Brooks Was Here

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Turns out, Brooks Koepka is the perfect US Open winner for Erin Hills.

I can’t figure either one of them out.

So let’s start with the man. This guy has been on the official “Golf Nerd Radar” for a while now. An athletic looking dude who played at Florida State, had a decorated amateur career, and hits missiles like that…. oh yeah. We’ve known about Brooks for a while.

But we’ve also waited for Brooks, for a while. Which is not unusual. Golf is hard. Not sure you’ve heard that one before. The guy went all around the world to figure out how to WIN, not just play “hit the ball pretty.” It’s starting to pay off, big time.

The temptation is to say Koepka is now going to explode into being a major, consistent, golf superstar. Well, maybe. We’re still waiting for Rickie. Jordan has started to drift sideways. Justin Thomas had a major flame-out, and Dustin Johnson still has just one major.

More fascinating to me, is that I have no idea who this guy really is. He seems like the most handsome golf dullard who has ever put a peg into the ground. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve heard him say more than 4 sentences in a row, since he’s turned pro.

Furthermore, I was intrigued by Joe Buck saying on the broadcast that Koepka told him that he’s NOT a “golf fanatic” – whatever the hell that means? Buck mentioned his athletic lineage, and how he tried playing baseball but – irony alert – washed out because he couldn’t hit!

Still, you don’t get good enough in golf to win the US Open, if you don’t LOVE it at some level. So good for Brooks! Freaking… stud. Helluva display. Congrats. Now, let’s see if you have any personality since you will be billed at every tournament you enter as a “major winning” draw to sell tickets.

Now, to Erin Hills.

She did fine, okay? Let’s not get wrapped up in the scores. They were low. Downwind, you couldn’t make the 18th hole long enough. The greens were perfect, which had as much to do with it as anything. These guys putt like demons. Give ’em pool tables – especially ones that aren’t the actual size of pool tables – they will run ’em in.

Was the course strategic? Was it interesting? Did it make the cream rise to the top? Was it fair? Too easy? Did it pop on TV as memorable and spectacular? Let me answer in order: a) Somewhat b) Not especially c) Mostly d) Very much e) A little… f) No.

Like Koepka, I am not sure what to make of Erin Hills. Is it truly “great” or just “unique”? It’s a basic fescue lined farmland course, splashed over a massive canvas. It has some links-ish properties, but they are still essentially ersatz.

What I have said ever since I was lucky enough to play it (once when it opened, again after the fixes and changes) is that “HOLY SHIT WE ARE WAY WAY OUT HERE IN THE WILD PLAYING GOLF!” But do long walks from green-to-next-tee make the actual holes any better?

I’m not sure.

I’ll still take Whistling Straits head-to-head, and that’s even if you filled in Lake Michigan with dirt. I just think it’s a better golf course.

Of course the golf fans of the Cheese State turned out in force, as I knew they would. You people are a big event state, and put on a great show. It’s why the PGA of America has signed up for multiple trips to Whistling for not just the PGA Championship, but an upcoming Ryder Cup in 2020. (Which, oh by the way, is going to melt peoples brains it’ll be so good!)

It probably seemed like there wasn’t as many fans in attendance, but that was due to the massive acreage and the fact the USGA set-back the rope lines and grandstands an absurd distance from the greens and fairways. Few organizations have a “let the masses eat cake” attitude for the average fan, quite like the USGA.

If they cared about average fan experience, they would allow closer rope lines and greenside standing/sitting (like Augusta does) and worry less about only taking this event to places that can accommodate 200+ corporate tents, media villages, and merchandise pavilions.

They don’t. They care about money. The USGA is a “non-profit” that has about $300 million in the bank.

I personally don’t think the US Open should go back to Erin Hills, but it’s just one man’s opinion. I also don’t think the USGA should give two figs about taking this event anywhere in the country just because they “haven’t been there in a while.”

To me, the US Open is a cool-summer, northern-tiered (and California) event with tree-lined, blue-blood courses that leave tour pros cussing at their shoes in the lockeroom. We don’t “need” to be taking it anywhere the weather is shit in mid-June (Congressional), or a blazing hot dust-bowl (Pinehurst), or to new fangled public courses that look like treeless British Open venues (Chambers Bay).

We already have one British Open. We don’t need TWO. Erin Hills was basically a warm-weather British Open, with cows.

