KOHLER, Wis. -- Golfers have four great reasons to visit The American Club.
All four Pete Dye courses at Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits are considered among the best in the country.
But the resort, located an hour north of Milwaukee, didn't earn Five Stars from Forbes and a Five Diamond rating from AAA -- one of just 31 hotels in the world to do so -- with just golf. The quaint village of Kohler, a master-planned community, serves as the perfect Midwestern backdrop for a destination seemingly trapped in time.
"Kohler is like a fancy Mayberry," said Tom Kottenstette, a golfer visiting from Cincinnati, Ohio. "Nobody locks their doors. It's so clean."
Here are 10 reasons to visit The American Club:
1. Try to beat Pete
It's always an excellent adventure to play a Dye course. The Straits Golf Course might be the best of Dye's storied career. He made something wonderful out of nothing.
The linksy layout has already hosted two PGA Championships with another one (in 2015) and a Ryder Cup (in 2020) on the way. The golf on the Straits is almost secondary to the walk with a caddie among the man-made dunes along Lake Michigan. Amazingly, the River at Blackwolf Run Golf Course rivals the Straits for sheer beauty and brutality.
2. It's relaxation time
The Kohler Waters Spa is one of just 31 spas worldwide to earn the coveted Forbes Five Stars. It's really not a fair fight.
The spa is armed with all the best Kohler products, such as facets, tubs, shower heads and more. The staff is just as good as the first-rate facilities. The choice of treatments can almost overwhelm the first-time spa goer.
3. Take a shower
My shower at the Inn on Woodlake featured five shower heads shooting water from various directions, a sensation that almost feels like a full-body massage.
Turns out some showers inside The American Club have seven heads. Now that's pampering.
4. Say cheese!
It's easy to be a cheesehead in Wisconsin. The menu of the Horse & Plow practically demands it.
You haven't lived until you've plowed through an appetizer of fried cheese curds and sipped from a cup of the beer cheese soup. It's the perfect "welcome to Wisconsin" dish for out-of-towners.
Choosing where to eat isn't easy at a resort filled with nearly a dozen fine restaurants.
5. Take a golf lesson
The Kohler Golf Academy, located at the back of the range at Blackwolf Run, is a great place to learn. The private location is set up with video, which instructors use to help all handicaps improve.
Tennis lessons are available at the excellent Sports Core Health & Racquet Club, which was recently renovated.
6. Get served
Everyone I interviewed during my recent stay came away impressed with the service of the resort staff. They brought it up without being prompted.
Good service can be a personal experience that varies from guest to guest, so to be singled out time and time again says something about the dedication and genuine friendliness of the people who work here.
7. Go camping
Camping at a luxury five-star resort? Well, sort of. Sandhill -- a new luxury cabin that opened earlier this year -- offers a unique place to stay for golfers, couples or families.
The cabin, made of recycled barn wood, sleeps six thanks to a loft and a basement, all built on secluded land near Whistling Straits. Guests are encouraged to relax by the fire pit or to ride mountain bikes or hike the trails out back.
A separate building called the "Poker Room" features a table for playing cards and a wood-burning stove. If that isn't "campy" enough for you, head to dinner at Blackwolf Run and order the s'mores dessert.
8. Bring the family
Apparently, family travel to The American Club continues to increase. Upon check-in, children get a welcome bag of goodies, including a punch card of free kid friendly activities, like a smoothie at Take 5 Cafe, a free cupcake at the Craverie Chocolatier Cafe, a free kid's meal at The Horse & Plow and a free activity rental.
Families should stay at the Inn on Woodlake for several reasons. Another freebie, the breakfast buffet, provides a good start to the day. The Inn sits conveniently next to the Shops at Woodlake, home to a toy store and a Subway (for more affordable meals). The beach out back and the walking trails along Woodlake that lead to the Sports Core are perfect for exploring.
The Kohler Kidz program let's adults enjoy a quiet night out with "dinner and a movie" for children.
9. Come for the big show
The golf courses are done hosting major championships until the 2015 PGA Championship, but there are two annual events worth planning your trip around: The celebrated Kohler Food & Wine Experience every October and the Kohler Festival of Beer every June.
The Food & Wine Experience showcases celebrity chefs, restaurateurs and wine, and beer and spirit experts during a flavorful four-day festival set for Oct. 18-21.
10. Enjoy Mother Nature
Kohler might be surrounded by corn fields, but there's also plenty of outdoor adventures nearby. Sand dunes, hiking trails and miles of Lake Michigan beaches are the draw at the Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan.
The River Wildlife, a private recreational and dining club, is open to resort guests, providing opportunities for horseback riding, clay and trap shooting, river fishing and lake charters, youth archery, canoeing/kayaking and more.