Erin Hills: A Course Tour

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Erin Hills: A Course Tour

June 09, 2017

Photo By: Dom Furore

Photo By: David Cannon

Photo By: Dom Furore

Photo By: Photo by Dom Furore

Photo By: Dom Furore

Photo By: Dom Furore

Course Overview

Erin Hills can be played from as long as 8,348 yards from the back tees, but it'll measure at 7,693 yards or shorter depending on hole locations. The course, which opened in 2004 and hosted the 2008 U.S. Women's Public Links and the 2011 U.S. Amateur, is the first par 72 to host a U.S. Open since Pebble Beach in 1992.

Photo By: Dom Furore

No. 1, Par 5, 560/608 yards

Erin Hills starts and ends with a par 5. Similar in design to Pebble Beach's 18th hole, this boomerang par-5 plays along a hazard -- in this case, wetlands -- down the left side. With a fairway that feeds into the green, and a lack of bunkers around the green, this will be a birdie hole for many.

No. 2, Par 4, 338/361 yards

This hole can be played a variety of ways. Blind off the tee, some players will turn it into a drivable par 4, thinking it's easier to get it up and down from around the green than laying up and controlling the spin on a wedge shot. Thing is, if your layup is on the right side or middle of this 90-yard-wide fairway, you'll be left with a blind second shot, too. Carrying the large ridge to the right will put you up near this eggshell green.

No. 3, Par 4, 476/508 yards

Alternate tees on this par 4 will give the USGA a variety of options to set it up. The left tee makes it a dogleg left cape hole over wetlands. The right tee makes it a shorter drive to a canted fairway. There are almost no flat lies on this fairway -- you'll most likely have a hanging lie for your second shot into this hole, which also has the newest green on the course.

No. 4, Par 4, 439 yards

The fairway-bunker complex to the right is barely visible from the tee, but it's quite treacherous if found. The second shot, playing to an infinity green, is one of the most intimidating on the course. If a player hits it too far over, a ball might zip down the slope into the deep rough or the wetlands. And the green is shallow on the right, maybe 12 paces.

No. 5, Par 4, 462/505 yards

If the fairway's dry, pros might hit their drives almost 400 yards should they catch a crest. This punchbowl green might look simple, but there are some subtleties that really complicate putts. You'll see the erosion bunkers meant to mimic the look of water running across the green.

No. 6, Par 3, 180/208/236 yards

This one-shotter is a true test of distance control. Playing to a large and long green, you have to trust your yardage, or you'll face a long approach putt. And wind plays a big factor to this hilltop green. It will regularly shift from morning to afternoon. If the hole is played from the 236-yard tees, it's actually easier because the green is much more visible. From the 180-yard box, you're playing uphill, and all you can see is a sliver of your target.

No. 7, Par 5, 576/607/619 yards

A converted par 4, players are likely to have a downhill, sidehill lie playing to an uphill green. It's the course's largest green, designed to be receptive to long approaches. But players will still miss this green, due largely, again, to the sweeping winds. Miss left, and players will find themselves in a 20-yard swale beneath the hole, something common for Erin Hills and kind of Pinehurst No. 2-esque.

Photo By: David Cannon

No. 8, Par 4, 492 yards

With an approach similar to the ninth at Augusta National, this green slopes back to front. Any shot that hits just short of the green will roll back down—either into one of three greenside bunkers or as much as 50 yards down the steep facing hill. This is a severe dogleg left fairway with a big domed hill that the pros can carry by cutting the corner or hitting a big draw (for righties). Drive through the fairway, however, and you'll be in the deep rough. Though the hole flows to the left, the land slopes left to the right.

