stuffed cow with an Erin Hills scarf on display
Thursday morning at Erin Hills in the Town of Erin.
The practice rounds 117th U.S. Open Championship are
scheduled to begin Monday with the championship scheduled
to start Thursday.
Ehlke/ Conley News Service
OF ERIN — For the last several weeks, anyone who drove past
Erin Hills Golf Course would likely have seen an enormous white
tent being constructed.
almost precisely 10 a.m. Thursday, hundreds of golf fans and
even non-golf fans found out what was inside that big top with
the opening of the merchandise tent for the 117th U.S. Open
Championship at Erin Hills.
said Chris Kowalski of New Berlin, adding he was nervous to walk
in because he was afraid he’d spend his entire paycheck.
golf fans, it’d be easy to do.
Lopuszynski, senior director of licensing and U.S. Open
merchandising for the USGA, said there are about 400,000 items
for sale with the 2017 U.S. Open logo on them. The tent
containing those items is more than 38,000 square feet.
Kent Knapp with Milwaukee Blacksmith shakes the hand of
John Morrissett of Erin Hills as he and his fellow artist
and daughter, Zoey, stand near the sculpture they created
for the U.S. Open Championship Thursday morning at Erin
Ehlke/ Conley News Service
the championship, which starts with practice rounds Monday
through Wednesday and the championship rounds Thursday through
June 18, Lopuszynski estimates more than 100,000 hats and 50,000
shirts will be sold.
has been working with the USGA and its merchandising department
for more than 20 years. Still, each year at the U.S. Open, she
and her staff get excited for the opening of the merchandise
tent, saying it’s like Christmas Day.
incredibly exciting,” she said. “We’ve been building for
this for years. And I know the people of Wisconsin are excited.
like Christmas times 10. It’s really exciting.”
‘It brings the
whole area to life’
massive structure, which is air-conditioned, coupled with the
championship being in Washington County has caught the attention
of non-golf fans including Slinger’s Marie Gnas. She admitted
there is curiosity about what it means to have the championship
in her community, both now and in the future.
does something like this ever come to a small town?” Gnas
said. “I’m pretty much excited that something of this
magnitude is here because it brings the whole area to life.”
Kowalski, Gnas was amazed with what she saw when she walked
through the doors of the tent. She said her first impression
was, “Oh my gosh. Wow.”
collection of hats on display for sale on Thursday morning
in the merchandise tent at Erin Hills.
John Ehlke/ Conley News Service
about anything one can think of is available for
customers at the merchandise tent, anything to help them collect
a piece of golf history.
bought a ball marker with the championship logo on it. Gnas was
buying merchandise for friends who are golf fans, but can’t
attend the tournament. Others filled their bags with polo
shirts, hats, pins, shot glasses, pin flags, towels — and on
and on and on.
tent is staffed by 10 USGA employees, 19 college interns and
more than 1,300 volunteers. Through Sunday, the tent is open 10
a.m.-6 p.m. and a ticket for the championship isn’t required.
Starting Monday, though, in order to reach the merchandise tent,
customers will need a ticket. The hours during the championship
are 7 a.m.-8 p.m. each day.
for the championship will no longer be sold after Wednesday,
said Janean Driscoll, public relations director for the USGA.
people that are in the area, it’s the best time to come
shop,” Lopuszynski said, adding the USGA has opened the
merchandise tent ahead of the championship for more than 20
years to help pedestrian flow through the tent.
said the best times to shop during championship week are early
in the week and early in the day. During the afternoon rounds
and once the championship officially begins, capacity is often
reached in the tent and the doors are temporarily closed. In
addition, availability of merchandise goes down significantly by
the end of the championship.