Wisconsin offers golf lovers and wellness seekers the best of both worlds
My alarm chimed at 6 a.m., raising me from plush, luxurious bedding at The American Club, the Midwest’s only AAA and Forbes Five Star resort in Kohler, Wisconsin. Unlike most other mornings (I am a night owl), I opened my eyes immediately and swung my feet from underneath the comforter. I had to get downstairs in 20 minutes to catch the shuttle to Whistling Straits, the resort’s nearby Irish-style golf course, and time was of the essence, especially if I wanted to see the course before it was inundated with golfers. That was the moment I knew I was enamored by the quaint town. I had woken up early after a long day of travel simply to see a golf course, something I had never given two thoughts to.
The town is the headquarters of Kohler Company, the iconic kitchen and bath manufacturer that owns The American Club. In 1918, the property housed Kohler factory workers and was given its name to instill a sense of American pride in the employees, who were largely immigrants. The historic structure was reimagined in 1981 and became a luxury hotel. It has been updated regularly since then with the most recent renovation completed in 2018.
Come September, the town of Kohler will host the Ryder Cup, one of the premier PGA events. The tournament is a battle for the cup but also for biennial bragging rights. Twentyfour of the top players in the U.S. and Europe play in head-to-head matches. Since the 2020 tournament will be held at Whistling Straits, I had to see it. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the clubhouse, a rustic rubble stone Irish farmhouse with staggering views of Lake Michigan, complemented by the rolling hills of the course. Scanning the distance as the wind tickled my hair, I felt transported to Ireland. Morning dew topped the grass and mist hovered. While I didn’t see them myself, the course has a flock of blackface Scottish sheep that roam freely as if they were meandering the British Isles. This was an enchanting place.
Guests of The American Club can book tee times at any of the four courses: The Meadow Valleys and The River in Blackwolf Run, or The Irish and The Straits in Whistling Straits. Each course was designed by Pete Dye, a legendary golf course designer.
While I didn’t swing any golf clubs that day, I did spend a few blissful hours at Kohler Waters Spa at The American Club. In a co-ed sanctuary, guests can dip in and out of a plunge pool, lounge on the enclosed rooftop deck and receive immersive therapeutic water treatments. I opted for a hydrotherapy service, the Hydro Rock Treatment, where my massage was accompanied by a Kohler Vichy shower. Another activity not to be missed: River Wildlife, an on-property, 500-acre wilderness preserve with self-guided salmon fishing expeditions, canoe and kayak rentals and pheasant hunting.
Just a 90-minute flight from Atlanta, plus a 50-minute drive from Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, the Wisconsin town offers an easy escape to stately comfort. The 241 guest rooms at The American Club are outfitted with rich, wood-toned furniture and top-of-the-line amenities, including Kohler bathroom fixtures.
The resort offers 15 dining options, ranging from casual bites and beer at the Horse and Plow pub to elegant, American-meets-European cuisine at The Immigrant Restaurant with its 1,000-bottle wine list. Before my autumn visit, the property hosted its premiere annual event, Kohler Food and Wine, where celebrity chefs such as Food Network star Maneet Chauhan showcased their skills during the four-day ticketed spectacular.
If golf, good food and wine and relaxation can’t convince you of a quick getaway to this charming town, maybe you’ll be lured by the weather. Average summer temperatures hover between the 70s and 80s with lows dipping into the 50s. It’s a great place to escape Atlanta heat throughout summer and fall.
THE AMERICAN CLUB
Photos: Destination Kohler
Wellness columnist at Simply Buckhead and dog columnist at Atlanta Pet Life. Lifestyle writer specializing in women's interests, travel, people and interiors.