Did Erin Hills Pass the Test?
Well that depends on who was grading it! The USGA always tries to make its U.S. Open courses a stern test for the best golfers in the world. For the governing body, an even par score for four days would be considered a great effort. If that is the measuring stick, then Erin Hills failed to live up to the hype.
The USGA selects courses that they can manipulate into a tough track. They want a course to play long. Erin Hills at nearly 7,800 yards fit that bill. They like the rough to be penalizing thus asking golfers to be accurate. With fescue knee deep to swallow up errant drives, this too seemed to meet the criterion though many fairways were awfully wide compared to past venues. The USGA also likes to have lightning fast greens, testing even the best of golf’s putting machines. There Erin Hills may have been lacking.
The one variable that the USGA cannot control is the weather. Rains that fell throughout the week kept the greens soft and receptive. The wind which normally blows at 20 plus mph laid down until the final round on Sunday.
So how difficult was the course. By the looks of the scores – not that difficult. Forty-four players broke par in the first round, a U.S. Open record. Thirty one broke par for the entire tournament with Brooks Koepka’s -16 winning total tying the record for the best score in relation to par. So it would seem Erin Hills failed. Or did it?
The top three golfers in the world rankings failed to make the cut. Eight of the top 12 were not around for the weekend. The course was not as easy as it appeared.
Therein lies the rub. Some people think a U.S. Open track is not legitimate unless the world’s best golfers are reduced to the likes of the everyday duffer – like me! I don’t feel that way. There was plenty of danger even without the weather making things a lot easier. I think we should give the golfers credit and let up on the course.
The view from my seat suggests that Erin Hills was a perfectly acceptable venue for the U.S. Open. It would not bother me in the least if it is put back on the schedule in the future.