Golf Course Review: Pacific Dunes (OR)

Pacific Dunes Course Rankings:

Golf Digest: #2 US public, #18 US top 100, 18 toughest, #1 Oregon
GolfWeek: #2 US modern, #1 US resort, #1 Oregon
Golf.com: #1 US public, #20 world, #12 US top 100, #1 Oregon

Designer: Tom Doak (2001)

While the course measures only 6,633 yards from the tips, extreme thought should be put in to tee selections at Pacific Dunes (the same as at Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trails and Old MacDonald!). The wind in Bandon, Oregon ranges from tolerable to extreme – extreme being over 40 miles per hour with intense gusts off the ocean.

View from the Pacific Grille at Pacific Dunes Golf Course over the Punch Bowl and out over the Pacific Ocean

View from the Pacific Grille at Pacific Dunes Golf Course over the Punch Bowl and out over the Pacific Ocean

We had a “One in a thousand day” for our first round of the trip at Pacific Dunes, with winds that were typically around ten or so miles per hour. “If there was ever a day to play the tips here, this is the one,” our caddie Charlie Kloss told us.

Choosing the tips means teeing off in front of spectators outside of the Pacific Grille, located upstairs from the pro shop at Pacific Dunes. Know what you’re doing and you’ll be fine, but if the wind is blowing hard then maybe the first tees in are a great decision!

Chances are there will be people inside your flight zone from the tips on one, as seen below. Was this intentional to make sure players who choose to play the tips know what they are getting in to?

Hole 1: Par 4 (370/304/287/200/253)

Hole 1: Par 4 (370/304/287/200/253)

If playing without a caddie, the first hole can be quite confusing – the fairway rises uphill and the hole actually bends slightly to the right.

Greg and I took a caddie for our first round at Pacific Dunes, and elected to carry our own bags the second time. We both hit the middle of the fairway off the tee, then stood there discussing where the hole ends up. I walked up a ways, then he did. Neither of us could tell for sure. “Do you have pictures from yesterday?” “If I remember correctly, it goes a little to the right.” “Good enough by me.”

We both ended up in greenside traps.

The green on one is one of the fastest on the entire course, and rolls hard from back to front from the right side.

Hole 1: Par 4 (370/304/287/200/253)

Hole 1: Par 4 (370/304/287/200/253)

I hit balls in to the fescue left during both of our rounds at Pacific Dunes, so I cannot say a whole lot about the fairway here other than that I had a lot of difficulty hitting it.

To be fair, though, the setup of the hole on two is absolutely beautiful – central fairway traps and one of the narrower fairways on the course.

The hole runs uphill to a green that is elevated and fronted on the right by a deep bunker with a huge lip.

Hole 2: Par 4 (368/335/335/180/275)

Hole 2: Par 4 (368/335/335/180/275)

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Golf Course Review: Chambers Bay (WA)

