2017-06-14 / Sports

Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Erin Hills

I’ll admit to being a little lax with regard to the playing of the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills beginning Thursday. The U.S. Open almost always resides at the forefront of my consciousness, but this year, not so much. I mean I know it begins this week, yet when I heard a radio blub on Monday about some of the player’s comments on the golf course, I had an ‘Oh yeah’ moment.

My first action was to figure out a little about the course, mainly where it is. I knew from previous mentions that Erin Hills is in Wisconsin. It’s actually 42 miles northwest from the Milwaukee airport in Erin, Wisconsin. You and I can play the course, because it’s open to the public. That round will set you back $280 for the green fee and upwards of $100 for a caddie, or forecaddie. Active military personnel are charged $180 for the green fee.

Judging from a couple early comments by some of the players, a forecaddie may be essential. A video has already surfaced showing Kevin Na standing in nearly waist high fescue demonstrating how difficult it will be to find errant shots that land in the stuff. He tosses a golf ball approximately 10 feet in front of him and then has a hard time locating the ball as it made its way to the ground through the wispy grass.

It appears that Na finds it only because he knew exactly where it entered because, well, he put it there from 10 feet. Marshalls this week will not have that advantage as they will be lucky to follow a stray shot to within a 10 yard radius, if they see it at all. Na goes on to demonstrate how it will be nearly impossible to extract a ball from the fescue, taking a couple whacks at the ball, only to finally lose it.

Na isn’t fooling anyone because his agenda is to criticize the USGA and its set up of the course. On the other hand, Na didn’t create the conditions he was showing on the video. Some context may be missing. Are those fescue conditions really prevalent throughout the golf course, or do they only exist in just a few locations?

As usual the USGA goes to great lengths to put a premium on accuracy for the National Championship, but I’m not sure I want to see a myriad of lost balls and unplayable lies dominating play this weekend. I do know I’ll be tuning in to see if Na had a good point, or was crying wolf.

Another thing about Erin Hills that I noted is that it will be playing at nearly 7800 yards, which is pretty long, even for the pros. That yardage didn’t cause me any surprise though, but what the radio guy said next made me take notice. He said the course could be set up to play at 8800 yards. Erin Hills was built on 600 acres, which is about twice the acreage of an average golf facility. I’m still shaking my head and pondering the day we’ll see the pros teeing it up on an 8800 yard golf course.

Return to top