Wisconsin’s Erin Hills combines natural beauty with Irish flair to create a novel golfing experience.
Although erin hills golf Course opened just Over a decade ago, the Groundwork for this Breathtaking course actually began thousands of years earlier. Thanks to the collision of glaciers that left dramatic contours and ridges, the landscape provided an inviting and challenging setting that was just waiting to find its purpose.
That mission was accomplished in 2006, when the course opened in Erin, Wisconsin. The gorgeous terrain of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine region provides the perfect setting for a walking course that is both challenging and breathtaking. Th e name provides a hint at the uneven, sloping landscape that awaits, and its bentgrass greens and fine fescue fairways provide a stunning backdrop for a round of golf.
To date, the grounds have been home to a number of championships and competitions, including the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 2015 Wisconsin State Amateur Championship. And, as the site of the 2017 U.S. Open June 12-18, it is about to gain even greater attention.
To prepare for the championship, the course closed in the fall of 2016 and will remain closed to the public until after the tournament is finished.
Erin Hills Golf Course definitely comes by its beauty naturally, and that is something its designers worked to preserve and build upon, rather than reshape the lay of the land to suit their vision.
“The property … provided the architects with the rare opportunity to design a mini-malist course that can also accommodate and test the game’s best players,” says John Morrissett, competitions director at Erin Hills. “The natural terrain provides for wonderful golf and a terrific spectator experience.”
Dr. Michael Hurdzan, an internationally recognized expert on golf course design and renovation, headed the team of architects for the course. Joining him to create the course were Dana Fry and Ron Whitten, both respected figures in golf course design and architecture.
With 39 acres of fairways, and an average putting green size of 6,650 square feet, the designers took full advantage of the uncluttered, rolling terrain. Uninhibited views across the course emphasize the contours that provide an experience that is both demanding and exhilarating.
Of all the holes, it is No. 9 that stands out as the course’s signature hole. This 165-yard par-3 hole has been compared to holes found at Pinehurst No. 2. The green, surrounded by sand and fine fescue, becomes even more challenging when the well-known Wisconsin winds whip up. The putting surface slopes in all directions, which only adds to the challenge of the hole.
“The ninth is the shortest hole on the course and, especially as it plays downhill, it is completely exposed to the wind,” Morrissett explains. “Selecting the right club and flighting the ball appropriately presents a real challenge. The green is ringed by some of the most penal bunkers on the course, with many double-bogeys resulting from missing the green.” And, to top it all off, he adds, “The green deceptively runs away from the tee, making for interesting putting.”
The resort’s extensive practice facility provides a thorough pre-round warm-up with an equally welcoming view. Multiple tees around the nine target greens offer a variety of options for practice shots, and there’s also a short game area for a proper warm-up. Two practice fairway bunkers even allow for taking practice shots from the sand.
From the beginning, Erin Hills has earned kudos for its unique and dramatic options. ~ e course, just 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, is ranked No. 8 on Golf Digest‘s list of “America’s Greatest Public Courses” and 42nd on America’s 100 Greatest Courses overall.
The entire theme of Erin Hills Resort gives a nod to Ireland, including old-world Irish countryside buildings. When paired with the overall architecture of the course and the lack of carts, it clearly pays homage to the Emerald Isle. And, after the U.S. Open, more golf enthusiasts will know about the course and what it has to offer.
“Erin Hills is one of just six public access ever to host our national championship,” Morrissett says. “~ at access allows golfers to follow in the footsteps of the best golfers in the world and relive the excitement of the U.S. Open during their own rounds.”
PLAY, THEN STAY
As if playing the Erin Hills Golf Course wasn’t reward in and by itself, the resort offers an excellent way to wind down after closing out the last hole. ~ e lodge features single and double rooms, as well as suites, and has the quaint rustic ambience of an Irish country inn. With all the modern touches you could ask for (wireless internet, fi at-screen televisions, Egyptian cotton linens) housed in an environment that feels like an old-world lodge, it truly does o° er the best of both worlds.
For a more secluded getaway, private Irish cottages o° er four-bedroom retreats with antique furnishings, fire places, sitting areas and private baths.
Dining options include light fare in the Irish Pub, Terrace and the Sports Lounge. While ~ e Clubhouse, which overlooks the course, offers two different venues for dining—one inside beneath cathedral ceilings and the other outside on the porch, where you can enjoy unobstructed views of the natural beauty surrounding you.