The best spots for spectators at Erin Hills

By Pat Neumuth - Freeman Staff

June 14, 2017

 Jon Wittmann of Appleton uses binoculars to look over the course from the tee box on hole No. 8 Tuesday afternoon during the second day of practice rounds for the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills in the Town of Erin.
John Ehlke/Conley News Service

TOWN OF ERIN ó Golf is a spectator sport like no other. Your ticket into the gate can be a front-row pass, a nosebleed seat or standing-room only. There are also several methods for watching a golf tournament. You can follow your favorite player or group of players, find a seat in the grandstand, bring your own chair and sit around the green to see everyone play or walk around aimlessly.

So with first-round play for the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills set to start Thursday, I scouted for the best (and worst) places to view the championship at Erin Hills.

If you really love a golfer, by all means, follow his group. But get ready to walk. The course is 7,741 total yards. I power-walked for more than two hours, stopped only to take notes to get a sense of the spot and I didnít touch every square foot of the property. Anyone wearing sandals will regret it. I recommend a good pair of walking shoes.

John Morrissett, competitions director at Erin Hills, said walking the course is equal to about a 6-mile walk.

For those who want to sit or stand in one spot and watch the most golf possible, there are two spots you must go to.

The best spot is the top of the grandstand at the 17th green. Grandstand seating is first-come, first-serve. So pretend you are entering Six Flags Great America and rush to those grandstands immediately.

Spectators are allowed to leave the grandstand for 30 minutes and ushers punch a time on your ticket. If you return late, you lose your spot. And this ďbest seat in the houseĒ only works if you get on the top row.

 Fans fill the grandstands on the green of hole No 9 as they watch the second day of practice rounds Tuesday afternoon for the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills.
John Ehlke/Conley News Service

I witnessed two incredible views from here. I could see all play on the 17th green and when I turned around on the top, I got a close, birdís-eye view of players teeing off the No. 8 tee box. I was also close enough to see a playerís reaction on the 12th green and close enough to watch that playerís approach on No. 12. A little further away, I saw the fairway and green for No. 7. And if you have a good set of binoculars, you can see the fairway and green of No. 18. The 18th green is a stretch, but there is a clear view of the hole and you would be able to tell whatís going on by the reaction of the crowd at the 18th-green grandstand.

There is also a concession stand, restrooms and a hydration station nearby, so the amenities are there, too.

If the top of the 17th grandstand is full, donít fret. The consolation prize for the best seat in the house is the No. 8 tee box. I could pretty much see everything that I could from the 17th grandstand. But here, I got a front-row experience of the players teeing off at No. 8. I found the perfect spot where I could see the 17th pin between a gap in the grandstand. I was closer to the 12th green, but I anticipate a much bigger gallery and you may have an obstructed view of the hole. I could also see the No. 7 green and fairway, but again, the heavier crowd could make it more difficult. Being next to the eighth tee box also takes away the viewing of 18.

The bronze-medal of viewing spots is the No. 8 green. If you are lucky, you can get a front-row spot for the No. 8 green. But for this spot to work to the max, set up near the No. 9 tee box, so you can get a close spot for them teeing off. I could also see the 11th hole for this spot. But when I was on the other side of the No. 8 green away from the No. 9 tee box, I couldnít see the tee box and a sign blocked me from viewing No. 11.

There are also other grandstands where when youíre at the top, you can view several holes. The grandstand on No. 6, I saw the entire par-3 hole, plus the No. 2 green, and the No. 3 fairway with the green in the distance. Thereís also a hill near the No. 6 tee box where I viewed the entire hole, the No. 5 green and No. 7 fairway. But I was also standing in knee-high fescue.

Another great viewing spot is the top of the No. 14 grandstand. I could see the entire hole, plus the No. 17 fairway and the back of the golfer teeing off on No. 15. When on top of the grandstand on No. 9, I could see the No. 10 fairway and No. 11 green in the distance. It also has a concession stand connected to it.

From the grandstand on the No. 15 green, I could also see all of 16 as well. From the grandstand on the No. 16 green, I also saw the No. 17 tee. However, these grandstands are the farthest walk as they are on the back of the property.

The No. 18 grandstands are by far the largest and if you have tickets for Sunday and want to see the winner holeout, thatís where you should go. But thatís the only hole you can really see.

The worst spots to view are the grandstands on the No. 1 tee box, the tiny grandstand at the No. 3 green and the grandstand on No. 4.

You wonít be alone in trying to get to these spots. Itís estimated that 30,000 spectators will be roaming Erin Hills at each of the four rounds.

You now have a game plan on where to go. How you execute it is up to you.

Pat Neumuth is The Freemanís sports editor. You can reach him at sports@conleynet.com or by calling
262-513-2667.