The Sweet Spot: Weekly notes from the world of Wisconsin golf
“The Sweet Spot” is a new weekly column of news and notes from Wisconsin.Golf’s Gary D’Amato. Check back every Monday for the latest tidbits from the world of golf and feel free to email Gary at [email protected] with news.
Travis Becker’s new job completes the circle
Travis Becker, who has built a reputation as one of Wisconsin’s finest golf instructors, is going home.
Becker has been named the director of golf at TPC Wisconsin (formerly Cherokee Country Club) in Madison. Monday is his first official day on the job.
“I started at Cherokee as an assistant when I was 25 so it’s full circle, coming back almost 25 years later,” said the 49-year-old Becker. “It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
For the last six years, Becker has been the director of instruction at The Beloit Club and Ironworks Golf Lab in Beloit, which has become one of the state’s hotbeds for golf instruction. Becker is a three-time Wisconsin PGA Section Teacher of the Year.
In his job at TPC Wisconsin, he will oversee the entire golf operation.
“I’ll have to cut back on teaching but it will still be a priority,” he said. “They’ve got a head professional (Matt Kennedy) already in place so it’s going to be building a team around him.
“The Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation is going to be building a learning center, a brand new golf academy. I’ll get to be involved with that and building that team, as well.”
Becker spent 17 years at Cherokee and served as the club’s head golf professional from 2010-’15. He’s excited about the rebranding as a TPC course and the redesign by Stricker and Stephen Wenzloff, the PGA Tour’s vice president of design services.
The American Family Insurance Championship is expected to move from University Ridge to TPC Wisconsin as early as 2024.
“It’s unbelievable,” Becker said of the redesign. “It doesn’t look anything like the old Cherokee. It doesn’t look anything like it used to where it was all kind of flat and everything was in the marsh. Now it’s got rolling hills and the greens are smaller with undulation. It’s a pretty cool design.”
A collegiate nightmare at Whistling Straits
Apropos of Halloween, challenging conditions during a recent college tournament at Whistling Straits turned the course into a house of horrors.
Flagstick-bending winds, slippery greens and difficult pin positions sent scores soaring during the 15-team Whistling Straits Championship. How bad was it? The second round scheduled for Oct. 18 was canceled after only two golfers in the 80-player field broke 80 and nine failed to break 100 in the first round.
University of the Cumberlands shot 35-over 323 to lead the team competition. Viterbo University of La Crosse, the only Wisconsin school in the field, shot 74-over 362. Dakota Wesleyan pulled up the rear at 91-over 379.
The Straits was set up at 6,753 yards, which might have been a tad long for a Division III field, especially given the conditions. The scoring average was a whopping 89.79 and the average score on the par-4 sixth hole was 5.70, or nearly double-bogey.
The cumulative score for the 15 teams: a ghastly 922-over par.
Indoor golfers get their own apparel line
The Sweet Spot has to admit he never saw this coming: an apparel line designed specifically for golfers who play the game indoors.
Leave it to Carl’s Place, a leader in custom golf simulators and home entertainment products, to once again get ahead of the curve. The Milton-based company has launched Carl’s Off-Course Collection, the first line of “athleisure wear” designed with indoor golfers in mind.
“After looking at golf apparel currently on the market, our team was surprised it couldn’t find any brands offering apparel exclusively made for the golf simulator,” said CEO Carl Markestad. “So, in true Carl’s Place fashion, we made our own custom-designed option for indoor golfers. The line is our playful take on ‘proper’ country club attire, yet it’s versatile enough to pass the local club’s stuffy dress code.”
The line includes mix-and-match hoodies and joggers, sweater vests and signature T-shirts. The jogger sets feature a classic tie-dye design and an 8-bit pattern, which is a nod to the brand’s Mario Kart beginnings.
Tap-ins, lip-outs and double-breakers
UW-Parkside men’s and women’s golf coach Carly Werwie-Swartz has given birth to a daughter. Hannah Quinn Swartz was born Oct. 23. In a Facebook post, baby Hannah is wearing a T-shirt that reads “Born to golf.” The Sweet Spot puts that in the double-eagle cute category. … For the first time in history, the overall participant base — the combination of on- and off-course golfers — will top 40 million Americans in 2022, according to the National Golf Foundation. In another first, the number of people who play non-traditional, off-course forms of golf has surpassed the green-grass total. The NGF will release official numbers early in 2023. … John Solheim, the executive chairman of Ping and son of founder Karsten Solheim, has been named the 2022 PGA Distinguished Service Award recipient by the PGA of America. Solheim will be honored Wednesday at the PGA’s annual meeting in Phoenix. Also at the meeting, the PGA’s presidency baton passes from former Kohler Co. general manager and director of golf Jim Richerson to Whitefish Bay native John Lindert. … Rates at Milwaukee County courses have dropped to their lowest of the season. For rates and to book a tee time, click here. Questions? Contact the Parks golf office at 414-257-8024. … Tom and Kalynn Dolby, who spent many years at Mascoutin Golf Club in Berlin, are leaving Pine Grove Country Club in Iron Mountain, Mich., to take positions at Detroit Country Club in Detroit Lakes, Minn.