ERIN HILLS —
When Erin Hills Golf Course hosts the U.S. Open in June, it will
accomplish something that hasn't been done in 24 years.
The course will
play as a par-72. The last time the U.S Open played as par-72 was
1992, when it was at Pebble Beach.
The USGA has
already started mapping exactly how each hole will look — both the
playing surface and hospitality tents.
“It's a work in
progress, but we're starting to identify the infrastructure,” U.S.
Open Championship Manager Eric Steimer said.
Each hole has
been broken down, with the USGA and Erin Hills Superintendent Zach
Reineking knowing how the fairways are cut and where potential hole
out five hole locations — four during round play, and one for a
playoff,” said Jeff Hall of the USGA. “We have practice locations as
well. We want to be as thorough in our golf examination as we can
The U.S. Open
is historically the toughest of the professional tour’s four majors.
Erin Hills hopes it can live up to that stigma.
the U.S. Open at Erin Hills is available online starting Sept. 8.
Erin Hills and
the USGA like how the course is set up and taken care of. Not much
has changed through the last five or six years, Not much plans to
change in the next 286 days.
When the U.S.
Open comes June 12, the only thing different is the 35,000
spectators watching each day.
everyone's experience to be the best it can possibly be,” USGA's
director of championship communications Pete Kowalski said.
A big help to
Reineking is when Erin Hills closes in October for the winter, it
will not reopen until after the U.S. Open concludes.
That makes it
easier for the staff to put the final touches on the championship
course. “It’s all about fine-tuning the golf course,” Reineking
said. “That’s easy to do when you’re not worrying about it being
played during the day.”
Erin Hills is
known for its tall fescue grass lining the course. The management of
that grass changed through the last seven years.
acres can become unmanageable,” Reineking said. “We’ve taken
basically a farm tractor and mow it, bale it, then remove it. The
fescue varies every year, but it’ll be around 12-15 inches. Mowing
and baling it is the most effective way to do it.” The course
removed close to 300 trees in 2009, leaving just a handful on the
“I think we’re
done,” Reineking joked of not removing the six remaining trees. “The
ones left have significance and provide a great backdrop.”
Since 2010 —
when Erin Hills was announced as the 2017 host site — the USGA has
faced the common challenges of putting together a major tournament.
come to a place for the first time, there’s challenges,” Hall said.
“We’re learning on the fly and then we adjust.”
Erin Hills and
the USGA are nearing the final adjustments.
fundamentals have been achieved, now it’s refining,” Hall said. “We
know the playbook. Now it’s figuring out which routes to run.”
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