How many of you have heard of Erin, Wisconsin? I'd be willing to bet that until the USGA announced 117th United States Golfers Association Championship will be held at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, that you have never heard of such a place. I'm sure most of you know Wisconsin as the home of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, and maybe the setting of Happy Days. But Wisconsin has become a Golfer's paradise including Golf Digest's Top 100 Ranked Courses - Erin Hills. Erin Hills is only one of six public courses to be selected to hold a U.S. Open. Let's start by digging into the Course.
Erin Hills is laid out on top of the Kettle Moraine area which was created by glaciers, surrounded by wetlands, and a river, with ground that consists of glacial till of varied composition of sand and small rock.
The course was designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, and Ron Whitten to accommodate the US Open in terms of both the challenge to the players and the logistics of the spectators. Walking down the middle of the fairway from Hole 1 to Hole 18 is 9 miles long; that's just down the middle! Imagine dealing with that occasional hook or slice! It is long, very long, ridiculously long at 8,348 yards although for the U.S. Open will officially be 7,693 yards. Elevated greens, fairways, and tee boxes all accompanied by rough fescue and strong wind. The wind reflects the character of Erin Hills which blows whenever and in any direction it pleases. Flat lies will be at a premium which will likely prove to be the greatest of U.S. Open challenges. The greens are pure bent grass which points to numerous birdies being made or at least attempted.
U.S. Open is unique to all of the PGA Tour events as any amateur has a chance to qualify and actually play in the event. You have to carry a handicap index of 1.4 or lower and qualify. The USGA accepted 9485 entries for the elite field where only 51 are fully exempt. The entrants represented all 50 states, District of Columbia, and 66 countries world wide.
Qualifying rounds start in early spring and continue up until the week of the start of the tournament. We will also see the top golfers in the world highlighted by last year's winner Dustin Johnson. Dustin is looking to continue his U.S. Open Glory with a back to back win. Master's winner Sergio Garcia will also be in the field looking to continue his quest of the grand slam.
U.S. Open is played at iconic venues around the country, with 51 courses to date holding the distinction of being a U.S. Open site. Erin Hills will be the sixth public-access course to host the championship (joining Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Bethpage, Torrey Pines and Chambers Bay).
More than 35,000 spectators are expected to attend each day. More than 5,000 volunteers will assist during championship week. Historically, the U.S. Open generates more than $120 million in positive economic impact to the host communities, as well as the region in which it is held. The spectators will have a once in a life time experience both in person and on TV. If you are lucky enough to attend in person let us know what you think. We'd love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and experience from the open.
What a Field!
The U.S. Open Championship!
I have been very fortunate to have played this AMAZING course and cannot wait to watch the 117th US Open in Wisconsin. It will be long, challenging, frustrating, but exhilarating all the same. I can't begin to describe the AWESOMENESS (I don't care if it's not a word) of Erin Hills nor will I even try. I assure you that Erin Hills is like non other and the USGA made the perfect decision by selecting Erin Hills as the site for the 117th US Open. I'm assuming you are like me and want every year to be bigger, faster, more challenging then the next, then Erin Hills will not disappoint!
Thank you USGA for thinking out of the box and taking the U.S. Open to the next level!
Kent Evans is a passionate golfer and Sr Golf Writer at Two Guys with Balls. Kent blogs about various golf topics that interest him.