Erin Hills ready for the spotlight as US Open week arrives

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    The ninth hole at Erin Hills, which hosts the US Open this week

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    The rolling landscape was created by glacial movement thousands of years ago

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    The course is predominantly fine fescue on the fairways and out-of-play areas

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    Erin Hills has been closed for eight months in preparation for the US Open

Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

The golf course at Erin Hills in Wisconsin is welcoming US Open competitors this week following an eight-month closure in preparation for the tournament.

Designed by golf course architects Dr Mike Hurdzan and Dana Fry, and Golf Digest’s architecture editor Ron Whitten, the course makes its US Open debut just 11 years after first opening to the public.

It lies on the Kettle Moraine, an area of Wisconsin that has a rolling landscape formed thousands of years ago by glacial movement. The natural undulations on the site meant little earth movement was required to create the course.

“We thought, man, we ought to be able to find eighteen holes out here without having to manipulate things too much,” said Whitten in an interview published in the American Society of Golf Course Architects’ By Design magazine. “From the beginning, we all felt like Mother Nature is the best architect, let’s try to follow her lead.”

“The scale and setting is so grand it’s almost unbelievable when you see it,” said Fry. “Your eyes can’t take it all in.”

“There are lots of pieces of property that have ups and downs to them,” said Hurdzan. “But what makes Erin Hills unique in my mind is that it was a perfect rhythm of that the humps and hollows didn’t come too quickly together, nor were they too far spread out.”

Initial feedback from players has been positive.

“I’ve heard a lot about Erin Hills over the past four or five years,” said Rory McIlroy in an interview with the USGA’s Mike Trostel following a practice round. “It’s definitely lived up to expectations.”

“I really enjoyed it,” said Justin Rose, another former champion. “I really didn’t know what to expect… people want to compare it to Chambers [Bay, the 2015 US Open venue], but I think it’s completely different to that.”

The US Open runs from 12-18 June.