Erin Hills Is Amazing, but It Disappoints on the Biggest Stage

 

There is no denying that Erin Hills golf course is a beautiful course and deserves a yearly tour stop.  But the USGA has many venue’s that are difficult challenges for the US’s Biggest Major.   Erin Hills has the potential of being an incredible tour stop. With that said, it is just not ready for US Open Status.  Honestly, for as high as the Fescue is, the course itself has very little fight in it.

This week’s US Open host Erin Hills is playing more like an Open Championship during a week of good weather.  It’s surrendering at every turn and the greens are giving up birdies and eagles at record pace. With the fairways as wide open as they are, this course just does not have the teeth that a typical US Open course normally has or should have.

I am very traditional with my thinking which goes against many new Golf fans.   With that said, I enjoy watching guys put their best out there for the world to see and win with a -1 par under score for the tournament.  I enjoy watching the best players in the world struggle on courses like Oakmont, Merion, Pebble Beach, The Olympic Club, Bethpage, Torre Pines or Winged Foot.  These are all courses that provide the best players in the world with their stiffest challenge of the season.

Erin Hills on the other hand is surrendering US Open Record after record.  More players shooting rounds of -7 under or better in this tournament than any other US Open in history.  Justin Thomas shot a -9 under par 63 which is a US Open Record.  And Nearly 50 players in red numbers is just not how a US Open should look.

We have seen in the past where a player or two go low in the open, but when that happens, those players are just  one of a handful that are under par.  This year, too many players are going low and for that reason we could see a tie for the lead at the end of four rounds.  And when I mean a tie, I mean we could see upwards of 6 or 8  tied for the lead by the end of the tournament.   It certainly Makes for an exciting ending, though in my opinion more chaos than drama.

These criticisms are not directed towards Erin Hills and the ownership and those that have worked so hard to put this together.  This is a spectacular venue and is providing a really competitive tournament.  This is more of a criticism of the USGA and their choice to house the Open here and How it was set up.

I realize No one is asking me, but if I was asked how I would change Erin Hills in order to host another US Open, I would require the ownership group to shrink the fairways first.  The course has plenty of distance, but because of the size of the fairways the distance does not provide any teeth.  Something other than the Fescue needs to provide some difficulty on this course.  I would also shave off the greens in every location possible, meaning I would make it so that regardless how much rain falls, there is a true penalty for not putting the ball closer to the hole.  Players are landing on the edges of the greens and instead of them racing off into trouble, they are trickling down into the fairway or in good locations for return shots.

These criticisms are not meant to take anything away from what the players are doing because they are showing just how good they are.  But we are seeing all this good play for the most part by recent additions to the tour.

No I have not forgotten how well Rory scored in 2011.  Rory McIlroy finished his US Open Win at Congressional several years back with a record of -16 under. He was one of just 22 players at even or better that year.  The closest competitors though were -6 under for the tournament and there were only a few.  So, great scores can happen at these events, but this year it is not just great scores happening.   Nearly 1/3 of the entire field is at even or better.  That is not only unprecedented, but more like a typical week on the tour.

In contrast, the players complain like crazy when playing a course like  Oakmont.  Especially first or second time players because they just are not used to or ready for playing in rough that is that difficult to get out of.  Or on fairways as narrow as they are at Oakmont. Not to mention the fact that the greens are like putting on glass.  I bring it up because the last several times it was here we have had some of the games best players complain.  In 94′ Phil Mickelson was worried players were going to get injured because of how difficult the rough was.   We heard more of the same from the likes of Jordan Spieth the first time he played Oakmont last year.  Locals call that whining because for the most part, the course is played that difficult level every day.  The members love it. Yes it is Kind of sedistic I know, but they enjoy playing one of the two or three most difficult courses in the world.

But It is just not Oakmont, many of the traditional stops provide extremely difficult tests.  And when you compare it to this years venue, it’s as if Erin Hills bowed out early giving in to the players.  And because of the nightly rain, there just is nothing the USGA can do to increase the difficulty level.

As I stated off the top, I believe this should be a yearly tour stop but until changes are made it should not hold another US Open.   This to me is as bad a showing as Chambers Bay in Washington State a couple of years back, just in a different sense.   The Fox crew is trying so hard to talk about the difficulties of the course, which is just the fescue, but in order to hit that fescue, the Players have to really be off line.  They have to be really bad.  No, I’m not calling those 8 of the top 12 tour players that missed the cut bad, I’m saying they played really bad for a Tour Professional.  Which happens, but it is nothing the course did to  cause it.

This article may go against what fans want to see, but for me, this is no US Open I want to see again anytime soon.

Author: Jhavelka

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