US Open Preview: Erin Hills Hole by Hole Preview
Erin Hills makes its debut as home of the 2017 US Open beginning Thursday. Wisconsin might not seem like the ideal place for such a grand tournament, but this particular area of the state resembles Scotland with bent grass, fine fescue, water features, and enormously long holes, totaling 7,812 yards with a par 72.
Here’s a hole-by-hole look at the course.
#1 – 608 yards, Par 5. The size of the course is evident from the get-go and you’ll really have to be accurate if you want to reach the green in 2 and try for an eagle thanks to a cluster of bunkers about 50 yards right of the hole.
#2 – 358 yards, Par 4. After the monster opening, players face the age-old question of trying to shoot towards something they cannot see. Compound that with the fact that this is the smallest green on the course and you can see where the trouble begins.
#3 – 476 yards, Par 4. A central bunker will lure some golfers into shooting too short, not realizing just how far away the ultimate green is, doglegging right and surrounded by the wetland. Any sort of wind factor or inaccurate driving is going to turn this into a nightmare.
#4 – 439 yards, Par 4. Shoot over the muck and hope you miss the bunker on the right side. The central bunkers will be major inhibitors to anyone who doesn’t get into the middle of the green right away. The treacherous bunkers the course has designed are really revealed here; not your classic round sand traps, but winding designs that will be much more difficult to avoid.
#5 505 yards, Par 4. The remarkable natural contours of the area are on full display here. The tee shot is elevated and there’s a long, narrow bunker just in front of a very large green. The hole is famous for being the spot there 2011 US Amateur champion Kelly Kraft won his title on the fifth extra hole of the match.
#6 237 yards, Par 3. It is probably the easiest hole on paper on the course, but a strong west wind can make things a bit more difficult. The green has a false front and slopes away from golfers for a pair of nasty surprises.
#7 607 yards, Par 5. It’s a long, long way to the green, and your problems are just beginning there. Much like #3, #10, and #14, the expansive green here has multiple levels instead of the standard two, which leads to golfers really having to exercise their mental game to get ahead.
#8 492 yards, Par 4. It’s a back and forth dogleg, first right and then back left that will favor golfers who can shape their shots. For once, the green is friendly, with a high rise on the left side that should help balls from heading into the rough when they are overshot.
#9 165 yards, Par 3. Golfer might think they’ve ventured off to the wrong set of tees when they see the 165-yard sign on this one. An elevated tee box and typically windy conditions an make things a struggle. The back left bunker, which you can’t see from the tee box, adds to the change of pace. Double-bogeys here can be an unfortunately common reality.
#10 504 yards, Par 4. A blind tee shot isn’t even the worst of it; that’s the huge amount of rough between it and the expansive fairway. There are bunkers left and right from there as well as lots of undulating elevation changes.
#11 403 yards, Par 4 – One of the simpler holes on the course, it’s a great way to earn back a stroke you probably lost on No. 8. The green is small however, and it’s left-to-right slope can enhance mistakes.
#12 464 yards, Par 4 – This hole probably resembles the slalom at a ski resort in the winter time with its back-and-forth topography. As a bonus, the green is partially hidden.
#13 215 yards, Par 3 – The second-shortest hole on the course sees you start on one hill and hit it to another. Seems simple except for the giant bunker left to the green that has an attached swale that shoots balls into it like a pinball machine. The rest of the misses are no picnic either; the rest of the green misses aren’t much either, a steep slope down to the muck.
#14 613 yards Par 5 – Lando Calrissian would love the 14th; it was built for a gambler as much as any hole on the course. Laying up and playing conservative means your third shot is practically blind at an obtuse angle.
#15 370 yards, Par 4 – There are lots of options on how to get to the green, but anything left short is asking for trouble with three bunkers and a steep hill out front.
#16 200 yards, Par 3 – From the tee box it looks like there’s room on the left side for error, but that notion falls short when the bunkers come into view. A critical hole in the closing stretch as a bunker shot could make a par in a double-bogey in a hurry.
#17 481 yards, Par 4 – Like No. 1 the natural terrain is a far greater challenge than any bunkers, so a clear view of the green is present here.
#18 663 yards, Par 5 – Leaving so soon? The temptation is to launch your second shot towards the green, but a trio of bunkers there will gobble up all but the longest shot. Hitting right is the better solution.