Melded into a river basin formed by the flows of glacial runoff, Blackwolf Run features two 18-hole championship courses which have hosted some of the world’s best players. A combination of the River and Meadow Valleys courses is used for the U.S. Women’s Open, which returns to the Wisconsin resort for the second time in July.
The 1998 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Korean Se Ri Pak in a 20-hole playoff over amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn, was the first USGA championship for the resort. Since then, Blackwolf Run has also been the host site for three Andersen Consulting World Championships (1995-97).
Both the River and Meadows Valley courses were designed by Pete Dye. When Blackwolf Run opened with one course in 1988, Golf Digest magazine named it as the Best New Public Course. That original course is used in the routing for the Women’s Open.
Blackwolf Run is one of two resort golf properties operated by the Kohler Company; the other is Whistling Straits, a 36-hole facility that was the host site for the 2007 U.S. Senior Open (Straits Course).
The American Club building was originally built in 1918 to house immigrant workers with the Kohler Company. Some 60 years later, Herb Kohler, the president of the Kohler Company, decided to create a high-end resort with outdoor activities at its core. As the resort grew, golf became a need to enhance the resort. Originally, Kohler had hoped to purchase a nearby country club, but the proposal failed.
So he developed some of the family’s private land, which had been previously used for hunting, fishing and hiking. The original course proved so popular that he had Dye design a second course a year later. Because of space limitations, nine holes were created on either side of the existing course, eventually creating the River and Meadows Valley courses.
In preparation for the 2012 Women’s Open, the Championship course underwent some extensive renovations in 2009, with the remaining 18 holes receiving treatment in 2010. All of the existing bunker sand was replaced and tees, fairways, green complexes and green surrounds were re-seeded with new bentgrass.