Saturday, August 15, 2015

The PGA and Herb Kohler

Some familiar names are atop the PGA tournament leaderboard after 3 rounds of play. Jason Day keeps getting a little better. An opening round of 68, then a 67, then a 66 to lead at 15 under par. The Aussie has yet to win a major tournament, though he's been in serious contention in many recent ones. Perhaps this will be his time.

After a so-so one under par opening round, the fearsome Jordan Spieth has mounted a charge. Friday he was 5 under, and he blistered the course with a 7 under 65 on Saturday. He sits only two shots back of Day, and will be paired with him for the final round. At the tender young age of 22, Spieth already knows a thing or two about winning majors. It's unlikely he will choke. Can Day hold him off? We'll see, but it should certainly be exciting.

On a lesser and somewhat expected note, poor Tiger Woods failed to make the cut -- again. It would appear Eldrick has become the Danica Patrick of golf. Keep entering events, have the gullible masses wildly cheer when either of them is remotely competitive for 5 minutes or so, but haven't a prayer of coming out on top when the event is over. The difference between the two? Once upon a time, Woods used to win tournaments. Danica never won squat. There's the black/white, male/female thing, but who cares? Know what really stimulates the gag reflex? Despite how far back either of them are, the media folks will still post their positions as "notables". So other then foot stomping and club beating temper tantrums, just what pray tell are they notable for these days?

This year's PGA tourney is being held at Whistling Straits, a course owned by one Herb Kohler. You've probably heard or seen that name before. The Kohler company makes a lot of bathtubs, toilets, and faucets. I'm pretty sure "hot" is still on the left, and the really important lever on the toilet is behind you to the right. And yeah, once activated, the you-know-what still swirls around and eventually flows downhill. The Kohler brand is known as fairly high-end stuff, though one is left to wonder just exactly what the differences are between Kohler fixtures and the Acme brand Wile E. Coyote may have purchased in Road Runner cartoons. A bathtub holds water. Pull the plug and it runs out. Pretty simple.

But once upon a time, Kohler bought a farm. E-I-E-I-O. This farm happened to be on the shores of Lake Michigan. Herb had no interest in milking cows, raising chickens, or slopping pigs. A grander idea was in the works. Somehow he made a trade-off with people wanting to build a nuclear power plant, and Whistling Straits was born. With a lot of help from famed golf course architect Pete Dye.

A quick look at his bio is interesting. When Herb was only 33, he was named Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Kohler company. That's not too surprising. His daddy had founded the company, and after control had passed through a couple other elder Kohlers, Herb inherited the whole waterworks. I mean, who else would they put in charge? A Clinton, Bush, or Kardashian? Please.

Billionaires seem to be reclusive for some reason -- some more than others. But the PGA talking heads managed to get Herb on the air for a live quicky TV interview. Of course the questioner went on about how fabulous the course was how proud Kohler must be to have seen his dream come true. After all, this was the third time Whistling Straits had hosted the PGA tournament. Very impressive stuff. And hey, while nuclear power plants might serve a larger purpose for the commoners, it's difficult to argue Whistling Straits hasn't been quite successful as well. Even Wisconsin has its elite class of linksters. They need a playground too.

But while on the air, it was hard to tell whether old Herb was deep in billionaire thoughts or merely a deer in the headlights. Let's just say he was gracious, if not exactly eloquent. While the K man admitted to getting a huge kick out of greeting all the world class players that showed up for the PGA (owners of golf courses get to do that), methinks he should fade back into what he knows best. His porcelain receptacle empire. Stay away from the cameras and microphones, Herb. Give a few more interviews like that and Acme might start looking pretty good to some people.

Bring on the final round of the tournament. This should be really good......

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