The American Club – Kohler, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

The Golf Shrine of the Midwest

The American Club is a classy, top-rank all-around vacation resort, espe­cially if your sport of choice is golf. Of the Clubs mega-golf complex, Blackwolf Run’s two 18-hole courses (Meadow Valleys and River) were naturally sculpted by glacier runoff tens of thousands of years ago, then refined by world-renowned course architect Pete Dye, who proclaimed upon their opening in 1988 that “there could not be a better natural setting for golf.”

Dye also designed the two built-from-scratch Whistling Straits courses whose undulating, windy links unfold along the Lake Michigan shoreline – the critically acclaimed Straits and The Irish, opened in 1998 and 2000 respectively and host of the PGA Tournament in 2004, a rare honor for such a new course. Each is a walking course and requires a caddy.

The visionary behind the American Club, Herbert Kohler Jr. (of designer plumbing prod­ucts fame) wanted the course to emulate the great Ballybunion, and the result is so suc­cessful you could easily believe you’re on the coast of Ireland.

In 1981, Kohler was responsible for trans­forming a redbrick, Tudor-style 1918 rooming house into the American Club’s hub. Built originally for the workers employed at the bathroom fixtures factory across the street, it is now a grand, ivy-covered manor house of uncommon luxury, with mammoth in-suite bathrooms.

Those seeking pampering after or instead of their round of golf can partake of fifty-five treatments at the new, state-of-the-art, 16,000-square-foot Kohler Waters Spa, which, naturally, showcases the family’s plumbing legacy. (Incidentally, everything around here is named Kohler, as the family has dominated the area since opening its com­pany in 1873.) Afterward, head for the hotel’s refined Immigrant Restaurant and Winery, featuring six different ethnic-themed rooms designed to reflect the groups who once lived and worked here.

Wisconsin’s heritage of dairy farming and German immigrant cuisine are acknowledged on the menu at the hotel’s publike Horse and Plow, with its signature three-cheese soup and grilled Sheboygan sausage sampler – plus a choice of at least eighty regional bottled beers and twelve Wisconsin beers on tap.

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