The U.S. Open has come and gone ... I hope we get it again

By Nicholas Dettmann

June 24, 2017

For a long time in the days, weeks, months and years leading up to the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills Golf Course, I consistently told everyone I could about how neat and important having the championship in Washington County was going to be.

Now that it’s been here and gone, I think we can all agree it was exciting to see our community in the center of the sporting world for millions around the world to see. In addition, the championship was a smashing success and Erin Hills has made a compelling case to host the championship again someday.

The USGA certainly believes so.

“We could not have had a better U.S. Open,” said Mike Davis, USGA executive director. “Erin Hills was superb in terms of the golf course, the operations, the state of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, the surrounding communities could not have been any more welcoming. The volunteers were terrific. For a place that’s only 11 years old, we could not have been more happy and just delighted.

“We got a great champion with Brooks Koepka. We certainly look forward to coming back to Erin Hills, hopefully multiple times in the future.”

So, the question is when it’ll be back, not if. Well, we’ll have to wait at least 10 years. I hope we won’t have to wait long to find out.

The U.S. Open sites are booked through 2026. So the earliest the championship could come back is 2027.

Unfortunately, it’s a guessing game to put together any possible prediction.

Hopefully you saw our 32page full-color preview magazine for the championship. If you didn’t, we still have copies available here at our office, 100 S. Sixth Ave., West Bend, if you’d like to pick one up.

In the magazine was a story about this year’s U.S. Open was the first in the Midwest since 2003. The story looked at that championship, but also how and why it took 14 years for the championship to return to the nation’s heartland.

Mike Butz, USGA Senior Managing Director, Open Championships and Association Relations, said there is no pattern when it comes to determining host sites.

For example, Butz said, the first U.S. Open to be held in the southeast was in 1976 in Georgia and didn’t return to the region until 1999 in North Carolina. The championship hasn’t been in southern California since 1948, but will get the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

In 2015, Chambers Bay in Washington was the first U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest.

“We try not to get caught up in geography,” Butz said.

He added, “New boards add new interests.”

Look at next year’s site — Shinnecock Hills in New York. Shinnecock Hills gets the championship for the first time since 2004, but will get it again in 2026. Long before that, though, Shinnecock Hills waited 90 years after hosting it 1896 to get it again in 1986.

In 2022, The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, gets the championship for the first time since 1988.

Then you’ve got Oakmont, the 2016 host. Oakmont gets the championship again in 2025, continuing a string of hosting it at least once in the last seven decades (1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016 and 2025).

Erin Hills had a chance to surge onto the golf spotlight as the next legendary or iconic course. The pictures, the videos were breathtaking all week. The course is great, despite the criticism the course unfairly got, such as the fairways being too wide for the players, making it easy on them.

But let’s give credit where it’s due. The players are just that good. On top of that, the conditions favored low scores. Maybe next time, the conditions are different and the scores are higher.

The U.S. Open bills itself as golf’s ultimate test and several players, if not all of them, will agree they were tested. Again, let’s give credit where it’s due, the players hit shots. Who could’ve predicted Justin Thomas’ ridiculous shot on No. 18 on Saturday that led to an eagle, putting a 3-wood within 10 feet of the pin from more than 300 yards away? Kudos to a great shot.

Sure, the winning score was 16-under. But, keep this in mind — six of the top-10 ranked players in the world, including each of the top three, didn’t make the cut.

Erin Hills deserves another U.S. Open. We should want it back. How could you not want an event projected to boost the state’s economy by more than $100 million back?

Nicholas Dettmann is managing editor of the Daily News.