This article first appeared in the April 2019 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.
2017 US Open venue Erin Hills will open a new 18-hole putting course, designed by Fry/Straka, in August.
The course covers 62,000 square feet and has 12 feet of elevation change. “It’s unbelievably dramatic,” said Dana Fry. “You might have double-breaking putts that break 10 feet one way and five feet the other way. Over a hill and then up eight or nine feet. The tee might be up high and you’re putting down a steep slope.”
The course was built on the original location of the back tees of the first hole. “The forward two tees before the wetlands stayed,” said Fry. “The back three tees were eliminated. We filled that whole valley floor up and basically spread the dirt over a two-acre area, probably 100,000 square feet, and that’s where we built the putting course.
“We built some new tees to the left, sort of over by the practice putting green. It changes the angle dramatically. It becomes a hard dogleg.”
The putting course has been built with A-4 bentgrass – Fry expects the speed of the grass to be slower than the greens on the course, which typically run at 11 to 12 feet on the Stimpmeter.
“My guess is they would be never more than 10,” said Fry.
Erin Hills competitions and marketing director John Morrissett said: “It’s just another way to expand the experience, whether for daily golfers or for overnight guests. If someone doesn’t want to play 36 holes in a day but wants to spend one or two nights there, there are still other things to do.
“Part of the hope is that players will face putts that they haven’t faced before. It will be entirely for fun.”
The course will be lit at night, Fry said: “I think you’ll have people putting into the late hours of the evening and some gambling going on. You’ll have guys trying outlandish putts.”