It’s illustrative to look back at the 2017 US Open Golf Championship and remind ourselves how different golf courses impact the event. Twenty-seven-year-old Brooks Koepka won the 2017 US Open Golf tournament. Birdieing three of his last five holes, he ended with a record-tying score of sixteen under par.
Erin Hills is the first course in Wisconsin to host the tournament. Wisconsin hosted two US Women’s Opens, one US Senior Open and four PGA Championships. Opened in 2006, it hosted the US Amateur in 2011. The team of Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry designed the course with input by golf writer Ron Whitten.
Erin Hills is the first facility owned by a single individual ever to host a USGA event. Wisconsin developer Bob Lang built and funded it with the goal of bringing the US Open to the course. This required him to change several holes and make significant investments, forcing Lang to sell due to financial problems. Andrew Ziegler purchased Erin Hills in 2009. Ziegler made it “walking only” with no paved cart paths. Caddies are recommended.
Erin Hills 2016/17 USA Public Golf Course Rankings: Golf Digest #9, Golf Magazine #23. Golf Magazine ranks it #3 in the state of Wisconsin.
Buildings on the property are stone and rustic wood style intended to feel like an Irish country lodge.
We find the practice range at a major championship an ideal place to start your day at a US Open. You can spend hours watching hundreds of shots closeup from the best golfers in the world. We admire their tempo.
But no visit to the US Open is complete without a trip to the Merchandise tent. It’s enormous, equivalent to a city block.
Erin Hills Golf Course Setup
The Black tees at Erin Hills stretch to 7812 yards on the card, but the USGA set it up the 2017 US Open at “only” 7741 yards. Many holes had long forced carries to the fairway for these professionals starting on the 615-yard first hole. Knee high fescue caused some early complaints it was too punishing. But the fairways were some of the widest ever seen in a US Open. And the first cut of rough was 5- 20 yards wide.
Fairways were generous. The track received more rain and less wind than expected. Some rebuked the USGA arguing Erin Hills was the easiest course in US Open history. Many scoring records were broken. Justin Thomas tied for lowest round in US Open history at 63 in the third round. The winning score was also a record. The punishing high fescue was a not problem for most of the field and became a non-factor.
Searing summer heat made the long lines at the concession stands and water stations even more uncomfortable. One of the water stations on Friday ran out of the water.
No relief from the sun was available at any of the grandstands either. We baked under the sun in the stands near the eighteenth hole even as late at 6 pm. Shade was available only in the premium tents.
This editor is not impressed with Erin Hills as a venue for a major championship. The course is sprawling. Many of the tee grounds were off limits to spectators. The undulations made it impossible to see tee shots on many holes. The fairways first cut rough and second cut of fescue was so extensive that the spectator rope lines on most fairways were far from the golfers. Erin Hills is a great golf course for players but a challenging golf course for spectators.
If You Go
- Course Info – Erin Hills includes eighteen holes of championship golf open to the public.
- Location – One hour northwest of the Milwaukee International airport, one and 1/4 hours east of the Madison Regional Airport and two hours north of Chicago OHare airport. Google Map
- Lodging -Erin Hills is in a rural area. A few hotels are 20 minutes away. Most hotels are one hour away.