How Pete Dye’s Dog Killed Herb Kohler’s Sheep

Editor’s note: This tale originates with Monte Burke at Visor tip to John Strege at Local Knowledge.

How Pete Dye’s Dog Killed Herb Kohler’s Sheep 1HERB KOHLER LOVED HIS black-face sheep that wandered Whistling Straits, the Wisconsin golf course that hosted the 2010 PGA Championship won by Martin Kaymer in a sudden-death playoff against Bubba Watson. (And, of course, the home of the bunker controversy that ruined Dustin Johnson’s bid for his first major.)

The sheep made the Kohler property on the edge of Lake Michigan seem more like Scotland. They also provided photo-ops for golfers. They even trimmed the rough.

(Photo: The black-face sheep of Whistling Straits /

Dan Perry, Flickr)

In advance of the 2004 PGA Championship, famed course designer Pete Dye was summoned to Whistling Straits to build an ambulance road. Dye brought along one of his Belgian shepherds for company as he mapped the road. It was a habit of his. Apparently, Pete loved his dogs. But a problem arose.

“I wasn’t paying attention to my dog,” Dye told Monte Burke. “And the next thing I know, that dog is chasing the sheep.”

Desperate to escape the canine, one of the sheep plunged into Lake Michigan. The dog jumped in after it! The sheep swam out farther. The shepherd followed.

“I ran down and jumped into the lake and grabbed the dog, but by that time, the sheep had gone upside down,” Dye said.


Steve Friedlander, general manager of Kohler’s golf courses, descended a hill and made a beeline for the course architect. You are in big trouble, he told Dye. Dye: I know. I’ll tell Mr. Kohler. But that wasn’t what Friedlander meant. An editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was playing the course and saw the entire dog-sheep episode.

Dye trailed the editor and approached him on the 14th. He asked the editor not to make a big story about what he saw, otherwise Dye could write the following day’s headline: “Herb Kohler shot Pete Dye.”

The editor smiled and returned to his mediocre golf game. The anecdote ran as a small item the next day, and Dye surely breathed a sigh of relief.

−The Armchair Golfer

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

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