ERIN, Wis. – For a course that is only 5 years old, Erin Hills understandably wouldn’t yield many historical anecdotes. However, the site of the U.S. Amateur still offers some interesting facts, despite its relative youth. After scouring the course in search of interesting facts and stories, here’s what I came up with:
During a course renovation in 2009, the grounds crew laid out 24 1/2 miles of sod.
The caddie barn is, in fact, a barn. Original owner Bob Lang was driving through Iowa when he stumbled upon a random barn. He had to have it, so he bought the building and had it disassembled to be trucked back to Wisconsin.
This week, spectators are parking on an open piece of land on the golf course, then being shuttled to the course. Before the land was used for a parking lot, it was home to four houses. Erin Hills did not want any houses on the golf course, so one by one they were purchased and moved off of the property. Through the spring of 2009, the director of golf resided in the last house that remained. In the fall of 2009, new owner Andrew Ziegler decided to move the house and donated it to Habitat for Humanity. All four homes were transported through the driving range, and still are near the golf course.
From the fall of ’09 to the spring of ’10, workers at Erin Hills cleared 250 trees and changed the course’s par from 73 to 72.
There is a bell near the seventh tee that some people assume is used for weather warnings, or even to let everyone know lunch is ready. Not so. Before the seventh hole became a par 5, it was a short, blind par 3. Before the renovations, the par-3 seventh was just over 100 yards and designed to emulate a Dell hole at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland. Because the hole featured a blind tee shot, golfers would strike the bell upon leaving the green. This way, the next group on the tee knew when it was safe to hit. The bell remains, but the rope to ring it is gone. Golfers got annoyed that people would just start to ring it for fun.
In 2007, course officials were measuring distances on the 18th hole. Behind the 18th green is Holy Hill, which is a Roman Catholic monastery and a national shrine. When the Erin Hills staff measured from the back of the tee box to the center of the green, they discovered it was 666 yards. The staff at the golf course didn’t like the number associated with the Antichrist in the Bible being in view of Holy Hill, so they flipped the last digit around and listed the hole as 669 yards on the scorecard. After the course went through recent renovations, the hole measures 675 yards. The devil, ahem, is in the details.
Erin Hills was a 19-hole golf course until 2008. Between the ninth green and 10th tee was the “Buy Hole.” The short par 3 could be used by members as a challenge hole to settle a wager. The player whose ball was farthest from the hole would buy the drinks at the snack barn located near the green. Members joked that after the ninth, you would play 9 1/2 and then go play 10. The idea was not to be the one with the lighter wallet upon reaching the 10th tee.
If you stroll straight from the first tee, play all 18 holes and step off the 18th green, you will have walked 8.4 miles. Wear comfortable shoes.