Chambers Bay Course Rankings:
Golf Digest: #26 US public, #2 Washington
GolfWeek: #29 US modern, #1 Washington public
Golf.com: #64 US top 100, #17 US public
Designer: Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Bruce Charlton, Jay Blasi (2007)
Home to the 2010 US Amateur and the 2015 US Open, Chambers Bay is the 22nd rated course and one of the premiere golfing destinations in the United States.
The clubhouse at Chambers Bay
Created from a former sand and gravel mine, my favorite golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., was asked to “create a world-class golf course, enjoyable for golfers of any skill level, capable of hosting major championships and events.” Quoting Chambers Bay’s website, this line sums up my own feelings about the breathtaking city-run property beautifully: “The extraordinary views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and the unrivaled scenery create an environment where golfers enjoy not only world-class golf, but also a sense of visual nirvana.”
This visual nirvana begins early on the facade of the Chambers Bay clubhouse, where the 920-acre property can be seen in its entirety:
View from the clubhouse at Chambers Bay
Each hole yields the opportunity for a perfect golf photograph. Views of the Puget Sound and dramatic hillsides abound on all eighteen holes, and the links-style mounding creates stunning contrast to the otherwise rolling fairways and greens.
Chambers Bay is slightly reminiscent of another future US Open golf course here in my home state of Wisconsin, Erin Hills. Each is a links-style course with an entirely fescue golf experience. The swift fescue fairways transform harmoniously in to challenging green complexes where there is little discernable difference between the fairways and greens. Because of this, the greens are able to be placed virtually anywhere, and short wedge play is discouraged as anything within 30 yards can be putted as effectively.
This threw me for a huge loop during my round. As a walking-only course, the greens are generally raised and heavily mounded, with many of them given an “infinity” like effect (think of an infinity pool, and the way the edge of the pool seems to blend in with the ocean beyond it – many of the greens here feature the same effect with the Puget Sound beyond). The greenside mounding is considerable, and over-hitting approaches is penalized by massive hills that have to be putted up in order to re-find the green surface. My 95 during Sunday’s round included seven miss-hit putts that did not traverse quite far enough to stay on the green before rolling back to the same general area where they started.
Typical greenside mounding, behind the par three seventeenth hole
My 95 also included four sand-to-sand shots, epitomized by two on the devilish sixth green complex. The bunkers at Chambers Bay are eerily similar to those featured on Pete Dye’s courses, especially at Whistling Straits. They are the most natural areas of the land at this great site, and like the ones found at the Straits or at Erin Hills, jut in all directions, can be quite deep, and when around the greens are generally fairly narrow, creating terrible downhill lies and stunted sand shots that make for a huge challenge to hold.
Narrow, craggy greenside bunkers on the sixth hole
The sand is far from the only indigenous feature at Chambers Bay. Much was left of this land’s rich heritage, including beautiful ruin-like structures on the seventeenth and eighteenth holes that add character and promote faux-professional amateur photography.
The elevation at Chambers Bay is extraordinary, and nowhere is this more evident than on the par three ninth. A drop of 100 feet is featured from the teal, navy, sand and white tee boxes, which are perched above a vast sand trap that lies another 30 feet below its undulating putting surface. Missing short here is an almost guaranteed bogey, which I discovered the hard way. Finding the bottom of the sand off the tee, my third shot from the top of the bunker rolled right and downhill almost endlessly until it stopped one foot from the pin for a gimmie bogey putt.
Look back [and way up] to the tee boxes on the par three ninth hole
While most fairways are wide and inviting, there are several that are almost impossible to hit. The 425-yard par four tenth narrows between dunes and leads to one of the course’s hardest hit greens, while the drivable 262-yard par four twelfth features a fairway no wider than about 20 yards as it funnels uphill. While these are drastically different holes, the tee shots on each are intimidating, to say the least.

The 920 acres of Chambers Bay’s layout features but one tree, which is seen from many holes on the course but is featured magnificently on the par three fifteenth, aptly named “Lone Fir.” This downhill tee shot is to a large green that slants heavily from left to right, making the best approach either long to the backstop, or left just short of the deep pot bunker. My tee shot was headed straight towards this bunker, and fell right to twelve feet above the pin.

Hole 15: Par 3 (172/139/127/116/103)
The sand features found wayward of the fairways at Chambers Bay sprawl significantly, making accurate tee shots necessary. Holes two, four, five, seven, eleven, thirteen, fourteen, sixteen and eighteen all have monstrous sand areas that plunge deep from the playing surface. The fairway mounding often influences these drop-offs, and sometimes even takes away the forward momentum of well-hit shots to the point that they fall down steep hills in to sandy lies that have to be hit with lofted clubs to get out of.
One aspect of Chambers Bay that I was surprised with was the speed of the greens. They had recently been aerated, but no plugs were pulled and only a mild top-dressing was added. The speed, I was told, is comparable to the “normal” stimping, which is relatively slow. These slow green speeds influence aggressive play, especially from off the putting surfaces, but I assume they will be sped up notably for championship play. If Erin Hills’ fescue greens rolled at an eleven during mid-June, Chambers Bay’s were closer to a nine. The dramatic undulation found in all of them keeps putting at Chambers Bay far from being trouble-free, and I actually think they would be made easier if they were sped up.

After checking in at the pro shop, I was met by the course’s shuttle to bring a handful of us to the practice range at the base of the hill. The fescue hitting surface on the range is similar to that on the course, and I was glad I failed with some wedges early and learned my lesson about hitting them on such finely shaved surfaces.

Practice range at Chambers Bay

After hitting a half bucket of practice balls on the range (included with greens fees), the shuttle picked us up and brought us to the first hole tee area, which also features a large and swelling practice green. It was evident quickly that these putting surfaces would not be anywhere near as quick as I’d expected – very good to know ahead of time!

