On Monday following the US Open I had the chance to play Erin Hills. The stands were still up; pins were in the Championship positions.
It was a terrific experience. I have now played Erin Hills twice and consider it a great course that compares favorably to other US Open courses that I have played: Torrey Pines, Colonial, Oakland Hills and Medinah. Purists will likely be aghast at this statement, but for all of the low scoring that happened this past weekend, I think that with better weather conditions (eg. dry, windy) players would have struggled to make par. There’s nothing anyone can do about the weather, though. Rory ate up a similarly soft Congressional, but no one suggested that course was inadequate.
Although the crews had not cut or rolled greens overnight, they still were running very, very fast. Close up, I was surprised at how little grass there actually was:
Erin Hills is full of ways to get into trouble. While it is true that a record number of players were under par, it also is true that eight of the top twelve players didn’t make it to the weekend. Rolling fairways (not a flat lie on the course) can quickly redirect shots into bunkers and savage fescue. Trouble seems to compound trouble.
Just after we finished the first nine, players were pulled into the clubhouse because of incoming thunderstorms. We sat out for an hour or so, and then headed back out in the rain. Three holes in, the rain was gone. Two holes later, the sun was out again. Wisconsin weather apparently is a lot like Michigan’s, where we say “If you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes or drive fifteen miles.”
The ninth is the shortest par five you will ever play. We teed off from the US Open Sunday tees. I was lucky enough to hit the green. My playing companions were not so fortunate. Once in the narrow, irregularly shaped, steep bunkers, balls played out of one only to end up in the bunker opposite.
I had a great caddy for my round. Dave Zeisse has been looping at Erin Hills for five years. In winter months, he caddies in Florida and hones his skills on the mini tours. He got me around the course in fewer swings than my skills deserved, and offered a lot of information on the course and its development. He was able to point out where the “missing” par three once was located, which explained why a couple of the holes do not follow quite naturally from green to next tee. There’s also a “missing” green on the tenth. If you get a chance to play Erin Hills, ask for Dave and tell him The GolfBlogger sent you.
Wisconsin fans are hopeful that the US Open will return in 2027. For my part, I am hopeful that slot goes to Oakland Hills, since it is in my backyard and would be good for Michigan. I would not, however, be at all disappointed to see it return to Erin Hills. Or to any other course in the Midwest. The “National Championship” spends too much time on the coasts.
More photos of my post-US Open round at Erin Hills follow. For my photos and review of Erin Hills from my round last summer, visit the link: Erin Hills Review.