For the first time in its 117-year history, the U.S. Open is heading to Wisconsin. Erin Hills, just northwest of Milwaukee, will play host to one of the greatest challenges in golf. Here's everything you need to know about the course set to welcome the world's best this June.
1. The Basics
Situated 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, the 7,812-yard, par-72 track lies at the southern end of Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine, the dramatic landscape having been shaped by glacier activity from eons ago. The course takes pride in utilizing the natural shapes of the land, which makes for exciting but tricky lies and stances. It boasts a course rating of 77.9 and a slope of 145. During the 117th U.S. Open, the course will play 7,693 yards.
Erin Hills opened in 2006. Robert Lang, a Wisconsin developer, purchased the property with his own money, bringing on designers Michael J. Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten to sculpt a course with the goal of hosting a U.S. Open. Lang made many changes over the years to the course and eventually ran into financial difficulties, forcing him to sell the course before his dream was realized. In 2009, investment manager Andy Ziegler bought Erin Hills for $10.5 million and worked with the USGA to renovate the course and host the 2011 U.S. Amateur.
3. Previously, at Erin Hills...
The course hosted its first USGA championship in 2008, the Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, won by American and LPGA personality Tiffany Joh. In 2011, the USGA returned to Erin Hills for the U.S. Amateur, won by American Kelly Kraft.
4. You can play!
Erin Hills is a public course, with no memberships. You can even rent clubs if you don't have any with you! Green fees start at $280, and you can hire a caddie for $55 a player, or a fore-caddie for $110 per group. If you haven't had enough golf by the time you're played 18 holes, you can replay nine or 18 for $90 or $180, respectively (subject to availability).
5. Fun facts
In 2010, Ziegler mandated that Erin Hills would become a walking-only course. As a result, the course is not outfitted with paved cart paths. The course also doesn't offer twilight tee times, as the staff would prefer guests to "experience the entire golf course." So despite the long hours of summer daylight, get out there early!
This is also just the sixth public course to host a U.S. Open championship. Others include Chambers Bay, Bethpage, Pebble Beach, Pinehurst and Torrey Pines.
6. Watch out for..
...the wind. When those Wisconsin gusts get whipping, the pros will have not just a long course, but Mother Nature to contend with.
...the fescue. The rough, by USGA's game-making standards, is long, deep and impossibly thick.
...the sand traps. Nicknamed "erosion bunkers," the traps at Erin Hills are irregularly shaped, some with wide spots and some with narrow passages just a foot across. The pros will have their hands full navigating everything from shallow, narrow lies to deep, sloping beaches.