(featured image: USGA, usopen.com)
The USGA just concluded their live broadcast of U.S. Open Preview day, where the USGA brass invite media to a panel discussion about the course and set-up for the Championship.
Here are some quick hitters on what Mike Davis had to say about Erin Hills:
• He first visited the property in August 2004 (before it was built) to check out the land and was extremely impressed.
• Hurdzan/Fry/Whitten are apart of a small league of architects that were/are alive to see their work played in a U.S. Open
• Original owner Bob Lang and his family will be onsite during the tournament.
Lang had a huge involvement in the course but had to sell it because of financial problems. His story and the crazy story of how Erin Hills came to be.
• Last Open to be held in the Midwest was 2003 @ Olympia Fields
• This is not a links course, but a true american heartland classic.
• The fairways @ Erin Hills have a lot of movement to them. There are hardly any flat lies. They are bouncy – the ball will have a lot of movement once it hits the ground. Fairways are quite wide for a U.S. Open but the contours and wind will effectively narrow them. Because of the Kettle Moraine lay out, there will be a lot of semi-blind shots out there which requires the players to commit to the shot.
• The greens are laid up on a dune or down in a saddle/valley created by dunes. The greens will be A-4 Bent grass, which makes for pristine conditions and a lot of putts made. Greens are relatively larger to other U.S. Open venues but have subtleties to them that will make you think, even on your approach to the green. Surrounding most greens are closely mown areas that will fall away from the green – this leads player to think about what shot he chooses to play up slope (putt, chip, pitch).
• The bunkers are actual HAZARDS. It will be very tough playing from them because they are natural to the area, caused by erosion. The angles and lies in bunkers will be extreme (down, up, side).
• Course is designed for wind, which is very common and comes from all directions. If conditions are firm and windy, it makes players think that extra bit.
• Want to utilize the various tee boxes that course provides. A hole may play differently all four days in respect to teeing grounds and length. Most likely will not play typical scorecard yardage on any day. This is the first par 72 in the U.S. Open since 1992. Even though the course will be long on paper, the bouncy, undulating fairways and “extra par 5” relative to other Opens will effectively shorten the course.
• Speeds of the greens will depend on conditions (wind, softness)
• The four par 5’s all play in different directions, and depending on the tee used, they can all be reachable. They all possess a risk/reward aspect. The thought of turning any into par 4’s was never a thought, because it would compromise the architecture of the hole.
• The par 3 6th can play upwards of 250 yards from back tee to back green, and the par 3 9th is only 135. But, missing the green on the 9th can turn it into the “fifth par 5 on the course.”
• The par 4 2nd and 15th can both be drivable holes. The last six holes include two par 3’s, two par 4’s, and two par 5’s, and offer an exciting finish.
The broadcast can be seen at usopen.com.