Diana Murphy, USGA
president, answers a question while sitting on a panel
with other members of the USGA and Erin Hills Wednesday
afternoon during the U.S. Open Championship Preview Day
at Erin Hills in the town of Erin.
John Ehlke/Daily News
TOWN OF ERIN — Washington County Administrator Joshua
Schoemann was in a bit of awe with who was walking past
him: Milwaukee Brewers great “Stormin’” Gorman Thomas.
Moments later, Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd
walked past. Former Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne
Sandberg wasn’t far away.
“Gorman Thomas in Washington County?” Schoemann said
Wednesday during media day at Erin Hills in preparation
for the 117th U.S. Open, which begins with
practice-round play June 12. “That doesn’t happen every
buzz, the excitement is growing.
“The USGA is incredibly excited to introduce Erin Hills
to the golf world,” said Mike Davis, executive director
and chief executive officer for the USGA.
From left, Murphy, Stu Francis, USGA Executive Director
and CEO Mike Davis, Jeff Hall and Jim Reinhart with Erin
Hills answer questions.
John Ehlke/Daily News
Jeff Hall, the USGA managing director, rules and open
championships, added Erin Hills is primed to become the
next iconic golf course in the world, alongside Pebble
Beach, Shinnecock Hills, Pinehurst No. 2, Augusta
National and St. Andrew’s.
“It’s the game’s newest grand stage, and we look forward
to helping make that introduction to the golf world next
month,” he said.
Washington County and southeastern Wisconsin are ready
“It’s an excellent opportunity for our county and we’re
really excited about it,” Schoemann said.
Since June 2010, Washington County has known Erin Hills
was going to host the 2017 U.S. Open. To be this close
is exciting, but also a relief.
Brian Depasquale holds the U.S. Open Championship trophy
as former Milwaukee Brewers player Gorman Thomas points
out names he recognizes Wednesday afternoon during the
U.S. Open Championship Preview Day event at Erin Hills
in the town of Erin.
John Ehlke/Daily News
Planning began as early as 2015.
“There’s a lot of pieces to it and because of that time
frame to work with, it’s been put together pretty
thoughtfully,” Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt
said. “Obviously, the USGA does this every year with
multiple championships. They know what they’re looking
for. It’s more of a matter trying to find the
Schoemann said it’s exciting to say the U.S. Open at
Erin Hills is less than 30 days away, rather than
“It’s a little bit surreal, right?” he said. “Anything
you anticipate for that long and it actually gets here,
it takes a little bit to soak in. I think once we start
seeing the tens of thousands of people start to lay foot
on Erin Hills and in Washington County, it’ll really
start to sink in.”
People are coming from all over the country and the
world to witness — what several USGA officials said
Wednesday — history. Fans and volunteers are coming from
Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, South
Dakota to name a few, but also Winnipeg and British
father and I attended last year’s championship at
Oakmont and we are hooked,” said Tyler Pettit of Grand
Rapids, Michigan, in an email. “This is the closest it
will be and it’s an opportunity unlike any other.”
Tanya Tressel is attending the championship from
Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, Canada, calling the
trip a “bucket list item.”
Tressel is also a Phil Mickelson fan and her husband
loves Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
“Wisconsin was a win-win for us,” Tressel said in an
Stuart Francis, USGA executive committee member, said
the global coverage of the championship — about 45 hours
worth — will reach 190 countries.
the eyes of the world will certainly be upon Wisconsin
in the next few weeks,” he said.
Schoemann said he and other county officials don’t
believe there is pressure to make sure everything goes
without a hitch. And the effects won’t end after the
championship or in 2018.
expect you’re going to see a lot of economic growth from
this,” Schoemann said. “The USGA, they tend to go to
courses over and over and over. So, if this tournament
goes as we think it might go and Mother Nature plays her
role, we might see the USGA back. With that, I expect
more and more tourists, more and more people to want to
come to this area.”
Davis hinted at that possibility.
“Really when you think about it, this is a new venue for
us, and we historically go to many of the tried and true
venues that have been around in many cases for over a
century,” he said. “So this is really a welcoming party,
and I suspect that this will be the first of many.”
Schmidt and his department will oversee most of the law
enforcement responsibilities, but will have help from
several levels — local, regional, state and federal.
addition to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the
sheriff departments for Waukesha and Dodge counties will
assist. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and
the Wisconsin State Patrol will also help.
Schmidt said several staff members within his
department, including some from the jail staff, will put
in extra hours throughout the week to not only conduct
law enforcement at the championship, but also to fulfill
the needs of the county’s citizens.
“They’re supplying manpower under Wisconsin’s mutual aid
laws and they’ll be reimbursed (by the USGA), just like
our department,” Schmidt said.
Washington County, are you ready?
“For most people, it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime
thing,” Schmidt said.
“It’s going to be neat,” Schoemann said.