IT’S NOT A LINKS COURSE It looks like a “links” course – it’s got fescues grass, it’s got wind, it’s got no trees – but it’s not a “links” course. Rather, it’s what one of the course architects, Dana Fry, likes to call, a “heartland” course – something in between a links and parkland course. IT’S A FIRST FOR WISCONSIN Of the first 116 US Opens, 65 have been held in the Great Lakes region – 18 in New York, 17 in Pennsylvania, 13 in Illinois, seven in Ohio, six in Michigan and four in Minnesota. This will be the first US Open held in America’s Dairyland.
IT’S A PAR 72 For the first time in 25 years, the US Open scorecard is at par 72. The last time came at Pebble Beach in 1992, when the 502-yard second hole was still played as a par 5. Since then, the US Open has generally been played at par 70. AVOID THE BUNKERS There are 138 of them and unlike bunkers at most courses, there are almost no flat bottoms. Tour pros, who normally don’t mind finding bunkers if they miss a green, will now have to suffer the consequences of an endless variety of uphill, downhill and sidehill lies. They will have restricted backswings, and at times won’t even be allowed to play at the green, let alone the pin. These are genuine hazards.
FLEXIBILITY Erin Hills could play differently off the tee in each of the four rounds, thanks to the flexibility the architects embedded with their design. Every hole, except the par-4 11th, has at least two different teeing grounds. The par-5 18th has four grounds. Depending on the yardage, the drive zone may be different, and bunkers may come into play one round and be a non-factor in another. Plus, the par-4 15th will likely be drivable in at least one round.
SIX HOLE SHOOTER The last six holes on Sunday could provide a frantic finish. There are two par 5s (14 and 18), two par 4s (15 and 17) and two par 3s (13 and 16). Par 72 courses such as TPC Sawgrass and Augusta National have shown that having two par 5s on the back side can produce fireworks down the stretch.