Steve Trattner: The Darker Side of Erin Hills

If you watched any of the US Open this week on television, you likely never heard the name Steve Trattner. In other circumstances that would be odd, considering he spent so much of his lifetime finding the course that came to be at Erin Hills; promoting it; finding investors; helping design it; even going out with a backhoe to change the holes around in advance of the 2009 US Amateur Open.

Trattner was not on hand for the Open, instead watching it on a 19-inch television set inside his prison cell.

For all the great things Trattner did for Wisconsin golf, the event that defines him took place in early January 2006 when his wife, Sin Lam, told him she was going through with her plans for a divorce.

She also shoved him in the chest, which caused something in Trattner to snap. He responded by slamming her face into the floor, punching her, and strangling her.

He then drug her dead body into the family living room, covered it in blankets and went to sleep. The next morning he told the couple’s two children, then aged 7 and 9, that their mother was asleep and not to wake her. He took them to school as if nothing was wrong.

He then ran some errands and had lunch with a friend, not mentioning the crime, before returning home and calling police, but not before putting a bottle of sleeping pills next to his wife’s body.

Lam had originally challenged Trattner to quit his day job and pursue interest in Erin Hills, but as the project spiraled out of control financially, she worried that he was drinking heavily and no plans to help pay the bills.

The state prosecutor asked for 15-to-25 years in prison for Trattner; the judge gave him 35.


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