The U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin is finished, and Brooks Koepka came out victorious as many great, club wielding warriors duked it out. The experience at this year’s U.S. Open was one to remember, whether you’re a fan, member of the media, volunteer, etc.
Fortunately for me, Erin Hills was a two hour drive from my home, not knowing that this major venue was so close. As I left to go make the trip to Wisconsin, I had a chance to take in the natural beauty of Washington County. With so many lush green, dairy farms, and breathtaking wilderness, it felt like a world away from Chicago.
You knew you were getting close to major championship goodness, when you started to see many officers, as well as residents using their property as parking lots. You knew you were close to Erin Hills, the host of the 2017 U.S. Open.
As I went through the gravel road to reach the parking lot, fences with USGA logos, covered each side. Getting closer to the lot, I look to the left, and witness Erin Hills for the very first time. It was stunning.
The practice green, stands and such were present, with the Wisconsin wilderness out in the distance. Designers Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten always mention how natural the course is. You can see how natural the contours are as you as your eyes gleam on it.
It could very possibly be, the most natural course since the design of Sand Hills. That’s saying a lot, comparing the young girl Erin, to one of the most famous golf courses on the planet.
As I walked through the gate, you see the USGA logo placed almost everywhere, knowing that you’re not covering your local high school golf tournament anymore. You realize that this really is “major”.
There were many things around the course to keep fans busy, from massive merchandise tents, to plenty of concession stands, to the “USGA Experience” spot, there was enough ways for fans to enjoy the tournament. Fox Sports even had their own fan observation spot, where fans can relax, and get a great view of the action.
When I walked towards to Media Center, you walk past a farm house where they apparently house carts for players, and others who need to get around. As expected, the inside of the media tent was massive, as other members of the media are cranking away on their laptops, and preparing their cameras to head out on the course.
As I found my spot, and settled down, I wanted to take things in a bit before I started working. the weekend as we know, was a nail biter, with numerous players hanging out towards the top of the leaderboard, just chillin’. Although the scores were pretty low for a U.S. Open, it was still a great tournament, because everyone was fighting for the title.
I don’t know if I thought Koepka would go H.A.M on Sunday to win his first major. He certainly earned it, and has very quietly been on the “best not to win a major” list, even though he’s still only 27-years-old.
The interview room was fairly decked out, with a podium that looked more like a fancy TV studio desk for a news network. It was surprisingly cold in there (brrr!), but nonetheless, it was very nice.
I asked Brooks if the major win gave him a sigh of relief, and if it took pressure off of him. He simply said “no”, but you can hear his full response at 6:35 in the Golf Channel video below.
I could’ve stayed in the media tent all day, but I wanted to go out and explore the course a bit more. As you can imagine (especially if you attended), it was jam-packed on Sunday, and as I walked, a section was roped off as Matt Kuchar came walking towards the next hole. Of course the chants of “Kuucch!” came, as the Olympic bronze medalist was trying to make late push up the leaderbaord.
I didn’t have a chance to experience the entire course, but getting a chance to see arguably the most talked about hole at number nine, was pretty cool. As I may have mentioned before, what makes Erin Hills so awesome, is how often it changes. The front and back nine almost work like two different tracks.
The ninth is a reminder of the design changes. A green surrounded by bunkers is something you don’t see as much on the front nine. This type of unique design makes Erin Hills a fun course to watch golf on, and to play on.
Even better, the course is open to the public. No snooty country club fees, and you can play golf on a U.S. Open course, that will most certainly host a PGA Championship int he future.
The course also has one of the most amazing, and dramatic 18th holes in all of golf. As you stand on the tee box, you see the beautiful clubhouse, the Wisconsin wilderness, on the legendary Holy Hill, all staring at you. It’s one of the prettiest sights you’ll see, on a stunning golf course.
Like Chambers Bay which hosted the U.S. Open in 2015, Erin Hills is still a babe. But, it will grow, and become something special, as it will host more majors down the road.
It was a fun experience, watching the U.S. Open in Wisconsin, and with another new course, and yet another young champion, fans won’t certainly forget anytime soon. A round of applause for Erin Hills, as we move forward to The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, as the sun sets on Washington County in Wisconsin, and at Erin Hills.
— Colin GP Mieczkowski (@ChiGolfRadio) June 19, 2017
Colin GP Mieczkowski
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