Herb Kohler was larger than life, a man of baronial means and mien, an uncommon man who had a way of connecting to all he encountered. The past chairman of Kohler Corp.—and the subject of two articles in Cigar Aficionado—Herbert V. Kohler Jr. passed away on Saturday at the age of 83.
Kohler enjoyed a cigar as part of his extraordinary life while he was building his family’s Kohler Corp. into a multi-billion-dollar business. He came to the game of golf late, and when he did, he ended up changing the game’s landscape. His four courses in and around Kohler, Wisconsin—two at Whistling Straits and two at Blackwolf Run—proved to other developers that if you build something special, the golf aficionados will come. Think Mike Keiser and his Bandon Dunes among others.
Kohler’s Whistling Straits hosted three PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup. Blackwolf Run hosted a U.S. Women’s Open. Dear to Kohler’s heart were his holdings in the home of golf at St Andrews, Scotland. He owned the Old Course Hotel along the 17th fairway, built the Dukes Course just outside of town and developed Hamilton Hall behind the 18th green into luxury apartments.
Kohler could make any chair seem like a throne and make any visitor welcome within his empire. His presence—and throaty baritone—will be forever missed in the game of golf, but his legacy will live on.