State Permit for Posh Golf Course Lands in Sand

March 19, 2019

A state judge has quashed a state permit granted by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s administration that allowed a major GOP contributor to build a golf course along Lake Michigan.

Administrative Law Judge Mark Kaiser ruled that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) granted the permit for the Kohler Co. golf course project before it had complete information about the environmental harm that the project would cause rare wetlands, endangered plants, and bird habitats.

A retired DNR ecologist said last year that the agency was pressured by its managers to approve the permits.

The Kohler Co.’s plans call for an 18-hole, 247-acre course using four acres of forest and wetland in the Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan County for the golf course project. The plans call for filling about 1.5 acres of very rare wetlands and removing up to 120 acres of forest.

The company said it plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

Kohler Co. employees contributed $65,565 between January 2010 and December 2017 to legislative and statewide candidates. Most of the employee contributions – $48,000 – were made by company Chairman Herbert V. Kohler Jr.,

Herbert Kohler contributed $40,000 to Walker, $5,000 to GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $2,000 to Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, and $1,000 to former GOP Sen. Joe Leibham, of Sheboygan.

Kohler Co. has built two other high-end 18-hole golf courses in Wisconsin – Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, which was the site of the PGA Championship in 2004, 2010 and 2015.