Friday, June 21, 2013

Whistling Straits (and Girls' Day!)

I explained in my last post that Eric was supposed to golf at Whistling Straits on the first Tuesday of our trip, but, thanks to disgusting weather, had to reschedule for Wednesday (5/29), thus extending our stay in Milwaukee by one day. I was so glad that we had that little bit of wiggle room in our itinerary so we were able to do this - not because I fell in love with Milwaukee and wanted extra time there, but because I knew how excited Eric was about this golf outing and I would have felt terrible if he had to miss it altogether. I'm so glad we were able to make it work!

Because I am relatively golf-dumb, I asked Eric to write a little something about this Whistling Straits day in his own words. Without further ado, I give you Eric's recap of Whistling Straits:

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Golf Digest ranks the Straits Course at Whistling Straits the #2 public course in the U.S. and, having finally gotten the chance to play, I can definitely see why. 
Around 15 years ago, noted golf course architect Pete Dye and his crew transformed a flat, abandoned airfield sitting on two miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline into a spectacular golf course with 80 feet of elevation changes and close to 1,000 bunkers. The Straits Course is modeled after an Irish links course and even has its own herd of Scottish blackface sheep, which roam the back nine at their leisure. I still remember my jaw dropping at the sharp contrast between the visually stunning and perfectly manufactured course and the flat and boring 1.5 hour stretch of poorly-maintained highway it took to get there from Milwaukee.
The 10th fairway (the green is behind he bunkers to the left)

Looking back on the 18th hole

Sheep roaming the 11th fairway
The clubhouse and facilities are very classy and the entire staff was polite and friendly. In fact, they allowed me to borrow a brand new driver to replace mine, which had unfortunately snapped during our flight to St. Louis (and which I didn't discover until I got there). In addition, the course requires you to take a caddie, which greatly enhanced my experience. Mine was very helpful and easy to get along with. He actually stayed with me the entire round, just like they do on tour and even hung around on the driving range before I teed off (as opposed to a lot of places where the caddies sometimes give you quick advice on the tee and then go ahead to watch for the ball). 
As for the course itself, it was definitely interesting and a lot of fun to play. Most of the time I missed a fairway, I was treated to an unusual lie and a one-of-a-kind stance. In the first five holes, I had shots that ranged from waist high to two feet below my feet. It was really an exercise in creativity and a very different experience from the courses I am used to playing. The fairways were in great shape and any hole that seemed on the easy side from the tee had a very interesting green to make up for it.
Sizing up my tee shot on #3

The second shot on #5

Standing on the 6th tee
I should also mention how crazy the weather was, much like playing a true Irish/Scottish links course. Aside from having to reschedule due to heavy rain, it was in the low 50s when I got to the course and perhaps 20 degrees warmer by the time I finished. At some point on the front side, the fog rolled in and stayed for a few holes before burning off by the time we made the turn. However, it wasn't gone for good and actually came back with a vengeance on the 11th (right after I remarked to my caddie about how nice of a day it was turning into). That fog stuck around for most of the back nine and actually led to a severe sunburn.
Teeing off on #7

The 9th and 18th greens and the clubhouse in the background.

In theory, the 14th hole is there somewhere.
I remember telling my caddie that I didn't really mind the fog so long as it cleared up for pictures on the signature hole. Which it did.
On the 17th tee
All in all, it was a great experience, and the Straits Course has moved (straight?) to the top of my list of favorite courses I have played.
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Thanks for sharing, Eric! So glad you enjoyed it so much!

Meanwhile, while the cat's away, the mice have to do something, too. (That's how the saying goes, yes?) While Eric golfed, Ellie and I hung out at the hotel. We kept ourselves busy with some breakfast, some carrying around of things in the hotel room, then a nap, resulting in Baby's First Bedhead.

Left: Roaming the hotel room with the base of the telephone in hand; Right: Mad that I'm photographing her bedhead.

Then we went over to the hotel next door for a nice little mama-baby lunch out at the on-site Champps. I had a tasty sandwich but Ellie was offended by the un-melty-ness of her grilled cheese. She did, however, love the raspberries in her fruit cup.

Mmmm, raspberry mess.

After lunch we went back to the hotel and hit the pool for a bit.

The hotel pool

Ready to swim!

Before we knew it, Eric was back home in enough time for us to wander around the area on a Milwaukee postcard hunt (we collect postcards and magnets everywhere we go!) and grab dinner before trying to pack up as much as possible before bed. We were ready to hit the road again early the next morning!

Coming up next: A fun stadium tour at Notre Dame!

To see more pictures from Whistling Straits, click here.

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