Here’s to no unwanted headlines at the 97th PGA Championship
Next week, the eyes of the world are going to be on Sheboygan and its magnificent Whistling Straits golf course, as the last golf major of the year — the 2015 PGA championship — begins on August 13. This will be the third PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which previously hosted the event in 2004 and 2010 (both won in playoffs), as well as the United States Senior Open in 2007.
The story lines for this year’s PGA Championship are many: Will 21-year-old Jordan Spieth win his third major of the year? Will hometown favorite Steve Stricker make a run? Will Tiger Woods finally get off the schneid?
As more than six million people are expected to tune in on TV — with an additional 200,000 watching the action live at Whistling Straits — let’s hope all of the story lines remain on the bent grass.
The headline we don’t need to see is yet another about a traffic accident along Highway 23, which serves as the main thoroughfare to Whistling Straits from the west.
These headlines have become all too familiar this year:
- 2 dead following Highway 23 crash (January 22)
- Names released in Highway 23 crash (May 15)
- Ripon woman killed in crash (June 25)
- Semi vs. car head-on crash on Hwy. 23 (July 15)
- Another Accident on Highway 23 (July 24)
This dangerous stretch of roadway has become a hot topic for the communities around Sheboygan, Plymouth, and Fond du Lac. Earlier this year, Eastern District of Wisconsin Judge Lynn Adelman halted construction on this road that was set to begin within days of his decision. The 19-mile stretch of Highway 23 is scheduled to be widened by adding another lane in each direction. One of the main reasons for doing this is to improve safety.
The ruling puts this project on hold and asks the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to go back and show how they arrived at their traffic projections and population projections in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). “Because the decision to expand Highway 23 to four lanes was based on violations of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) that have significantly affected informed decision-making and informed public participation, I find it is appropriate to vacate the record of decision and to remand the matter to the agencies for further consideration,” Adelman stated in his decision.
This ruling has not sat well at all with locals who have to drive this road daily. In mid-July, the Fond du Lac County Board approved a resolution calling on the Department of Transportation to continue fighting for the expansion. Fond du Lac County Supervisor Dean Will took this shot at the environmental group, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, that filed the lawsuit: “They may say they’re 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, but they’re not friends of Fond du Lac County.” Will is also a former captain with the sheriff’s department and has lost a cousin in an accident on this highway. “How much carnage before this gets done?” Will asked.
Hopefully, clearer heads will prevail and this project will get back on track. In the meantime, let’s all hope that with the increased traffic that the PGA Championship will bring, that it does not bring any more unwanted headlines.
On a positive note, we have much to be proud of as a state with the PGA choosing Wisconsin once again to host this premiere sporting event. Click on the two links below. The first is a virtual tour of the magnificent, world-renowned Whistling Straits Golf Course. The second features highlights from last year’s incredible Championship.
Enjoy the PGA Championship, and if you’re fortunate enough to have tickets, be extra vigilant when traveling to the event. For starters, stay in your lane — fairways are not the only things that are narrow. You cannot afford to be off to the right when driving Highway 23. The potential hazard is worse than any water or trees, and the consequences are far greater than a one-stroke penalty.
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