Meet Erin Hills Golf Course

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Introducing Erin Hills Golf Course

Golfers walking up the fairway at Erin Hills golf course
Golfers on the rolling fairways at Erin Hills golf course. Courtesy of Erin Hills

Erin Hills is a golf course that was built specifically with hosting a U.S. Open in mind, and in 2017, just 11 years after opening in 2006, that goal was achieved.

The Wisconsin course is built on a rolling, undulating landscape carved out by glaciers tens of thousands of years ago, when the ice on top of the land was as much as 2,500 feet high (the area was ice-free by about 18,000 years ago).

Erin Hills sits in the Kettle Moraine. "Moraine" is the geographical term for land sculpted and scoured by glaciation; "kettle" refers to the kettle-shaped depression in the land. The Kettle Moraine National Forest isn't too far from Erin Hills.

Erin Hills' longest set of tees for daily play stretch to just more than 7,800 yards, which was the approximate yardage used during the 2017 U.S. Open.

But PGA Tour player Kelly Kraft, who won a U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills, says the course doesn't play as long as its listed yardage because, "The ball can really run and get moving out there."

The golf course is set up to play firm and fast. USGA official Mike Davis once called it, "Shinnecock Hills on steroids."

Erin Hills has no cart paths and no riding carts are used; the course does provide caddies (for a fee) to golfers who want them.

Golf Digest has rated Erin Hills one of the Top 50 overall and Top 10 public golf courses in the United States.

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Getting to Erin Hills

A view from behind the green on the 358 yards par 4, second hole at Erin Hills Golf Course
The second green at Erin Hills, viewed from behind. David Cannon/Getty Images

Erin Hills golf course is located in the small town of Erin in southeastern Wisconsin, 35 miles northwest of Downtown Milwaukee. Erin Hills is 115 miles northwest of Chicago, 70 miles east of Madison, Wisc., and 45 miles south of Fon du Lac, Wisc.

Kohler, Wisc., home of Whistling Straits, is less than 70 miles away.

The closest major airport is General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, about 50 minutes away. Chicago O'Hare is about a 2-hour drive away, if the traffic is good.

  • Address: 7169 County Road O, Erin, WI 53027
  • Phone: 866-772-4769
  • Website:
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Can You Play Erin Hills?

The 439 yards par 4, fourth hole at Erin Hills Golf Course
The fourth hole at Erin Hills, a 439-yard par-4. David Cannon/Getty Images

Yes! Erin Hills is a public golf course. But while anyone can play there, it's very expensive.

The standard green fee approaches $300, with replays about half that amount. There are discounts for junior golfers and active military personnel.

Don't forget that Erin Hills is a walking-only course*: You must either carry your golf bag yourself or hire one of the course's professional caddies to carry your clubs. The caddie fee is $55 per player, plus a gratuity that Erin Hills recommends start at $65 per player.

Optional forecaddies are also available for an additional fee (group rate $100+, and a gratuity). So in a group wishing to hire caddies and use a forecaddie, playing Erin Hills can run around $500 per player. Add in food and drink, plus lodging ... and, well, the golf course better be pretty special for those expenses.

The course is closed during the winter, and the open season typically runs from around early May through around late October.

(*There are two riding golf carts on the property for the use of special-needs golfers; requests must be made at least two weeks in advance of playing.)

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Staying at or Near Erin Hills

The 403 yards par 4, 11th hole at Erin Hills Golf Course
The greens complex on Erin Hill's 403-yard, par-4 11th hole. David Cannon/Getty Images

The Erin Hills property includes a lodge plus cottages available for golfers who wish to stay at the golf course. The 11-room lodge has double and single rooms plus suites. Larger groups may want to check into the cottages. There are five, all with four bedrooms and four bathrooms.

The Erin Hills website provides info on stay-and-play packages as well as group rates.

As for hotels in the area: There are many options, particularly in the northern and western suburbs of Milwaukee. If you don't have a specific chain that you always choose, use any good hotel/travel search engine, or search Google for "hotels near Erin, Wisc." to find options.

Specifically, there are hotels in the nearby towns (all within 20 minutes of Erin Hills) of Hartford, Delafield and Oconomowoc.

Dining options are available in the Erin Hills clubhouse as well as in The Irish Pub & Terrace that overlooks the first hole.

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The Origins and Architects of Erin Hills Golf Course

The 464 yards par 4, 12th hole at Erin Hills Golf Course
The run-up to the 12th green at Erin Hills. David Cannon/Getty Images

Erin Hills was the brainchild of real estate developer Bob Lang, who decided he wanted to build a golf course that would one day host a U.S. Open. So he did. When you have lots of money and a dream, you can do things like that.

The architects of the golf course at Erin Hills were Hurdzan/Fry - Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry - with an assist from journalist and golf course design critic Ron Whitten.

