planet, a stunning, 633-yard roller coaster culminating in a cliffside green, that melts away into the wide blue of Lake Michigan. It’s also your repeat winner as the Best Par 5 in the Midwest, and we couldn’t agree more.
With four Top-100 courses across two facilities, including the Straits, the Irish Course and Blackwolf Run, plus the luxurious American Club Resort Hotel, it’s little wonder Herb Kohler’s golf heaven was the overwhelming winner of our Best Destination category. While we’re spoiled with a treasure trove of great golf resorts in the Midwest, it certainly doesn’t get any better.
Erin Hills, Erin, Wis.
From the bag boys curbside, to the caddies on course and everyone in between, the service is the unheralded MVP of Erin Hills, by making you feel like an MVP every step of the way. Add in the 7,731 glorious green yards of world-class golf course, and you’ve got all the ingredients to make one of America’s best bucket-list courses.
BEST LUNCH AT THE TURN
Sand Valley, Nekoosa, Wis.
Sure, you can go with the bratwurst. It’s tried, it’s true, it’s tough to screw up, right? But if you want the best lunch at the turn in the Midwest, friends, you want some of Sand Valley’s pulled pork or chicken tacos (or both). These savory snacks are the perfect finger food to keep you going on the back nine, especially when you wash them down with one of the nine Nye’s ice cream sandwich flavors on hand!
BEST 19th HOLE
Arcadia Bluffs, Arcadia, Mich.
Grab your favorite drink, and saunter your way down the steps and out onto the lawn. Pull up one of the white Adirondack chairs lined in a row, facing due west, out toward the 18th green. As the sun slowly sinks into the wide blue of Lake Michigan beyond, reflect on your round in the company of friends. Feel the warm glow of the summer sunset on your face, as the bagpiper plays from the hill behind you. This, friends, is post-golf perfection, and once again the Midwest’s best 19th hole.
Luck of the Draw
Wisconsin’s Ryan Trautsch was the lucky winner of our grand prize drawing to French Lick Resort, who’s in for one of the best golf trips of his 25-year golfing career.
Trautsch has been around the game for quite awhile, and even worked for a few golf courses while in college. The Madison area resident primarily plays Prairie du Chien Country Club, where his parents live. Like any devoted golf fan in Wisconsin, he also attended the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits last fall.