Great Holes: The 7th at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin

Courses and Travel

Architect Martin Ebert on this 221-yard par 3

When Whistling Straits first opened there was a certain amount of incredulity regarding the sheer number of bunkers that Pete Dye had sprinkled across his man-made landscape with a vast majority of them completely out of play.

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Although they are intended to be natural in style, all bunkers or waste areas in the modern age require some form or maintenance.

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Is it sustainable?

In the case of Whistling Straits that would be some degree of raking and also maintenance of the grass edges to stop the sandy scars becoming overgrown.

Does that make sense in an age when sustainability has become the buzzword for design and maintenance? So, what was Pete Dye thinking of?

Back to the old days

In fact, perhaps there is a rationale which can be traced back to the very roots of the game.

Early photographs of the great seaside links reveal a much more sandy landscape. Scenes from the formative years of the likes of Royal Portrush, Royal County Down and Royal Lytham show a fragile dunescape with so much exposed sand covering it.

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Royal Lytham, 1963

Through the years the burrowing animals have been reduced in number and vegetation has established, almost taken over, to the extent that the only areas of sand left are planned and manicured bunkers. So perhaps Dye was trying to recreate an old-style links.

The hole exhibits sandy scars well beyond the playing area and it does set an attractive vista. The diagonal bank and bunkers cutting across the approach gives the hole strong playing lines but it would be best not to miss the target right… or left!


Have you played the 7th at Whistling Straits? Or think you could you take on this hole? Tell us how you got on in the comment section below.

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