Construction on the Erin Hills golf course commenced in 2004 and the course opened in 2006.

After opening, changes were made to multiple holes in response to specific suggestions from the USGA. Those changes, made in 2009-10, were done by the Hurdzan/Fry team.

Having sunk so much of his own money into the property, Lang was forced to sell in 2009. The new owner, Andrew Ziegler, head of an investment services company, mandated the walking-only policy beginning in 2010.

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Erin Hills Pars, Yardages, Ratings

A view of the raised green on the 370 yards par 4, 15th hole at Erin Hills Golf Course
The 15th hole at Erin Hills ends with a raised green. David Cannon/Getty Images

The following yardages are for the Blue tees (the second-from-the-rear on the teeing grounds) as they are listed for daily play:

  • Hole 1 - Par 5 - 560 yards
  • Hole 2 - Par 4 - 338 yards
  • Hole 3 - Par 4 - 431 yards
  • Hole 4 - Par 4 - 439 yards
  • Hole 5 - Par 4 - 439 yards
  • Hole 6 - Par 3 - 208 yards
  • Hole 7 - Par 5 - 576 yards
  • Hole 8 - Par 4 - 443 yards
  • Hole 9 - Par 3 - 150 yards

Front - Par 36 - 3,584 yards

  • Hole 10 - Par 4 - 476 yards
  • Hole 11 - Par 4 - 353 yards
  • Hole 12 - Par 4 - 434 yards
  • Hole 13 - Par 3 - 193 yards
  • Hole 14 - Par 5 - 507 yards
  • Hole 15 - Par 4 - 359 yards
  • Hole 16 - Par 3 - 184 yards
  • Hole 17 - Par 4 - 447 yards
  • Hole 18 - Par 5 - 637 yards

Back - Par 36 - 3,590 yards
Total - Par 72 - 7,174 yards

The Blue tees have a USGA Course Rating of 75.0 and a USGA Slope Rating of 139.

The yardages and ratings for Erin Hills' other teeing grounds:

  • Black Tees: 7,800 yards, 77.9 rating, 145 slope
  • Green Tees: 6,754 yards, 73.2 rating, 135 slope
  • White Tees: 6,233 yards, 70.5 rating for men/75.5 rating for women, 129 slope for men/131 slope for women
  • Gold Tees: 5,082 yards, 69.2 rating (women), 118 slope (women)

In addition, the Erin Hills scorecard is marked in such a way that golfers can play a Blue/Green combination, or a White/Gold combination. Blue/Green is rated for men, White/Gold for women.

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Erin Hills Turfs and Hazards

A view from behind the green on the 200 yards par 3, 16th hole at Erin Hills Golf Course
The green on the par-3 16th hole at Erin Hills. David Cannon/Getty Images

The fairways at Erin Hills are grassed with fine fescue, a turfgrass uncommon on Wisconsin fairways. According to the Erin Hills website, the choice of fine fescue was "to emphasize the natural contours of the property and provide a firm-playing surface that plays shorter than its length on the scorecard."

Bentgrass is used on the putting greens, which stimp at 12.5 for tournament play. The rough is fescue and the teeing grounds are bentgrass.

There are 40 acres of fairway and 30 acres of maintained rough at Erin Hills. There are three water hazards that come into play and 129 sand bunkers. The bunkers are a mix of larger, free-form shapes with traditional pot bunkers included.

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Big Tournaments Played at Erin Hills

The green on the 481 yards par 4, 17th hole at Erin Hills Golf Course
The 17th green (foreground) at Erin Hills, with the 12th fairway visible behind. David Cannon/Getty Images

The 2017 U.S. Open wasn't the first big event staged at Erin Hills golf course. The USGA has played two of its national champions there before. Both were amateur tournaments, and both produced champions who went on to professional careers.

Those tournaments and their winners:

  • 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links: Tiffany Joh
  • 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship: Kelly Kraft
  • 2017 U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka
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And a Few More Facts and Figures ...

The 165 yards par 3, ninth hole with the green on the par 5, 18th hole behind at Erin Hills Golf Course
The 9th green (foreground) and 18th green (background) at Erin Hills. David Cannon/Getty Images
  • When Erin Hills hosted the 2017 U.S. Open, it marked the first time that tournament was ever played in Wisconsin.
  • Erin Hills, in 2017, became just the sixth public golf course to host the U.S. Open. The others to that point were Pebble Beach, Pinehurst No. 2, Bethpage Black, Torrey Pines (South) and Chambers Bay.
  • Erin Hills' first USGA championship was played just two years after the course opened, in 2008. Tiffany Joh defeated Jennifer Song in the finals of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.
  • At the 2011 U.S. Amateur, in a championship match between future PGA Tour members, Kelly Kraft defeated Patrick Cantley for the win.