This is a wonderfully shot piece, with some excellent original photos of the land and the course in it’s infant stages. It is also nice to see Bob Lang talk about the project, admit his inarguably reckless obsession about it, but at the same time not hold any outward bitterness about the outcome.
No matter what happens this week at the US Open, Erin Hills’ ongoing success is now cast in bronze. The changes and improvements to the course made to host the Open, have already elevated their ability to get $200+ for a round. After the Open is through, that rack rate will climb north of $300.
The spectacular visuals of the property Fox will surely deliver this weekend to a worldwide audience of golf fanatics, will be irresistible golf cheese. And if the players say nice things, even better. The prospects of the Open returning in 10 years or more, are still too uncertain. There cannot be a golf-course related rules disaster.
My fear would be something like this: Erin Hills has what the architects call “erosion” bunkers. That means, they are rough, and unkempt around the edges. This is problematic because balls can lodge, or roll into tiny crevices, ruts, and gullies.
Conceptually, in modern golf a player who finds his ball, no matter where it ended up, should have some kind of shot at it. (the Scots who founded the game, would obviously disagree). But there are nooks in these bunkers at Erin Hills, where you literally have to take an unplayable lie.
This would be highly controversial.
Imagine one of the leaders on Sunday, hitting a good shot that just rolls off the back of a green into a HOLE in the erosion bunker. He has to take a penalty and a drop, and ends up making triple. This, would not be good.
I’m gonna guess there will be a significant lost ball event in the deep fescue involving somebody on the first page of the leaderboard on Saturday or Sunday. We’ll just have to see about how players react to it. Pros aren’t used to actually “losing” a golf ball that was hit in play on the PGA Tour. They tend to be pretty big babies about it.
All that said, I’ll cross my fingers for a great week for Erin Hills. I don’t worry about the golf fans or the crowds, because Wisconsin turns out for any big party. And while many in that state don’t golf particularly WELL… by gum, they DO golf. Even if it’s while getting hammered on Leiney’s and wearing cargo shorts!