US OPEN 2017 and Midwest Tour
A spectacular US Open, a stunning location and a superb trip to the Midwest.
The trip started at the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel, located in the heart of Chicago's Magnificent Mile. The Blackstone was a destination for Chicago's rich and famous in the early 1900s. Decadently renovated, it remains a top pick to this day.
Our first game of golf was at the renowned Cog Hill Golf and Country Club. We played Course No 4, Dubsdread, where the PGA's BMW Championship was held from 2009 to 2011.
As we were in the "Blues Capital of the World" we couldn't miss the opportunity to spend a little time at the Chicago Blues Festival.
We headed north along the west coast of Lake Michigan to the Wisconsin golfing paradise in the Sheboygan region. After lunch at Blackwolf Run, we stopped by the Kohler Academy to fine tune our golf swings before our round on the Pete Dye designed River Course. The course's natural beauty matched the challenge of navigating the strategically placed bunkers, water, and gorges across 14 holes, alongside the unforgiving fescue.
The world's tallest flagpole flying the American flag, as seen from the River Course. Reaching 400 feet, it towers high above the treetops.
Whistling Straits is arguably the greatest championship course in the United States. It most certainly lived up to its reputation. Golfing on a foggy morning had us reliant on our caddies for direction to the flag.
No carts or buggies at the Straits, but you do get the benefit of excellent caddies to carry your bag, and spot your ball.
Always a relief to get to green after carefully navigating bunkers and fescue.
In Kohler, we stayed at the American Club. Once a dormitory for immigrant employees, with a pub, bowling alley, and barbershop, it re-emerged in 1981 as a full-service five star hotel.
Our last game at Kohler was on the Meadow Valley course. The back nine holes were most players' favorite, in spite of the fierce and challenging fescue for those who ventured off the fairways.
Dinner in Milwaukee
We had an incredible dinner at Wolf Peach. The restaurant's unusual name is based on the early name for the tomato in Europe. We enjoyed the rustic European menu, coupled with the enormous list of local beers.
Day 6 -
We had numerous Aussies to follow and support on the first day at Erin Hills, which made the day special. Faced with some serious heat, we were glad for the 1895 Club which provided a reprieve from the heat, a chance to grab a drink, lather on the sunscreen, and venture back to the grandstand with an ice-cream.
We were due for a break from playing or watching golf. We spent the day cruising Lake Geneva, and checked out the hundreds of mansions dotted on the shore line.
Black Point Estate, the summer home of Chicago beer magnate Conrad Seipp, took us back in time to the gilded age of old Chicago.
Relaxing after lunch at The Pier, Lake Geneva
The Brute at Grand Geneva, is long, tight, and brutish. The par-4 closing hole has water from green to tee on the right, a steep hillside all down the left, and is a long 464 yards.
Back to Erin Hills for the final day of the US Open on a very windy day, with just one Aussie left to support: Marc Leishman, who ended up a creditable 17th place. We were also really happy to see and support stars like Ricky Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia, and of course Brooks Koepka.
The Grand Geneva Resort has a colourful history. This Frank Lloyd Wright inspired property opened in 1968 as The Lake Geneva Playboy Club Hotel. The 60 Playboy bunnies that once roamed the resort are long gone, but the two courses, The Brute and Highlands, are well worth playing.
Back to Chicago, to play the Tom Fazio designed The Glen Club.The course opened in 2001, and immediately garnered attention, and still maintains a place in Golf Magazine's Top 100 courses.
The sky got darker as our round progressed, but we managed to tee off the 18th before it bucketed down. Some finished in the rain, some were happy to race to the club house and avoid the storm.
"Because The Glen Club is constructed on the former Glenview Naval Air Station, we had the unique opportunity to create the features and topography from scratch. The result is a visually stimulating design in the classic tradition, with beautiful, rolling fairways and harmonious transitions.” -Tom Fazio
Architecture River Cruise
A cruise on the Chicago River is the best vantage to admire the ever changing city skyline and appreciate world-famous architecture.
Our last round of golf was at Cantigny Golf Club where we were spoilt with the quality of the facilities. We played the Woodside/Lakeside combination, which revealed the measure of our game right from the first tee shot. The course was beautiful, so even if some of our golf wasn't what we would have liked, the beautiful gardens were worth the walk.