It’s the longest course in major history
The USGA have said the official yardage for Erin Hills is 7,741 yards – that’s an entire par-4 longer than Augusta National. All four of its par-5s exceed 600 yards, there are two par-5s measuring more than 500 yards and three of the four par-3s stretch beyond 200 yards.
It has hosted big events before
Despite being only 11-years-old, the first-time host venue has already been tested under tournament conditions at the 2011 US Amateur, where Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Russell Henley all featured and got to the matchplay stages. It also hosted the 2008 US Women’s Amateur Public Links.
Even in normal conditions, it’s tough
Just look at the slope rating. Slope measures the difficulty of a golf course on a scale measuring from 55 (very easy) to a maximum of 155 (extremely difficult). A course of so-called standard difficulty is 113. Erin Hills’ is 145. That’s slightly less than Bethpage Black (152) but greater than Oakmont (142).
It’s difficult to categorise
Let’s be clear, it maybe ‘links-like’ but it isn’t a links. “It’s not parkland, heathland or moorland and, on closer examination, it’s really not a typical links,” said competitions director John Morrissett. “Our sub-soil, for example, isn’t particularly sandy. It’s more made up of glacial till. It’s also a largely aerial course where you really have to carry your ball all the way to the green.” According to the USGA, they want you to call it a ‘heartland’ course.
A first US Open for Wisconsin
While the PGA Championship has been hosted at Whistling Straits in 2010 and 2015, this year marks the first time the US Open has visited Wisconsin. “It’s a great honour and one we take very seriously and, as a result, we’ve been closed all year,” added Morrissett.
It’s located in the ‘Kettle Moraine’
The section of Wisconsin that Erin Hills is located is called the ‘Kettle Moraine’. This is due to it varied topography that came about as a result of receding glaciers 10,000 years ago. As a result, designers went lengths to move very little ground in order to ensure that it remained as natural to its surroundings as possible.
The bunkers are hellish
Adam Scott has already called them ‘severe’ – and rightly so. There are 138 of them and, unlike bunkers at most courses, there are almost no flat bottoms. “These really are hazards,” said Mike Davis.
It’s not like Chambers Bay
With its appearance of no trees and fescue, it’s easy to liken Erin Hills to fellow first-time host venue Chambers Bay in 2015. However, that’s not the case and Mike Davis has in fact said it’s more like Shinnecock Hills. “The grass on our greens is different to Chambers Bay, too,” added Morrissett. “Their greens were made of fescue. Ours are A-4 bentgrass, so I don’t think there should be any cause for concern there.”
It’s a par-72
For the first time in 25 years, the US Open course will be a par-72, moving away from the par-70s which are generally played at the championship. The last time there was a par-72 course was at Pebble Beach in 1992, when the 502-yard second hole was still played as a par-5.