As a previous Wisconsin resident who lived 24 years in the nearby village of Slinger, I am more than excited that a little unincorporated town named Erin is hosting the most prestigious United States Golf Association championship June 15–18. The course itself is derived from a corn field that began to take shape from 2004 to 2006. Geographically, the course is situated about 45 minutes northwest of Milwaukee and is completely surrounded by rural neighborhoods, farm fields, and cows. Like Whistling Straits in Kohler (Haven), Wisconsin it is a links layout but is not accompanied by Lake Michigan. The course itself is a masterfully designed links layout that can be stretched out to over 8,000 yards but will realistically play at about 7,800 yards.
Erin Hills is a rarity when it comes to an inland links-designed golf course. The rich and fertile soil is relatable to that of a seaside links course in Scotland or Ireland. The sloping terrain, blind tees, and approach shots will test a player’s patience and energy. As someone who has played the course with a Fit-bit, I personally logged a 7.2-mile walk through the course. Best case scenario if a competitor hits the middle of each fairway and walks directly to the green on every hole, the walk is still over 6 miles long, which isn’t including walking uphill and downhill. The course itself will be an unforgettable experience for players. The course already has hosted the 2011 U.S. Amateur as a “tune-up” to see how the course held up to the best players. That year, Kelly Kraft beat Patrick Cantlay in the 36-hole finale.
As for the players competing, Dustin Johnson is the odds-on favorite to win coming in currently at (+650) according to Bovada Sportsbook in Las Vegas. Top favorites also include Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Jason Day. The story of the U.S. Open, though, always starts with local qualifying, which began back on May 2. The absolute goal of any amateur or professional player is to go through two grueling qualifying stages. This year, 9,485 players entered 114 local qualifying sites that began May 2. St. George resident Nick Killpack has qualified through local qualifying and will now compete for a chance to play at Erin Hills on June 5.
There is always a story in the U.S. Open, which makes it a bit controversial at times. Fox Sports announcing golf is hardly better than hearing Johnny Miller talk about his 63 every year. The USGA hopefully doesn’t torch another golf course like it did in 2015 at Chambers Bay, and I personally hope there aren’t fans out there that don’t have anything better to do than call a rules infraction on a player from their television. Nevertheless, the story begins with a great vision derived from local Wisconsin residents’ desire to hold a U.S. Open and will end with a true champion on Father’s Day.