September 30, 2022

Herbert Kohler, Plumbing Mogul Who Created a Golf Mecca, Dies at 83

Mr. Kohler’s instincts proved correct. The hotel, the American Club, opened in 1981. Augmented by a private hunting and fishing preserve, a tennis club, restaurants, shops and a spa, it was soon a tourist magnet.

Still, something was missing.

“You have this boutique resort hotel, but you don’t have your own golf course,” Mr. Kohler, speaking in a 2015 interview, recalled customers telling him. “That’s kind of embarrassing for a C.E.O.”

Mr. Kohler had little interest in the game, but he quickly immersed himself in it.

Working with Pete Dye, who was once called the Picasso of golf-course design, he developed two nearby championship-caliber courses, Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits.

Mr. Kohler deepened his golf investment in 2004, buying a hotel alongside the famous Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, and the nearby Duke’s Course.

Not all his golf projects have gone smoothly. Local environmentalists thwarted plans for a course on the Oregon coast, and the development of a new one near Kohler has been slowed by residents opposed to its reliance on public land, and by the discovery of Native American artifacts and human remains on the property.

Mr. Kohler shrugged off such obstacles. He pressed on, guided by a phrase adapted from the 19th-century British critic John Ruskin and found in an old stained-glass window at the American Club: “Life without labor is guilt. Labor without art is brutality.”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/business/herbert-kohler-dead.html

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