The U.S. Open at Erin Hills Golf Course, located in Wisconsin, is now completed, and Brooks Koepka was victorious against the many great, club-wielding golf warriors as they duked it out to the finish. The experience at this year’s U.S. Open was one to remember, whether you were 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 make the trip up to Wisconsin, I had a chance to take in the natural beauty of Hartford in Washington County. With its lush landscape, dairy farms, and breathtaking wilderness it made it feel like a world away from Chicago.
When arriving in Wisconsin, you could feel the major championship excitement in the air, when you started to see many police officers, as well as residents using their property as parking lots. You knew you were about to arrive at Erin Hills, the host of the 2017 U.S. Open.
As I drove up the gravel road to reach the Erin Hills parking lot, the fences were covered with the USGA logo. Approaching the lot, I looked to the left and witnessed Erin Hills for the very first time. It was stunning.
The practice green and spectator stands were in close proximity, with the Wisconsin wilderness out in the distance. Erin Hills designers Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten always mention how natural the course is.
You can see how natural the contours are as your eyes gleam on it. It could 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.
There were many things around the course to keep fans busy, from massive merchandise tents to plenty of concession stands. Fox Sports even had their own observation deck, where fans can relax, and get a great view of the action.
When I walked towards the Media Center, I walked past a farmhouse where they housed golf carts for players and others who needed to get around. As expected, the inside of the media tent was massive. Upon entering, other members of the media were 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 in the atmosphere before I started working. The weekend as you know, was a nail-biter, with numerous players hanging out towards the top of the leaderboard. Although the scores were pretty low for a U.S. Open, it was still a great tournament, because everyone was fighting for the title.
Koepka would come out of nowhere to dominate on Sunday to win his first major championship. He certainly earned it and has quietly been one of the best players not to win a major, even though he’s still only 27-years-old.
The interview room was well appointed, with a podium that looked more like a fancy TV studio desk for a news network. It was surprisingly cold in there, but nonetheless, it was very nice.
While in the interview room I asked Brooks if the major win gave him a sigh of relief and if it took pressure off of him.
“No, I don’t think so,” Koepka said. “I worked my tail off the last six months and made some changes, grinding every day in the gym trying to make sure I was physically ready and strong enough to be able to swing the club the way I want to”.
You can hear his full response at the 6:35 mark 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 the tournament), it was jam-packed on Sunday.
As I was walking, 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 a late push up the leaderboard.
Getting a chance to see arguably the most talked about hole at number nine, was also pretty amazing. 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 hole 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 unique design makes Erin Hills a fun golf course to watch and play on.
The course also has one of the most dramatic 18th holes in all of golf. As you stand on the tee box, you see the clubhouse, the Wisconsin wilderness, and the legendary Holy Hill, all staring at you. It is a beautiful sight to see.
Like Chambers Bay which hosted the U.S. Open in 2015, Erin Hills is still an infant, however, its future is bright as it will host more majors down the road. It was an exciting experience, watching the U.S. Open in Wisconsin, with another new course, and yet another young major champion. Golf Fans certainly won’t forget this experience anytime soon.
A round of applause for Erin Hills, as we move forward to The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, as the sunsets on Washington County in Wisconsin.
— Colin GP Mieczkowski (@ChiGolfRadio) June 19, 2017
Colin GP Mieczkowski
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