Herb Kohler praised for leaving 'great St Andrews legacy'

Tributes have been paid to Herb Kohler, who owned the Old Course Hotel and The Duke’s Course in St Andrews, following his death at the age of 83.

European captain Padraig Harrington is pictured with Herb Kohler during the Ryder Cup Year to Go Media Event at Whistling Straits in 2019. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
European captain Padraig Harrington is pictured with Herb Kohler during the Ryder Cup Year to Go Media Event at Whistling Straits in 2019. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

The American bought the iconic five-star hotel in 2004 before also purchasing Hamilton Hall, which stands behind the 18th green on the Old Course, and creating luxury apartments in what is now called Hamilton Grand.

“In my opinion, Herb Kohler significantly contributed to making St Andrews the undisputed mecca of golf,” said David Scott, who hails from the town and was the face of golf at the Old Course Hotel and The Duke’s course for a decade.

“Why? Because of the huge amounts of money invested into the town. Since the acquisition of the Old Course Hotel, a large extension of the indoor spa and gym facilities was added while a function room that used to host 250 dinner guests was extended, doubling the capacity.

“On the accommodation side, the addition of 31 rooms took the room footprint up to 175 with a full facelift of all existing bedrooms, bringing the standard up to rival any hotel in the country.

“As for Hamilton Grand, it was up for sale around 2008/09. With no offers in sight, Kohler Co bought it and developed the former student residence into 26 high-quality apartments.

“Had he not made this timely investment, the most famous backdrop in golf would have been quite different for the 2010 Open! There is no question, he has left a great legacy on the Auld Grey Toun and will be sadly missed.”

In his home country, avid golf fan Kohler put the county of Sheboygan in Wisconsin on the map as an internationally-renowned golfing destination, with the crowning achievement coming last year when the Whistling Straits Course hosted the Ryder Cup.

“He’s done so much for golf in Wisconsin,” said Steve Stricker, the winning US captain, as he paid tribute to Kohler on social media. “He made it possible for Ryder Cup USA to bring the cup back home! That was for you Herb!”

Padraig Harrington, the defeated European captain in that match, described Kohler as a “gracious host” and added that he was “just a lovely man who left his mark on life and the game of golf”.

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