I met David, Roland and Maricel, who I would be playing with for my round, here and we each chose our tee boxes. Of the five sets available, we had one player at four different boxes. Dave, a four-handicap from Atlanta, started on the teals until we were warned it was not allowed. In fact, we were told that anyone caught on these tees two times would be asked to leave. He then switched to the navy tees, which measure to 7088 yards (compared to 7564 from the teals).

The starter advised us to add at least 200 yards to the overall distances to account for the nuances found on an all-fescue golf track. I chose the sands, which are a more pedestrian 6420, and are strongly suggested for players whose handicaps are between seven and fifteen. As an 11.5, these provided plenty of challenge. Roland and Maricel, a nice young couple from Vancouver, played from the white (5890 yards) and blue tees (5132), respectively.

I was happy with my selection of the sand tees on the first hole when Dave had a 491-yard par four start compared to my 465. I hit a long drive left, finding my first deep fairway bunker of the day. Headed out toward the Puget Sound, the first hole is a big test to open a round.

Hole 1: Par 4 (498/491/465/436/361)

The second hole, while shorter, would not prove to be much easier. Massive sand traps line the fairway, and a slippery infinity green was pinned in the back left, making for a long approach to get close.

Hole 2: Par 4 (404/395/366/337/301)
Hole 2: Par 4 (404/395/366/337/301)
Hole 2: Par 4 (404/395/366/337/301)

The third is the first of the par threes at Chambers Bay, and is aptly nicknamed “Blown Out.” With a subtle wind in our face, the short 130-yard shot played significantly longer than expected, as my nine-iron was short by fifteen to twenty yards.

Hole 3: Par 3 (165/145/130/111/92)

The fourth is a short par five by most course’s standards, but at Chambers Bay plays anything but. With a tee shot straight down the fairway, the green is reachable with a massive second shot, but flirts the entire distance with a massive sand and waste area that falls far from the hitting surface.

Hole 4: Par 5 (568/530/480/406/347)

From highly elevated tee boxes, the fifth plays downhill and between parallel waste areas that must be avoided for any chance of par.

Hole 5: Par 4 (490/465/441/423/323)

Six, while not overly intimidating from the tees, has one of the toughest green complexes on the entire course. With three craggy bunkers surrounding its narrow green, the mounding around the fairway leaves most wayward tee shots with blind approaches. I was blinded entirely, and found myself in the narrowest of these greenside bunkers (to the left), which did not end well for me.

Hole 6: Par 4 (447/418/369/315/283)
Hole 6: Par 4 (447/418/369/315/283)

A normally long par four nicknamed “Humpback,” the seventh is currently playing to a more manageable distance around 300 yards. The actual green has been out of commission since February, and is being reworked to soon feature an uphill approach area that keeps short shots from falling more than 50 yards from the green, and well hit shots from consistently bouncing long.

This will be a glorious par four, with two large fairway mounds that resemble the hump-like backs of the celebrated whale for which the hole is named.

As it is currently just over 300 yards, this is far from an easy hole, with a rolling green (normally a fairway, of course) found in a dramatic swale adjacent to the sand collection area.

Hole 7: Par 4 (508/482/449/435/363)
Hole 7: Par 4 (508/482/449/435/363) with the “humps” beyond

The eighth provided all kinds of issues for my game on Sunday. The hillside left is tall and slopes towards the fairway. Not even this huge slope could usher my first two shots toward the fairway, though, and I found myself hitting from high off the hillsides. My third shot was well-struck from a hiking path forty-plus feet above the playing surface, landing on the green and subsequently rolling down and off the right side. It would take me four attempts to putt the ball hard enough up this greenside mounding to finally re-find the putting surface.

The number one handicapped hole on the course, the entire right side drops steeply from the fairway and can add considerable distance to this already long par five.

Hole 8: Par 5 (602/557/523/488/441)
Hole 8: Par 5 (602/557/523/488/441)

The ninth is one of the most highly elevated par threes I have ever seen. The teal, navy, sand and white tees are one hundred feet above the green, with almost vertical sand traps lying thirty feet beneath and right of the green complex. At 168 yards from the sand tees, a prevailing head wind held my six-iron up high enough to bury short at the base of the front-side trap, leaving a wall of sand to be carried to find the green surface.

Hole 9: Par 3 (227/202/168/144/132)
Hole 9: Par 3 (227/202/168/144/132)

The tenth hole runs parallel to the first, but requires two much more demanding shots. The dunes and fairway bunkers on each side of the fairway make accuracy off the tee important, and the approach is even more challenging to a narrow green with deep pot bunkers all around.

