2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills Course Preview

After two grueling months we have finally made it to another major.  The 117th U.S. Open will take us to Erin, Wisconsin, a town you have probably never heard of until Erin Hills Golf Course was announced host of the U.S. Open.  From the local qualifiers, there will be plenty of amateurs that dream of hoisting the U.S. Open Championship Trophy.  Apparently the U.S. Open doesn’t need a special name to distinguish the trophy.

If any of you were wondering why some of us were following 36 holes of golf on Monday, June 5th, it was because there were plenty of players trying to make it through the section qualifiers for a chance to participate in the U.S. Open.  This is what makes the U.S. open so unique.  There will be plenty of names on the leaderboard that you probably have never heard of.  The “longest day of golf” consists of 36 holes of players fighting for their spot in the U.S. Open.  Lucas Glover was the last section qualifier to go on to win.  Narrative Street?

If you are team course history, this week will completely flip your research upside down as the U.S. Open rotates hosts of the tournament.  This year the U.S. Open will take us to Erin Hills.  The course has hills in the name for a reason.  Thousands of years ago the land was formed by glaciers defined as the term Kettle Moraines.  For those of you that didn’t major in geography, a moraine is created when glaciers collide creating various hills and valleys.  These rolling hills will be obvious when DJ gets a good bounce on his drive that rolls 400+ yards.  It is very unique that about 90% of the land wasn’t altered to create the course and this is simply the beauty of the original land.

Now that you are all going to pass your Wisconsin geography exam, let’s dig into the course.  Erin Hills comes in at a solid 7,693 yards.  The yardage will fluctuate throughout the weekend as tee boxes are altered. A key example of this will be on the weekend when the 15th hole is set as a driveable hole. The fairways are lined with long fescue grass that will be very very difficult to punch out of.  The greens are seeded with bentgras.  It is important to note that only the top 60 and ties will make it through the weekend.  Getting all 6 of your players through the cut will put you ahead of the field and ultimately give you a shot at a million dollars.  Erin Hills hosted the 2011 U.S. Amateur Open so there are a few players in this field that participated in that tournament.  However,  I wouldn’t put much insight into that as the course was setup different for the amateurs and was 6 years ago.

When looking at the scorecard and seeing a course listed at 7,693 yards, you may focus on targeting the bombers.  However, Kelly Kraft (who won the 2011 U.S. Amateur Open and is NOT in the field) went on to say that if you hit the ball in the fairway the course doesn’t play that long.  It is imperative that our players are accurate off the tee to use the course to their advantage with the long rolls that are possible from the hills. The fairways are also approximately 50% wider than your typical U.S. Open.  This should give the players some flexibility to crush their drives.  You don’t want to get crazy since missing the fairways will put you in some nasty fescue grass that will have you looking at bogey or worse.I

From looking at the greens and surrounding bunkers, it will be VERY important to target the players with accurate iron play.  The bunkers were created to be actual hazards.  The bunkers are so difficult that players may have to shoot away from the green just get out of the bunker.  The greens will play firm and fast as well.  Missing the greens is something that we will want to avoid at all costs.  There are also many false fronts that can fool the golfers in their approach shots.  With the closely mowed grass surrounding the greens, it won’t be surprising the see the balls that miss the green end up a ways from the green.  Let’s just target those players that excel in their iron play.

Past Winners

2016 Dustin Johnson
2015 Jordan Spieth
2014 Martin Kaymer
2013 Justin Rose
2012 Webb Simpson
2011 Rory McIlroy

Weather

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This will be very important to monitor as one of the course’s biggest defense is the wind.  Since there are no trees on the course, the wind can really gust in the open field. As of today, Thursday is the only day that could have an impact from the wind.  However, at 15 mph, these professional golfers shouldn’t be affected too much by this.  We will monitor as we get closer to see if there is a significant change in the forecast.

Key Statistics

SG: Tee to Green:  Bet you didn’t expect to see this statistic for Erin Hills, right?  At 7,693 yards with numerous hazards surrounding the greens, we are going to need to target those ball strikers.  It will be imperative to keep the ball in the fairways to give us a chance for some roll in the drive.  Following a good drive, the second shot will be even more important.  The greens will be firm and fast with numerous hazards surrounding the green.  We will need players that are solid from the tee box to the putting surface.

Greens in Regulation %:  The greens at Erin Hills are firm and quick and surrounded by DIFFICULT bunkers.  We want to target the players with the highest GIR%.  This will help us find the players that are really dialed in with their approach shots.  The more greens our players hit, the less we have to sweat.

Scrambling:  Let’s face it, our players are going to miss greens.  With the run-offs around the greens with closely mowed grass, the balls will roll away from the green.  The firm, fast greens will also make it difficult to scramble.  The bunkers are a different story as they were created for players to make bogey or worse.

Bonus Stats: SG: Approach, Total Driving

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