Math

U.S. Open 2017: How wide are these ridiculously wide fairways at Erin Hills? Let's put that in perspective

June 13, 2017
General Views of Erin Hills Golf Course venue for 2017 US Open Championship
David CannonERIN, WI - SEPTEMBER 01: The approach to the green on the 663 yards par 5, 18th hole at Erin Hills Golf Course the venue for the 2017 US Open Championship on September 1, 2016 in Erin, Wisconsin. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

ERIN, Wis. -- The money quote from Tuesday at the U.S. Open came by way of Rory McIlroy, who when asked about the astonishingly deep rough at Erin Hills, said any golfer worth his U.S. Open badge shouldn't ever confront that rough in the first place.

"We have 60 yards from left line to right. You've got 156 of the best players in the world here. If we can't hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home," McIlroy said.

McIlroy's point was that Erin Hills were so absurdly generous, so difficult to miss for even the most wayward of drivers, players deserved to be penalized if they couldn't hit them. And when you put 60 yards in the stringent context of a U.S. Open, McIlroy's got a point. How wide is 60 yards? Consider that a year ago at Oakmont, the fairways were between 28 and 32 yards wide while four years ago at Merion Golf Club, the fairways were a walk-single-file 25 yards wide.

Sixty yards is twice the average PGA Tour fairway width, and it's likely well wider than the fairway width of your local club, since most regular course fairways are between 35-45 yards. Sixty yards is the approximate distance the average golfer hits his lob wedge, which is to say there are plenty of golfers who could take a full swing from one side of an Erin Hills fairway and not reach the other.

Take it a step further and 60 yards is wider than the 53 yards of an American football field (and nearly as wide as 65 yards of a confoundingly-wide Canadian football field). It's also almost as wide as the LENGTH of a regulation hockey rink.

The fairways at Erin Hills are twice the width of the Golden Gate Bridge, and they're 10 yards wider than Broadway in Manhattan.

Photo by Francesca Russell

Or perhaps to use McIlroy's math from earlier, if you took all 156 of the best players in the world and had them stand shoulder-to-shoulder, they would just cover the width of an Erin Hills fairway.

In other words, you can complain about the rough at Erin Hills. But first you might want to explain how you got there.


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