The first thing that most people notice about Erin Hills is its length. At more than 7,800 yards it is an absolute beast and measures long even for a US Open. It spreads that length out over all but a few holes, giving the players little relief over the course of a round. but still manages to somehow give everyone a kick in the teeth of the last three. The already daunting layout is capped off with a par three, a par four, and a par five, the lengths of which combine to over 1,300 yards. Fortunately for the qualifiers this year, the length is not as true as it would be at other layouts at that altitude. True, Erin, Wisconsin sits at around 300 meters of elevation and that will give some of the players a little more bang for their buck off the tee, but more importantly it’s built to play extremely fast. That means that driving distances are going to go through the roof should players brave the big stick and those players that can keep it in the fairway will have a great advantage. Erin Hills’s maintenance and design staff achieve this by actually utilizing native fescue on the fairways. It’s obviously cut down significantly, but when it is, it provides an extremely hard and fast playing surface.
**Erin Hills Scorecard – Black Tees**
|Black||77.9 / 145||608||358||476||439||505||237||607||492||165||3887||504||403||464||215||613||370||200||481||663||3913||7800|
Besides daunting length and super fast fairways, the players this year will face some very interesting approach shots at Erin Hills. The area was originally carved by glaciers and that means there are a ton of round rolling hills, deep crevices, and sharp turns in the landscape. This is the kind of course where an approach shot can land just barely off target and bound well away from the green or give a player the opposite result, should they miss far enough into the bowl shaped areas designated for spectators. It’s not the same time of layout, but if you’re trying to imagine the difficulties surrounding the approach shots, think of Pinehurst and the buried elephants under their greens. Last but not least we have the hazards at Erin Hills and they come mainly in the form of fescue and deep bunkers. The green side bunkers at Erin Hills are deep enough to require climbing gear for entry and the fescue that lines each hole from tee to green is deep and gnarly enough to make sure that no player can escape from it without penalty. It’s probably more likely this week that a player who can avoid these hazards will do better than one that is simply good at working within them.
If you’re looking for a horse for this course, we suggest looking at someone that can control the distances on their irons. This is, of course, always a premium skill at a US Open, but give the elevation changes, the hard and fast conditions, and the graver than usually penalties for dumping it in a green side bunker, someone that can land the ball with precise distance control will excel. This goes for off the tee as well because the fast conditions will mean that some holes won’t require a driver. Instead they’ll require a club that can get on the short stuff and not run far enough to risk the fescue. With that in mind, we suggest you look at players like Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, and Pat Perez. It also may be worth it to look at some of the players that had a chance to compete on the course during the 2011 US Amateur. Some of those players include Jordan Spieth (again), Justin Thomas, and Bryson DeChambeau.