ERIN, Wis. – Much of the talk – and criticism – about Erin Hills so far at this U.S. Open has dealt with the fescue. But the real problem areas for players this week could be the bunkers.
Yes, Erin Hills’ bunkers aren’t like most bunkers on the PGA Tour. They are quite brash. They come in all shapes and sizes, some areas of sand just a couple of feet wide. The sand is gravelly with little pebbles potentially causing problems both in the bunker and on the greens.
Even just outside the bunker edges, many of which are rough and eroded rather than smooth and pristine, there are holes and other areas where balls can get stuck.
“They are very untraditional from that point of view, but they feel like hazards this week, for sure,” Justin Rose said. “Not every bunker is a green light. On Tour, often you think get it up in the bunker, that’s good. But the way the ball can react around the green and roll into a bunker this week, it’s not always a given that a bunker is a good play.”
Said Adam Scott: “The bunkering is quite severe. Everything is. It’s quite a severe piece of land, there’s a lot of undulation, and therefore it probably would have been impossible to put bunkers in that weren’t severe. … There are chances of unlucky bounces, and because of the random shaping of the bunker edges there are some very precarious positions that the ball could end up.
“So if you can avoid them, it’s a good idea.”
Speaking of precarious positions, how about this stance Alex Noren faced on Tuesday?
The toughest bunker? The left greenside bunker at the par-3 ninth is pretty tricky. Just ask Oklahoma junior Brad Dalke, an NCAA champion and last year’s U.S. Amateur runner-up.
Or Whee Kim.
Jason Day said there will be some luck that comes into play with the bunkers this week.
“But ultimately it’s a hazard,” Day said, “and that’s what they’re there for – for you not to be in there.”
Or you can just do what Andrew Johnston did Tuesday. Oh, Beef…