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.