The USGA would do well to just embrace what their event is, from an aesthetic standpoint. Did you know that in the UK, only about 2% of the total golf courses are actual proper seaside “links” courses? And yet, the R&A has figured out a basic “rota” of their best links courses, and THAT is where the Open happens. Year after year. Loop after loop through the rota.

Do you think the R&A ever thought to bring the Open to Gleneagles, or the K-Club, or The Belfry?

Fuck no! Yet all of those wonderful venues happily have hosted the Ryder Cup.

The Open’s SOUL is that of a links event. It’s where the game originated, and it’s the Open’s defacto “brand.”

The US Open once had a “brand.” And it was northeast private clubs, with thick green rough deep enough to lose your keys. I think that’s where this event belongs.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Loved when they tried to get Koepka to open a vein about his close friendship with Johnson and all he could come up with is “we work out together”, “we play a lot of golf together” and “he sent me text telling me to keep doing what I’m doing”. I bet there is some scintillating conversation when those two get together.

    As for the course, wonder why they are going to Shinnecock next year when this seemed like a rip off of that course a little bit. Watching in Minneapolis, we were talking about how we should have gone since the crowds didn’t seem nearly as big as we get at Hazeltine for majors.

    • Maybe I’m biased because I was born, raised, and still live in Hartford, five miles up the road from Erin Hills. In fact, a family of brothers that I attended high school with grew up on the farm right next door to Erin Hills, and their parents sold off 70 of their 80 acres to Bob Lang in the now-infamous “land grab”. But you couldn’t be more wrong about that course, Czabe.

      I have never played there, but I went to the Open on Friday, and I was thoroughly impressed. And I’ve never been a fan of links style courses!! In fact, I barely pay attention to the British Open, because it’s always raining, it’s windy as hell, and to be honest, quite often it is impossible to figure out where the fairway ends and the rough begins!! It’s just a gigantic bore-fest.

      Like I said, maybe I’m biased, but give me a US Open at Erin Hills ANYTIME…as long as I never have to watch a British Open ever again. That’s not to say that I don’t like some of the other courses…I do. Pebble, Shinnecock, Torrey Pines, etc. I like those places. But unlike you, I think Erin Hills ranks right up there with them.

      The USGA and the people from Wisconsin who were responsible for running the US Open did a FANTASTIC job, and they gave the people of Wisconsin something to enjoy, and to be proud of.

      If I have one complaint, it’s that the Open will be played at Shinnecock TWICE in the next 10 years before it even has a chance to come back to Erin Hills, and I think THAT is a crime. In my opinion, no course should host it twice before another course gets a second chance. I’m in my mid 50s, so I’ll be pushing 65-66 at best before the Open returns to Erin Hills. As a golf fan, I (or anyone) should not have to wait that long.

  2. I believe you are right about most of your points Steve, but for everyone saying the course was too easy then why did 8 of the world’s top 15 not make the cut on Saturday?
    I do agree that the U.S. Open should be held in those private Northeast clubs that make the pros look like scratch golfers. And I mean the courses where the winning score is like a +4.

  3. A 10-hcp player’s #1 job is to hit fairways.
    Erin Hills turned the world’s best into 10 hcp players.
    With today’s equipment there are countless pro golfers who can hit it 340 and not putt very well. Gone are the guys who hot it 275 and can putt like crazy. Well, Pavin, Z Johnson, Weir, and others are golfers, too.
    Nice to see golf boiled down to the fundamentals instead of being long-drive.

  4. Best line of the weekend was at the end of the tourney when Azinger corrected Buck regarding Brooks “new girlfriend”. Not to be confused with the “old girlfriend”.

  5. I kind have to agree with you on the courses. The USGA needs to have a rotation like the R&A does. I think Erin Hills would do fine hosting the PGA championship or even a Ryder Cup event.

    What really bugged me is how bias Joe Buck was against the Packers….lol.

  6. The USGA decided to use only 2 parking lots, both way too jammed with LONG security lines, and each over 30 minutes away from the course. Terrible “fan experience”. They are not a service-oriented organization, as your comment about the ropes points out.

    • I went to the Open Wed. through Sunday and the only day there was a line for the bus was Saturday. If all traffic had to drive on the two lane roads to get to Erin Hills the wait and delays would have been much worse. How about a shout out to the “bratburgers”!

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