Hole 10: Par 4 (398/381/360/330/311)
Hole 10: Par 4 (398/381/360/330/311)

The eleventh has a huge mound in the middle of the fairway that is easily driven to leave a mid-range approach to a well guarded green that is fronted by a long right-side sand trap. This trap must be carried to a green that is surrounded by high mounds and slants heavily from right-to-left. Hitting to the right side of this green should usher the approach on nicely. The left side of the fairway is much more open around the green, and can be bailed out to for a less tricky approach.

Hole 11: Par 4 (500/457/425/402/378)

The twelfth hole at Chambers Bay is best described by its name: “The Narrows.” This uphill drive is short at 262 yards from the sand tees, but is anything but easy!

High dunes encompass each side of the driving area, and anything sliced will end up in tall fescue with no visible approach. I found myself on one of these dunes, which created one of the most fun shots of my entire round.

A course employee and I found my Callaway Hex Black embanked in a hillside just off a walking path, about 75 yards from the front of the green. This green is long – about 50 yards from the front to the back, and the left side of the complex is heavily raised and can be used to bank shots off of to find the putting surface. The staff member gave me a line which was easily 15 yards further left than I’d expected, and I somehow managed to hit a pure shot off the bank and roll to about 30 feet above the pin. We shared a bit of a  “bromance” on this hole, ending in high fives and an enthusiastic fist bump.

Hole 12: Par 4 (304/281/262/246/219)
Hole 12: Par 4 (304/281/262/246/219)
Hole 12: Par 4 (304/281/262/246/219)

The thirteenth is a wonderful par five. At 512 yards from the sand tees, the drive is to a wide area that is primarily blind. From there, the hole gets very interesting. Huge lowered sand traps that are dropped from the right side of the fairway area influence a layup to about 100 yards out, and the left side of the green area rolls right to a small green that falls off to that side.

Hole 13: Par 5 (534/527/512/486/437)
Hole 13: Par 5 (534/527/512/486/437)

The tee shot on the long par four fourteenth is awesome. The back tees are played from highly elevated boxes, and must carry about 200 yards of depressed wasteland to find a fairway that slopes strongly from right-to-left, and considerably downhill. I had one of my longest drives of the day on this hole, leaving about 120 yards in to a large green that slopes right to left on the back.

Hole 14: Par 4 (521/496/407/383/309)
The fifteenth, nicknamed “Lone Fir,” features the only tree on the entire golf course prominently against the back drop of the mystical Puget Sound. A short par three, this is my favorite hole at Chambers Bay.
Use the left side of the green area to roll the tee shot from left to right toward the center of the green, or aim to the back of the putting surface to carom the shot off the raised back-side.
Hole 15: Par 3 (172/139/127/116/103)
Hole 15: Par 3 (172/139/127/116/103)
A long sand area runs the length of the right side of the sixteenth hole, parallel to the train tracks and shoreline of the Sound. The tabletop green is nestled between sand on the right and long sides, and a tall dune beyond.
Hole 16: Par 4 (425/396/359/323/279)
Hole 16: Par 4 (425/396/359/323/279)
The seventeenth is a gorgeous par three that plays somewhat comparably to the fifteenth. A mid-range tee shot of 172 yards from the sand tees plays to a green that is risen above sand traps short and to the right, while the back falls ominously to a lowered collection area that requires a challenging, short uphill approach to re-find the putting surface.
Hole 17: Par 3 (206/191/172/142/119)
Hole 17: Par 3 (218/206/142/119/92)
The finishing hole at Chambers Bay is a mid-length par five from the sand tees of 514 yards. The fairway is mercifully wide, but narrows toward the green area and is defended on the right side by a long sand trap and on the green surface itself by significant undulations. I had three great shots to get close on this hole, only to find myself ten feet above the pin with a horrendous downhill putt that took me three strokes to finally hole.
Hole 18: Par 5 (604/541/514/487/462)
Hole 18: Par 5 (604/541/514/487/462)
Hole 18: Par 5 (604/541/514/487/462)
David had the right idea, holing out from 40 yards off the green for birdie.
Chambers Bay is a magnificent golf course, and a wonderful eight-mile walk that culminates in a view up to the clubhouse that is perched well above the eighteenth green. Thankfully, a short walk to the snack shop by the first and tenth holes leads to the shuttle bus and a merciful ride up to the clubhouse.
The number 22 ranked golf course in the country (GolfWeek, 2012), Chambers Bay was a logistical magnum opus to bring to life during last week’s work trip: Checking the clubs, renting a car, driving two and a half hours to and from Portland, and all in a short time frame that left ten minutes of range time. I cannot say enough, though, how well worth the efforts it was!
If you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest, do not miss out on the opportunity to play this Robert Trent Jones, Jr. masterpiece before the best in the world do in 2015.
For additional photos of Chambers Bay, and for updates on the course and customer service programs for 2014, please visit this link:
Course Wrap-Up:
Location: University Place, WA
Yardage: Teal-7564, Navy-7088, Sand-6420, White-5890, Blue-5253
Slope/Rating: Teal-142/76.8, Navy-141/74.7, Sand-136/72.1, White-130/70, Blue-130/71.1
Par: 72
Weekend Rates (walking only): $205

