Chris Lutzke Finishes The Baths of Blackwolf Run

Excerpt taken from September 13, 2018

HAVEN — Chris Lutzke doesn’t have a business card, doesn’t grant many interviews and has never been big on promoting himself. He’s most comfortable on a bulldozer or a loader, pushing dirt around, moving it here and there, sculpting the skeletons of golf courses.

You’ve probably never heard of him, but you know his work: Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, the Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort in southern Indiana, Old Marsh in West Palm Beach, Florida, and many others.


Lutzke has been with Pete Dye for more than 30 years and has been a Dye design associate for more than 20. His loyalty to the legendary course designer stands out in an industry in which young hot-shot architects are quick to strike out on their own and draw attention to themselves.

The Kohler Co. hired Lutzke, fresh out of Valders High School, to pick up sticks and do odd jobs when Dye was building Blackwolf Run in the mid-1980s. Dye took notice of the kid who worked harder than everyone else and took him under his wing. Got him into Michigan State and paid his tuition. Took him around the world to build golf courses.

You wouldn’t know any of this because Lutzke prefers to stay in the background. He consented to a rare interview recently in the pub at Whistling Straits, where he is overseeing prep work in advance of the 2020 Ryder Cup.

“I’ve always stayed behind the scenes,” he said. “Rarely would I talk to a reporter. I just get up early and I go to work. And I get home and it’s dark. That’s my only secret, if you will.”

Lutzke has spent a lot of time at Whistling Straits in recent months, overseeing work to widen gallery corridors and enhance spectator viewing areas for the 2020 Ryder Cup.

He’s also keenly interested in a project a few miles to the south, in the Town of Wilson, where Dye drew a preliminary routing for a fifth Kohler Co. course on 247 company-owned acres just north of Kohler-Andrae State Park.

More than four years have passed since plans were announced for the 18-hole championship course. Because of opposition from local property owners and environmental groups such as Friends of the Black River Forest, Kohler Co. has done its due diligence and moved slowly through various hearings, permitting processes and DNR approvals.