Set within an enormous property that extends to over 600 acres, the golf course at Erin Hills only opened in 2006 but it has already hosted the US Amateur Championship in 2011 (won by Kelly Kraft) and the US Open in 2017, which Brooks Koepka won, equalling the US Open’s lowest winning score of 16 under par.
Robert Lang was the man behind Erin Hills and it was he who purchased enough land beside the small town of Erin, near Milwaukee, primarily to guarantee golfers solitude from the outside world but also to allow enough off-course space for any major USGA tournaments that might come his way. In October 2009, CEO and co-founder of Artisan Partners, Andrew Ziegler, purchased the Erin Hills property.
On a rugged landscape formed by glacial action thousands of years ago, little earth was moved when forming the course, resulting in one of the most natural layouts to be found anywhere in the United States. Make no mistake, though, Erin Hills is golf on an epic scale, a big course in a vast landscape, where the overall length can vary from a modest 5,434 yards to a whopping 7,845 yards.
On the advice of the USGA, several changes, mainly on the front nine, have been made to the course since it opened, with a ridge cut down on the opening fairway, the green on the second hole increased in size and the tough par four 8th extended to nearly 500 yards from the tips.
Around 20 bunkers were also incorporated around the layout but the most significant enhancement was the elimination of the quirky, blind par three 7th hole - built in homage to “Dell,” the famous 5th hole at Lahinch - which was the second of back-to-back par threes.
The old holes 8 and 9 now play as 7 and 8 with the once-optional, par three “Bye” hole now completing the front nine. - Perhaps the designers always knew the routing would have to be altered so they kept a spare hole up their sleeves for such an eventuality?
Erin Hills is not for the faint hearted as it presents a stern golfing challenge but for those who want their golf game examined, this is as good a test as there is. Thirty-seven bedrooms are available on property (including ten guest rooms above a very homely clubhouse) for visitors who wish to savour the full Wisconsin golf experience.
I played Erin Hills on a recent trip to Wisconsin. The course if about 50 miles from the Kohler resort on lake Michigan, and it's not very hard to take in both destinations on a trip to this area. I really enjoyed the course and it should make an excellent venue for the 2017 U.S. Open
The course is set in rolling farmland and apparently very little dirt was moved in the construction. The holes have a nice rolling feel to them. The fairways are defined by thick and tenacious fescue rough, and if the wind is up and the rough is thick the best players in the world will struggle with this course.
The green complexes are brilliant and the approach shot often has to be very precise to get close to the hole. The routing has the holes running in almost every direction so that the wind has a different effect on each hole.
The course has a nice combination of short and long par 4's and the par 3's can be played at slightly difference differences offering up a nice variety of strategic options. Holes 2 and 11 can certainly play as driveable par 4's which seems to be the fancy of modern championship golf course setup. A couple of holes were somewhat undistinguished, specifically 5 and 17, which keep me from giving the course a 6 ball rating, but this is a great layout that is enjoyable providing you play from the correct set of tees. There are 6 sets of tees, from a women's gold tee at 5082 yards to the back tees of 7800 yards. I would let the excellent caddies guide you to the proper teeing ground.
Erin Hills is a nice layout that will probably move up in the rankings as the years go by. I would make every effort to play here and enjoy this fine layout. Read my full story here: The Wisconsin "Pearl" Golf Trip
Located 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, the architects uncovered, rather than manufactured, the most impressive holes they could find on the property. The length of the course is barbaric from the black tees (7,823 yards) and even from the blue tees, it takes a foursome five and half hours to get round. So this place isn’t for casual players looking to enjoy the countryside for an afternoon while waiting for a Packers game to commence. Click the link to read Fergal’s full report on Erin Hills.