Erin Hills: Teeing It Up for the 2017 US Open By Paul Seifert

Hot off the presses for GolfWisconsin:

Erin Hills: Teeing It Up for the 2017 US Open By Paul Seifert

As a side note, I am very happy with the way this article turned out. All of the behind-the-scenes work creates a nice blend of experiential writing and background. It is my hope that for years when people are curious about the site of the 2017 US Open (“Erin Hills – where’s that?”), they will find this article and it will give them all the info they’d been hoping for.

I hope you all have a great weekend!
– Paul

Golf Course Review: Erin Hills

 

In rural Southeast Wisconsin is one of the state’s true golfing gems: Erin Hills.

The rugged terrain of Erin Hills looks and feels like the most natural land in the world. The course and its layout, though, are far from natural. In fact, the past seven years have brought radical changes to this beautiful piece of land.

It has always been the goal of current owner, Andy Ziegler, and the course’s former owner, Bob Lang, to host a championship event at Erin Hills. That dream has been realized in the past year, when following a rigorous selection process Erin Hills was named the site of the 2017 US Open.

Championship events are no new thing for Erin Hills. In 2011, it was the site of the US Amateur. Watching it on ESPN for four days whet my appetite to experience this amazing course for myself, and it did not disappoint.

The grand entrance to Erin Hills

I had the privilege of spending several hours with Rich Tock, Director of Operations for Erin Hills, prior to my round. Rich is a legend in Wisconsin golf, having previously been the Head PGA Golf Professional at Ozaukee Country Club for 21 years. He is also one heck of a golfer, holding the record for low round at a number of great Wisconsin courses, including the Milwaukee Country Club. Rich is a man who knows golf, and his passion for the sport and the future of his course is unequivocal.It was a real eye-opener hearing about all the details that go in to making a course tournament-ready. When Ziegler purchased the course from Lang in November of 2009, the wheels were in motion to secure the event. Narrowed down from a group of eight contending courses, Erin Hills was chosen for the US Open over Shinnecock, Cog Hill and five others.

Its vast landscape, championship event specific features like a virtual highway (which will support camera crews and logistical teams, and runs around and through the heart of the course), and the ability to handle the 75,000 fans per day that are expected tee up Erin Hills beautifully for the demands by Mike Davis and his USGA governing body.One of the first tasks for new ownership was the removal of all paths and gravel, which were subsequently seeded for fescue. The course simultaneously removed 325 trees and built a new maintenance building, practice facilities and entrance road. They then moved the one home on the course to the property’s outer limits [and donated it to a worthy cause], resulting in a lack of any homes or manmade structures other than integral course facilities.

The fairways at Erin Hills, like those at the Straits Course at Whistling Straits, are fine fescue that is closely shorn and roll like nothing I had ever played on. There is still a small amount of poiana grass in the fairways, but it is being phased out to provide an entirely fescue experience. Some areas of the fairways are slightly browning, and I was interested to learn that this is dormant fescue (not dead grass).

The greens and tees are entirely bent grass. The greens normally run at an eleven to eleven and a half on the stimp meter, but are sped up to twelve to thirteen for tournament play.

Because of the fine fescue on the course, motorized and pull carts are not allowed at Erin Hills. The eighteen-hole trek is eight and a half miles walking down the center of each fairway. Had I been wearing a GPS tracking device, it would have shown significantly more mileage for my round.

In the past three years, the course has ripped out and reseeded every bit of fescue on the course. This was not only done in the fescue areas just off the fairways, but on the hillsides and meadows, as well.