Photo By: Dom Furore

No. 9, Par 3, 135/143/150 yards

The ninth is the favorite hole of most people who play Erin Hills. Ironically, it started as the 19th hole or the bye hole, but it was used as the ninth hole when the Women's APL was played here, and they skipped the old blind "Dell" seventh hole. Playing downhill usually into some crosswinds, this is Erin Hills' version of the famous seventh at Pebble Beach. There's no ocean, so the team put in seven of the nastiest bunkers you'll find to surround the green. As Dana Fry is fond of saying: "the toughest shot at Erin Hills is often the second shot on the ninth hole." Even though you have just a 9-iron or pitching wedge into this green, the wind is gonna push it out of the air.

Photo By: Photo by Dom Furore

No. 10, Par 4, 476/504/524 yards

Once the seventh hole was converted into a par 5, the 10th was converted into a par 4—and its giant Biarritz green was replaced in 2010. The tee shot is blind up and over a hill into another large Erin Hills fairway. Though the right side will leave you a shorter shot, you'll be playing down in a kettle hole uphill to the green. This is another elevated, two-level green that is high-right, low-left.

No. 11, Par 4, 460 yards

Though you can see the green from the tee, the fairway is deep down in a valley and completely blind from the back tees. The players must pick a line (probably more left than they think) and trust it. This is an old-fashioned, canted green with a ton of break on short putts.

No. 12, Par 4, 434/464 yards

This entire topography was untouched for this double-dogleg par 4. At one point, this was going to be the opening hole with the clubhouse located where the ninth tees now are. But the designers determined it was a waste of good land—ultimately a good decision with that hole being used. The green on this hole also twists and turns toward the back, and deep rough awaits any errant shots around the hole.

No. 13, Par 3, 170/193/213 yards

Just like a number of greensites at Erin Hills, you'll find shaved run-offs from the sides of this little perched playing surface, which the designers called their Pinehurst green from the beginning. There's a pot bunker in front, and then the nasty bunkers to left. Those were all just areas where the crew knocked down trees, and the resulting holes were turned into bunkers. Mother Nature is random and awkward, and so some of the bunkering at Erin Hills is random and awkward. Mother Nature dictated that.

No. 14, Par 5, 594/613/650 yards

This hole sits atop an old soybean field, so the topography had been graded dead flat. This is a section of land original owner Bob Lang purchased separately from most of the other acreage. This par 5 is shaped like a reverse question mark. Trees lined the hillside, and once most of those trees were removed, the design team discovered this greensite. There's a big false front that if you don't carry, you're ball will roll back down into deep rough. And there's a little river to the right that you can find if you hit a push slice.

No. 15, Par 4, 357/370 yards

This is our classic erosion bunker shaped like a footprint behind the green. Mike Hurdzan doubted they could get the grass to grow vertically like that, but they hydroseeded and haven't touched it since. Mike Davis will probably place the tees so that the hole plays like a drivable par 4. But you better pick a good line, because there's trouble at every turn. The wise plan is to play it as two par 3s and avoided all the bunkers. If you hit a 5-iron off the tee, you'll probably have 100 yards left.

Photo By: Dom Furore

No. 16, Par 3, 171/183/200 yards

Mike Davis suggested adding a tee box off the corner of the 15th green to play diagonally into this green, where all you can see is the flag—pretty much a blind par 3 into this long and narrow punchbowl, which brings to mind a gravy boat.

No. 17, Par 4, 509/518 yards

There are no bunkers on this long par 4, which was originally planned as a par 5, but they didn't want back-to-back par 5s to close the round. It plays much better as a par 4 between the heavily bunkered par-3 16th and dramatic par-5 18th.

No. 18, Par 5, 622/637/663/675 yards

The 675-yard 18th is a true three-shot par 5 with 22 bunkers, one of the most heavily bunkered fairways on the course. It doesn't matter which tees we use, it could even play as far back at 690. There are fairway bunkers for everyone. Paul Azinger, speaking about a left pin position on Sunday, has already said of the swale left of the green: "Someone is going to lose the U.S. Open there." This is a par 5 that can produce a 4 but it can produce some 7s just as quickly. --with Ron WhittenRelated: Previewing Erin Hills
Video: 7 Things You Need To Know About Erin Hills

Photo By: Dom Furore

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