Spectators stumbling, tumbling around Whistling Straits

Spectators stumbling, tumbling around Whistling Straits

18th-bank_298x397 SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Spectators are falling all over themselves this week to get a glimpse of the action at the PGA Championship.


Whistling Straits is not your run-of-mill golf venue. Walking paths for galleries vary from paved roads to rugged terrain. There are sweeping dunes, steep banks and acres of long, wispy fescue. When things get a little damp (thunderstorms, anyone?), the grass becomes matted down and slick.

It’s been mentioned before, but it’s no easy task to walk this place. On Thursday, I followed Tiger Woods’s group for 18 holes and witnessed three separate spectator wipeouts (One of which was a breath-taking face plant). Two of the fans were wearing flip-flops. Also, one of my fellow scribes, who shall remain nameless, bit the dust while descending a bank on the 12th hole and spent the remainder his afternoon following Tiger in mud-stained khakis. (Media are required to stroll near the ropes, and therefore aren’t allowed on most of the players’ designated walking paths.) The folks at Kohler have some tips for the fans.

“What we recommend is that people wear golf shoes,” says Jay Hoekstra, hospitality manager at Kohler. “There are an unlimited number of places to watch golf out here. If we do find areas that are slippery, we’ll rope them off.”

But a Looney Tunes moment could strike anyone at any time. Just ask Andy Jackson of Wausau, Wis.

“Generally I’m not a faller,” said Jackson, 39, moments after slipping and skidding down a bank on his rear end. “I’m kind of short, and I have a low center of gravity. That usually helps in those cases.”

Jackson is far from alone. In fact, I should confess that while hustling to catch up with Mr. Jackson, I slipped at the exact same spot on the exact same hill adjacent to the 18th fairway and took a spectacular, washing-machine-like tumble. I’m telling you, Chris Farley in his prime would have been envious of this fall. (Physically, I am fine. Emotionally, there may be some damage.)

Jackson has some advice for all of us this weekend.

“Wear your spikes. And know your limits.”

(Photo: The bank near the 18th hole fairway. Jeff Ritter/Golf.com)

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