The hillsides of the moraine landscape at Erin Hills have been covered in glacial rock for centuries. Liz, who provided us with a tour of “The Village,” worked on the maintenance crew from the age of 13, coming by the course after school to clear stones from the fields and hillsides. It is this type of commitment and attention to detail that has helped secure the most prestigious of all golf events for Erin Hills. It is also the demands and suggestions by the USGA that have not only closed the course down for several extended periods of time, but have drastically changed the course’s play.

The beautiful ninth hole, for example, was previously the course’s “Bye hole.” It was the nineteenth hole that was played to settle up bets in square matches, and was not part of the course’s original eighteen because it was felt that it did not fit well with the rest of the course. Adding this wonderful hole (Rich’s favorite on the course, and certainly one of mine), and removing the previous tenth hole (which consisted of all blind shots), played a part in bringing the course’s par score down from 73 to 72.

Other changes played a part, including turning the seventh hole in to a par five (previously a par three with a blind tee shot), and changing ten from a par five to four. Other “minor changes” included adding a new bunker on three, a new back tee to extend eight, and adding a new tee on five.

Following the removal of most trees in 2010, the course reworked the edges of all their bunkers, reestablishing steeper and more structurally fortified fronts. Their perimeters jut in all directions, and are almost never circular in shape, requiring tough stances to get bunkered shots out.

Not only is the land at Erin Hills set up ideally to host a large-scale event, but the course itself is adaptable to be played at an unlimited number of lengths and levels of difficulty. The swirling winds in such an open area can make stretches of holes either unbelievably difficult, or thankfully more playable. Eleven through fifteen for us were straight into the teeth of the wind. With accuracy at a premium, they were challenging to say the least.

With five to six sets of tees on each hole, the multitude of length combinations at Erin Hills is staggering. The 2011 US Amateur played to 7,750 yards, but the course can be extended to over 8,000. This will be the longest course played in the history of the US Open. For average players like myself, the 6,700-yard green tees were challenging enough.

Do not expect to score what you would at a “normal” golf course here. Erin Hills is far from a normal course, and if you are going to spend the money, make sure you enjoy it, too.

Three of the four players in our group employed caddies. What does that cost, you ask? A caddy costs $50 per person, plus tip. I expected a good tip to be around $25, but the minimum is $45.

Our caddies, Tyler and Blaine, were excellent. Not only do they have a wealth of local knowledge, but they are invaluable in the short game. The greens roll perfectly true. Not only are they fast, but they have a lot of break. Downhill putts are slippery, and uphill putts require a bit of extra oomph. After making my initial read, I would ask and the caddies would tell me the right line within seconds. Within inches, they were right each time.

Erin Hills has a world class practice facility, including a huge driving range that features an abundance of practice greens, and laser rangefinders to help lock in distances. As my cousin, Frank, said, “You know you’re at a nice course when the range balls don’t have lines on them.” With the range balls being brand new TaylorMade Pentas, this is a very nice place.

The championship range we used today is the same that will be used for the US Open. Standing room and grandstands will abound in the long fescue area that backs the tee area, and there is a third teeing area on the far side of the driving range for players who are looking to get away from the crowds. The everyday practice tees are located to the right of the championship ones. The course rotates stations frequently to consistently provide fresh grass to warm up on.

Part of the practice facility
To the left of the championship tee boxes is a vast chipping area, complete with bunkers and fairway to approach from to practice shots inside one hundred yards. I did not have time to use this area, but would love to spend hours on it any other day. The practice green is large, and features a variety of slopes that will be found on the course. The only practice greens I have found that compare in size and variety of putts were at Torrey Pines and Whistling Straits (both championship event sites).

Dial in your shots on the range, because the course requires precision. Starting with the first hole tee shot, the fairways are tight – they will be drawn in even tighter for the US Open – and anything off the fairways can get awfully difficult. The rough is long, and the plethora of craggy fairway bunkers look brutal to hit out of.The course is right now as it will be for the 2017 US Open. Erin Hills made the aforementioned changes required to host this event in just three years what would have taken any other course five to seven.

The first hole is a medium-length par five that plays to 539 yards from the green tees. The tee shot should be played to the right side of the fairway, and the second shot over the central fairway bunker. The approach plays shorter than it looks. Playing to the left brings in the marsh area and a steep drop-off from the green, while hitting short to the right can filter on.