It's Erin Hills.

  • By Peter Kessler
  • 09 Jun, 2017

Erin Hills is 35 miles Northwest of Milwaukee in a land mass called the Kettle Moraine, a series of ridges and humps and hollows left from melting glaciers. It’s a public course, the 6 th to hold an Open, and it’s walking only. The property was perfect for an inland links style golf course.   Bob Lang purchased the property in 2001 after a series of owners couldn’t make a go of the property as a golf course. But he over borrowed and over spent to build a golf course suitable for holding a US Open, which brought him to the brink of insolvency and fractured his family.  

Tom Doak had wanted to build the course and sketched out 1,800 different holes for the immense property, a property large enough for the infrastructure of a US Open.  It was then going to be called Erin Golf Club but it was never built.  Nicklaus was also turned down to design the golf course.  Bob Lang hired the basically unknown firm of Hurzdan, Fry and Whitten to design what became Erin Hills, mostly because he respected that Hurzdan was a Green Beret.  Made no sense really but Lang was an unusual guy and a meddler during the process of building the golf course and a poor financial manager.  

Steve Stricker, who lived nearby loved the course and its potential to host a US Open. The USGA loved the property and the early version of the course and awarded the 2008 US Women’s Public Links to Erin Hills, which was a success and won by Tiffany Joh.   There were arguments between Lang and Hurzdan on what type of grass to use. Hurzdan wanted fescue and won that battle.   But Lang built new bunkers and tees and greens when the architects were off site and more battles ensued and eventually Lang fired Whitten, who couldn’t stand the meddling.  

The guy who found the property for Lang, Steve Trattner, murdered his wife in 2006 and was convicted and is serving time.   There was always something out of the ordinary going on.   Lang made the course too long at 8,348 yards and continued to meddle in it’s ongoing development and finally overextended himself with borrowings to the point that he was forced to sell the course to Andy Zieglar in 2009 for ten million dollars.

The USGA held the US Amateur there in 2011, won by Kelly Kraft, and soon after awarded the 2017 US Open to Erin Hills. For the Open it will play at 7,693 yards, has wetlands and rivers, lots of slope on the greens and brutal rough just off of the fairways.   The fairways are wide, the wind will blow, the bunkering is tough and it has rolling hills. It’s not exactly parkland, it’s not exactly links and it’s not tricky. It’s Erin Hills.  

By Peter Kessler 09 Jun, 2017

Erin Hills is 35 miles Northwest of Milwaukee in a land mass called the Kettle Moraine, a series of ridges and humps and hollows left from melting glaciers. It’s a public course, the 6 th to hold an Open, and it’s walking only. The property was perfect for an inland links style golf course.   Bob Lang purchased the property in 2001 after a series of owners couldn’t make a go of the property as a golf course. But he over borrowed and over spent to build a golf course suitable for holding a US Open, which brought him to the brink of insolvency and fractured his family.  

Tom Doak had wanted to build the course and sketched out 1,800 different holes for the immense property, a property large enough for the infrastructure of a US Open.  It was then going to be called Erin Golf Club but it was never built.  Nicklaus was also turned down to design the golf course.  Bob Lang hired the basically unknown firm of Hurzdan, Fry and Whitten to design what became Erin Hills, mostly because he respected that Hurzdan was a Green Beret.  Made no sense really but Lang was an unusual guy and a meddler during the process of building the golf course and a poor financial manager.  

Steve Stricker, who lived nearby loved the course and its potential to host a US Open. The USGA loved the property and the early version of the course and awarded the 2008 US Women’s Public Links to Erin Hills, which was a success and won by Tiffany Joh.   There were arguments between Lang and Hurzdan on what type of grass to use. Hurzdan wanted fescue and won that battle.   But Lang built new bunkers and tees and greens when the architects were off site and more battles ensued and eventually Lang fired Whitten, who couldn’t stand the meddling.  

The guy who found the property for Lang, Steve Trattner, murdered his wife in 2006 and was convicted and is serving time.   There was always something out of the ordinary going on.   Lang made the course too long at 8,348 yards and continued to meddle in it’s ongoing development and finally overextended himself with borrowings to the point that he was forced to sell the course to Andy Zieglar in 2009 for ten million dollars.

The USGA held the US Amateur there in 2011, won by Kelly Kraft, and soon after awarded the 2017 US Open to Erin Hills. For the Open it will play at 7,693 yards, has wetlands and rivers, lots of slope on the greens and brutal rough just off of the fairways.   The fairways are wide, the wind will blow, the bunkering is tough and it has rolling hills. It’s not exactly parkland, it’s not exactly links and it’s not tricky. It’s Erin Hills.  

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