Whistling Straits Course Guide: Ryder Cup 2020

The setting of the 2020 Ryder Cup has previously hosted three PGA Championship and the US Senior Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The setting of the 2020 Ryder Cup has previously hosted three PGA Championship and the US Senior Open

Whistling Straits Course Guide: Ryder Cup 2020

The 2020 Ryder Cup marks the 43rd edition of the biennial team competition between Europe and the United States, which Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin will host from September 24-26.

Europe are the current holders, after winning the match play event by seven points in Paris in 2018.

The tournament heads to the Straits Course, a links-style course sculpted along two miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Operated by The American Club and owned by the Kohler Company, Whistling Straits opened in 1998 and has two 36-hole courses at the club - the Straits Course and the Irish Course.

The Straits Course is where the Ryder Cup will be played.

Renowned architects Pete and Alice Dye constructed the championship standard par-71 course, which measures 7390 yards and has a course rating of 77.2.

In its short existence, Whistling Straits has hosted the 2004, 2010, and 2015 PGA Championships, plus the 2007 US Senior Open, meaning its pedigree is extremely high.

Eight holes hug the lake, while vast rolling greens, deep pot bunkers, grass-topped dunes and lake-sweeping winds encompass the course.

Whistling Straits Course Guide: Ryder Cup 2020

Of the 18 holes, five could prove pivotal in deciding the outcome of the Ryder Cup.

The fifth hole on the course requires a mixture of power and accuracy off the tee, and has the potential to either reward or punish a brave player.

Whistling Straits Hole 5 Ryder Cup

Hole 5 at Whistling Straits (Getty Images)

With water all the way up the right side off the tee, the brave line off the tee is to hug the right side to set up a shorter approach to the green.

A well struck mid-iron could see players hitting multiple birdies on this par-5, however, failure to execute an accurate shot could be punished by trouble short and left of the green.

Hole eight measures over 500 yards, and begins with a blind tee shot requiring a right to left shape.

Hole 8 Whistling Straits Course Guide

Hole 8 at Whistling Straits (Getty Images)

The severely sloping fairway from left to right ensures any balls moving that way will find either the thick rough, leave a tricky bunker shot, or reach Lake Michigan itself, while the expansive green means that club selection could prove pivotal.

An extremely challenging hole the entire way, hole 15 requires complete commitment to ensure a clear shot to the green, all the while trying to keep clear of the sunken sand dunes on the right.

The green is also guarded by bunkers and is heavily sloping, meaning hitting the par-4 on this hole sets up a good end to the round.

Whistling Straits Ryder Cup

Hole 15 at Whistling Straits (Getty Images)

The final two holes at Whistling Straits are arguably two of the hardest finishing holes in world golf.

Hole 17 leaves no room for error, with the railway sleepers holding up the green on the left side a trademark of Pete Dye's golf course design, acting as a face to the sand traps should a player miss the green to the left.

The steep hillside loaded with bunkers makes this hole extremely treacherous, and could end up deciding the championship if a player's nerves get the better of them.

Hole 17

Hole 17 at Whistling Straits (Getty Images)

A large green also means par isn't guaranteed on this hole, and will provide an unwelcome challenge.

Nicknamed "Dyeabolical", hole 18 is as exactly as it sounds.

A drive is required up the right side of the fairway, but with the fairway running away into the rough and sand, too long a drive will see balls end up there.

A mid-to long-iron approach to the green awaits the player thereafter, which sits inside of a natural amphitheatre sure to be filled with thousands of spectators.

Hole 18

Hole 18 at Whistling Straits (Getty Images)

Seven Mile Creek also guards the huge green, which measures over 18,000 square feet, meaning ball placement is critical.

One of America's most revered golf course, Golf Digest ranked Whistling Straits 21st on America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.


Ryan has worked as a junior staff writer for Golf Monthly since 2021.