A desperate phone call from Steve Trattner, who dreamed of building a golf course, to Bob Lang, a Delafield business man, set in motion a journey that would change both of their lives forever.
Note: Second in a series by Gary D’Amato Click here to read Part 1.leading up to the U.S. Open June 15-18 at Erin Hills.
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Bob Chich still remembers that warm spring day in 1999.
He and his wife Susie were doing yard work in front of their Mequon home. Steve Trattner, a neighbor, was out for a walk with his wife, Sin Lam, and their two young children.
The couples struck up a conversation and a crestfallen Trattner told Bob about his futile attempt to find investors to buy a sprawling cattle farm in the Kettle Moraine and build a golf course on it.
The landowner, Bernice Millikin, had given Trattner a deadline of Labor Day.
“Steve looked sad,” Chich said. “He said he didn’t have much time left before his chance to buy the land would expire. I said I knew a guy named Bob Lang, who impressed me as a highly entrepreneurial guy. He struck me as the perfect candidate to build a golf course.
“I said, ‘You really should give him a call.’ ”
Trattner called Lang, a Delafield businessman known for his eponymous greeting card company. The call set in motion a journey that ultimately would lead to Erin Hills Golf Course playing host to the 2017 U.S. Open, a first for Wisconsin.
It also would transform Trattner and Lang into tragic figures, their lives changed forever.