Erin Hills made its way on to most golfer’s radar during Brooks Koepka’s 2017 U.S. Open win, which kicked off his incredible run of four majors won over the following two years.
Brooks put on one hell of a show, but golfers took notice of the incredible site in Wisconsin and were captivated by the lush green fairways bordered by the golden fescue rough, and rightfully so.
Before diving into the experience, it’s best to understand the story of Erin Hills.
The 652-acre property in rural Wisconsin is the product of the last glacier that covered south-central Wisconsin. As a result, the land had been naturally sculpted and the team of architects Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry took a minimalist approach and focused on figuring out ways to highlight and maximize this special piece of land.
This facility was built for the avid golfer. Erin Hills is a walk-only golf course, and to maximize that experience Erin Hills employs professional caddies that have arguably the coolest caddie barn that you’ll ever find at a facility.
Golf at Erin Hills
Erin Hills is one of the truly special walks in the game of golf. You’ll find yourself in awe throughout the round, and for golf that is as big and bold as Erin Hills is, the course is surprisingly very playable with ample landing areas throughout the round.
You’ll find yourself enamored with the opening three holes of golf, and how the architects decide to start your round.
Erin Hills opens with a par-5 that skirts wetlands on the left, but also provides an ample fairway and plenty of room to bail out in the rough on the right as long as you avoid the bunkers down that side. The wetlands continue up the left side of the hole, but once again you’re given ample space up the right side of the hole including your approach shot into the green. It’s not easy, but it also doesn’t punch you in the face to start your round.
The par-4 2nd hole is one of the standout holes on the course. It’s a short hole at 358 yards from the back tees, and a carry across the marshy wetlands brings you to a massive fairway that gives ample space on the right before you get to the fairway bunkers at the top of the hill. A more aggressive tee shot up the left opens up your view of a tiny green with a nasty little pot bunker off the middle right of the green that catches a lot of balls. It’s fun, fair and starts to set you up for the rest of your round.
As you walk up to the 3rd tee of the long par-4 3rd hole at 476 yards from the Black tees, you are able to catch an incredible view of the whole property from this spectacular vantage point. Once again, even though the hole is long, it plays fair with a large fairway and hazard up the left side. Even a good drive is left with a long approach uphill to the elevated green. By this point you are aware you are at a U.S. Open venue, and it’s all systems go for the remainder of your round.
We could literally go hole-by-hole here as every hole is extremely well designed and special. Instead, here are a few favorites that really stand out:
- 9th hole: This tasty little par-3 maxes out at 165 yards with no water or out-of-bounds in site. Easy right? Absolutely not! The elevated tee shot gives you a great vantage point of this tiny green, and many who find themselves in the bunker are shocked at how quick an easy 3 can turn into a 5 in the blink of an eye.
- 14th hole: This risk/reward par-5 requires a well-placed tee shot. Your tee of choice changes this hole completely as it plays at 613 yards from the Black tees, or more than 100 yards closer from the Blue or Green tees at 507 yards. If you can avoid the fairway bunkers off the tee — especially the long skinny bunker that runs through the middle — you can find yourself with the ability to reach this par-5 in 2. That’s no simple task though as the uphill green has a false front that runs way down. Even if you decide to lay up, it’s still no easy walk in the park as the angle of your approach still brings that false front heavily into play making even a short wedge shot require all of your skills.
- 15th hole: This par-4 a must-see favorite. It’s extremely straightforward off the tee and at 370 yards from the Black tees and often times a long iron is all you need. Just make sure not to find one of the two fairway pot bunkers, with ample fairway around them to help avoid trouble. The approach shot is where this hole peaks. The uphill approach shot is guarded by thick fescue on the left, and any shot that comes up short, right or long most likely finds one of the four narrow bunkers that are guaranteed to leave an awkward lie that may draw a few choice words out of your mouth.
- 18th hole: This monster of a par-5 got a lot of notoriety during the 2017 U.S. Open as Justin Thomas famously hit the green from 299 yards out and hit it to 5 feet during the third round. You know it’s a special shot when he didn’t even win the tournament, and yet that spot has a plaque dedicated to it! You can’t sleep on any of your shots here as it requires a long drive, a long lay up, and then an accurate approach to a small green.
Erin Hills is the only 18-hole golf course onsite, but this is one of those rare courses that you can play several days in a row and never get tired of. It’s that good.
The Kettle Loop
Yet another reason to love this facility. Erin Hills created a five-hole routing called the Kettle Loop out of the existing 18 holes for golfers who want to play a few extra holes on arrival or after their round. Utilizing two new tees and rarely used tees on a few of the holes, it gives golfers a different perspective on some of their favorite holes. Another fun feature is that that there is one par-3, two par-3 1/2s, and two par-4 1/2s. At $40, which includes your caddie fee and gratuity, this course is primarily reserved for overnight guests and you cannot go wrong with this fun little routing.
Drumlin Putting Course
The team at Erin Hills struck gold again here with the recently added Drumlin Putting Course. This 63,000-square-foot putting green is lit up so guests can enjoy it even after the sun goes down, and it’s the perfect way to cap your day with your buddies. It’s free to all players, and make sure to grab a drink or two and let the trash talking begin around this fun little track.
Erin Hills accommodations
Erin Hills provides golfers with a warm, rustic ambience that will remind you of being across the pond at an Irish Inn. With 2021 rates as low as $340 for a double room, these rooms will serve as a perfect home base for your golf trip to Erin Hills. Suites are also options and are based on availability.
The resort also features five private, four-bedroom cottages that are perfect for a golf outing with your friends. Starting at $1,350 per night, these facilities give your group a sense of privacy and ample space to recap your rounds over a few beverages or a game of poker in the shared living room area.
Be sure to check out the site at www.erinhills.com for the latest pricing as there are often price breaks on your package depending on when you visit.
How to get here
Erin Hills is located 45 minutes away from General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, WI. It’s also extremely accessible via car and here are a few estimated drive times from some major metropolitan areas:
- Chicago, IL – 2 hours
- Green Bay, WI – 1 hour 50 minutes
- Destination Kohler – 1 hour 10 minutes
- St. Louis, MO – 5 hours 30 minutes
- Minneapolis, MN – 4 hours 45 minutes
Erin Hills is the experience of a lifetime. It’s one of those courses that the second you leave you can immediately recall every shot you hit on every hole. We suggest a minimum of a one-night stay where you play on the day of arrival, enjoy some time on the Drumlin Course that evening with your crew, and then play again the following morning as you’ll want another chance around this epic track. We suggest doing it this way if you are doing a trip where you are playing multiple properties throughout Wisconsin such as adding in Kohler or Sand Valley.
Erin Hills is one of those courses that you can’t get enough of, as you can easily do a multi-day trip here and never grow tired of this majestic facility.