Led by Andy North, Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, Wisconsin has produced an abundance of fine players
By Rob Schultz
Right: Andy North is credited with putting Wisconsin golf on the map following his two U. S. Open victories in 1977 and ’ 85. Below: Edgerton native Steve Stricker is the No. 4-ranked player in the world.
In the meantime, a bevy of young players from Wisconsin followed in North’s footsteps and continued to prove that you don’t need to spend 12 months a year in a warmer climate to succeed on a golf course.
The list includes Edgerton native Steve Stricker, the No. 4 ranked player in the world and a two-time comeback player of the year on the PGA Tour who rebuilt his swing at home hitting thousands of balls in sub-freezing conditions during two long, ANDY NORTH WASN’T MUCH DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER successful golfer from America’s snow belt when he turned professional in 1972. North grew up in Madison, Wis., but spurned the Badger State to attend college at the University
of Florida in Gainesville, where he was a three-time All-American. Upon
the end of his collegiate career, he decided to make Gainesville his
official residence because of the year-round warmth it provided.
U.S. Opens and that helped put a spotlight
on golf in Wisconsin that has never been
Four years later, just as he started playing the best golf of his life, North moved his family – comprised of wife Susan and two young daughters – back to Madison. It was an unthinkable move at the time, but one North credits for changing his career and life.
“We made it work,” recalls North.
“Educating our kids and having them grow
up in a great environment was a lot more
important than me hitting balls every single
Meanwhile, North went on to win two
Prior to North’s first U.S. Open triumph at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado in 1977, the only state golf course that received any regular notoriety was Milwaukee Country Club. By the time of his second Open win at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich., in 1985, a golf boom had started in the state that already included Sentry World in Stevens Point and would soon include two courses at Blackwolf Run in Kohler. Blackwolf Run was the site of the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open, which established numerous attendance records.
By the turn of the century, Kohler opened up two more courses at Whistling Straits to such critical acclaim that the Straits course quickly was penciled in to host the 2004 PGA Championship, the 2007 U.S. Senior Open and this week’s PGA Championship (with the 2015 PGA Championship and 2020 Ryder Cup still to come).
THE PGA OF AMERICA
90 THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM OF THE 2010 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP