With the Holy Hill
National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians in the
background, patrons walk Erin Hills golf course Monday
afternoon during the practice rounds for the 117th U.S.
Download high-resolution jpeg of this image
John Ehlke/Conley News
TOWN OF ERIN — For seven years, every nail banged into a
siding, every pile of dirt moved, every tweak to Erin
Hills Golf Course was done with the 2017 U.S. Open
Championship in mind.
Monday, all those projects, big and small, were shown
off to the world’s best golfers and thousands of fans
with the first official practice rounds for the 117th
U.S. Open, marking the beginning of championship week
for professional golf’s second major of the 2017 season.
U.S. Open has arrived in Wisconsin and in Washington
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said John Morrissett, Erin
Hills’ competitions director. “It’s neat seeing the
game’s best players, the people we see on TV week in and
week out playing a course, a place you know so well, you
go to every day.
“It’s almost like all of a sudden seeing a celebrity
sitting at your dining room table. It’s kind of like
your home. They’re in your home, if you will.”
times, it seemed like this day would never get here.
“When the announcement was made, when you know, five,
six, seven years out, the U.S. Open is coming, it’s
like, ‘OK. That’s nice, that’s great,’” Morrissett said.
Erin Hills was announced as the host of the 2017 U.S.
Open during the week of the 2010 championship at Pebble
Beach in California. That day was June 16, 2010, a mere
2,493 days ago.
Along the way, there have been several milestones that
have helped pass the time. Morrissett said his first
milestone was when the final putt fell last year at
Oakmont in Pennsylvania and Dustin Johnson was crowned
2016 U.S. Open champion. The next milestone was when
Jan. 1 came and the next one after that was Media Day on
of course, the last came Monday as tee shots were struck
by the world’s elite golfers as they tried to learn more
about this course, unknown to so many.
you can see, the work that’s been done as far as
hospitality and the tenting around this golf course is
second to none,” said Andy North, two-time U.S. Open
champion (1978 and 1985) and a Wisconsin native. “It’s
going to be great to see the fans of Wisconsin come out
and support it as well.
“We’ve had a couple of PGAs, a Women’s Open. But I think
this is going to be really special to have a
championship that I really care about right here in your
Morrissett came to Erin Hills about six weeks after the
announcement at Pebble Beach. That ended a 17-year run
for Morrissett in the rules department with the USGA.
When Morrissett arrived, some of the several
modifications made to Erin Hills in the last seven years
had already started.
2009, Andy Ziegler bought the course from Bob Lang.
August 2010, the course was reopening for the first time
since fall 2009 to rebuild the 10th green.
lot was going on then,” Morrissett said. And it didn’t
“There’s been so much,” he said.
Among the changes since then include:
Removal of several trees;
Building a significant road network;
A clubhouse was built;
Target greens in the practice area;
A new practice putting green;
Moving the clubhouse;
A new green for No. 3; “That’s a lot of projects,”
Morrissett said. “The list goes on and on.”
Morrissett has helped oversee the course’s growth as
each passing day meant another day closer to the
course’s debut on the world stage with the U.S. Open.
Mixed in was a series of tournaments, both collegiate
and amateur, that began to put Erin Hills on the minds
2008, the course hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public
Links, won by Tiffany Joh. In 2011, the men’s U.S.
Amateur Championship was at Erin Hills, won by Kelly
Kraft. In 2015, the Wisconsin State Golf Association’s
Men’s Amateur Championship was here, won by Eddie Wajda.
look back on how far the facility has come in the last
2,000-plus days is almost surreal.
“It’s been a lot of big projects and a lot has been done
to get here,” Morrissett said. “When you look back at
all of that, you kind of get tired, just looking back
and think about everything that’s gone on.
“But at the same time, you’re growing a business. The
number of golfers here have grown significantly since
2011 through 2016. Every aspect has been touched on and