Erin Hills put its best foot forward

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By Staff Report

 Father’s Day is this Sunday and as a father of three children, my wife and family know by now that they don’t need to ask what I want to do for the day.  After all, it always falls on the final round of the U.S. Open, one of my favorite golf tournaments of the year to watch.  This year will be particularly fun to watch due, in part, to the fact it will be contested for the first time at Erin Hills, a public golf course in Wisconsin.  Most recently Chambers Bay, another first time public golf course in the Pacific Northwest, hosted in 2015 with mixed reviews as to the firm and fast fescue course style.  Erin Hills could become a repeat of this theme showcasing a modern golf course. However, the USGA is at the forefront of all decisions and I am sure that they learned a lesson or two from the event held at Chambers Bay.  

Erin Hills was built by Wisconsin developer Robert Lang in coordination with designer Dr. Michael John Hurdzan and business partners Dana Fry and Ron Whitten. The team was determined to bring the U.S. Open to Erin Hills and as with every dream venue the USGA must have things its way and Lang and partners agreed.  Unfortunately, it was because of these changes Lang and his teams were forced to sell the course due to financial problems.  In came Andrew Ziegler, who bought the golf course from Lang.  Ziegler had the financial status to fund the golf course for decades without worry.  Ziegler upgraded and conditioned the golf course to meet USGA requirements and the course was chosen to host the Open.   In addition to the course, the property includes a manor home specifically built as a pub, and a refurbished barn available for private events. The grounds also have been upgraded to include cottages for overnight stay. 

The golf course certainly is ready for the test as the course has been closed all year in preparation for this week’s event and will not open for many weeks after the event.  Most golf courses could not financially afford to make this type of move or in a private setting members would become irate not being able to play their course.  Ziegler sees the bigger picture and hopes to recoup any loss after the debut this week. Many people will want to play this golf course for years to come. It is more along the lines of a long-term investment. This move allows maintenance practices that are unheard of in preparation for the event.  It really shows the commitment on Ziegler’s part to showcase the course with every possible opportunity.  There is no doubt Erin Hills will be putting its best foot forward.  Players have already started voicing their opinion on playing conditions.  I always enjoy listening to Phil Mickelson’s comments on course setup and conditions. This year, I will not have that privilege as Mickelson plans to skip the U.S. Open to attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony in California. A pretty classy move, if you ask me.     

I am sure the U.S. Open at Erin Hills this week will not disappoint. It will showcase what the owners of the course and the fans are hoping for from this venue. I look forward to watching this year’s Open from the couch. Next year, I am honored to be an official starter on the first tee as the U.S. Open will return to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York.  I am already practicing pronunciation of names and working with a speech therapist.  If anyone can help me I am struggling with this one -- is it Speeth or Spieth?  


Please feel free to contact me with any ideas, comments, complaints, or questions that I assist with.  It is my goal to bring you information pertinent to what is happening in the game of golf, as well as instruction, local happenings and insight into local personalities who make this game so great. 


Darren deMaille is the owner/direction of instruction of Double D Golf Academies.  Currently there are two locations including Harbour View Golf Complex in Little River and Millstone Golf Club in Hemingway.  Opening soon Tupelo Bay in Surfside.  There have been many people who have influenced Darren’s philosophy. However, his basic principles are based around the way Jack Nicklaus swings the club and plays the game.  He can be reached at 203.895.1133 or tenmindoctor@aol.com