Why Erin Hills Should Be On Every Golfers Bucket List
An Interview With Richard Tock - President
By Brian Weis
1) Why should Erin Hills be on every traveling golfers bucket list?
To date there are only 4 golf courses that are open to the public that have hosted a U.S. Open Championship. Pinehurst, Bethpage Black, Torrey Pines, and Pebble Beach. New on the list will be Chambers Bay in Tacoma, WA in 2015 and of course Erin Hills in 2017. In 2017, it will also be the first time a U.S. Open Championship will be played on a golf course owned by one in individual. The 111 year old U.S. Open Championship has been played mostly at private clubs. A golf course is elevated to a different level when it hosts major championships, and especially a U.S. Open.
Erin Hills just hosted the U.S. Amateur Championship for the first time in the state of Wisconsin August 22 - 28, 2011. Erin Hills opened in 2006 and hosted the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship in 2008.
For the golf enthusiast, it is always a pleasure to play the same golf course that the best players in the world play. Then, by following the players, either in person or on TV, one can relate to the shots he/she have to execute as they compete in the tournament. Until recently, that hasn't been possible because of the difficulty of playing private clubs. Also, in the last 18 months, many projects have been completed that makes Erin Hills just a spectacular golf course to visit, either playing or viewing the Amateur.
2) What recent changes have been made?
Here are the recent changes:
a. The removal of many trees from the golf course, which makes it a true links golf course and provides beautiful views from the entire golf course. We also removed 325 stumps to make walking the golf course a much safer place for spectators and golfers alike.
b. We aggressively attacked the Po Annua on the fairways and now have less than 5%. The remainder is fine fescue on all the fairways.
c. We took out all the gravel, blacktop and dirt golf cart paths on the golf course. We replaced them with a blacktop road that circles the golf course with one artery in the middle that is used for the maintenance vehicles on a day to day basis. The construction is also designed to handle 18 wheelers for the Open in 2017. Bleachers, port-o-potties, concessions, etc.
d. The borders of each fairway that were mostly trees, dirt, or weeds have been replaced with 165 acres of fescue seed which changes color each season. It looks just beautiful for all 6 months the golf course is open. May 1 to November 1. Although it does make it quite a challenge if one tends to stray off the tee.
e. We put in numerous drain tile to eliminate drainage problems during big rains.
f. We aerify our greens the first week of April and aim to have the greens back to top condition by May 1 when we open so we never have aerified holes on greens, tees, or fairways. (We do the fairways and tees in November after we close.)
g. We removed a huge hill that had to be cleared on the 2nd shot on hole 1. We enlarged the 2nd green. Moved the 4th green back 50 yards. Changed the approach on 5th green. Took out the 7th hole which was a blind par three and made it a par 5 and then added the bye hole as the 9th hole. Moved the 10th green 100 yards forward making it a great par 4. Remodeled some bunkers on hole 16. And changed the bunkering on the 18th fairway.
h. We built a 20 acre practice range, with 5 tees; two bent, and 3 fescue tees at a 360 degrees. Added a beautiful short game area to practice any kind of shot imaginable.
i. Built a new entrance road to give the visitor a nice visual entrance to the property.
j. Enlarged the parking lot and fixed the drainage.
k. Donated a 5 bedroom home that was visible from the entire golf course to Habitat for Humanity. They moved the home, sold it, and will build 5 homes for families in need with the profits. A great thing.
2) You have lodging above the clubhouse and you recently built cottages on property. Can you provide details on these amenities and costs for 2011?
Our lodging options are as follows. Erin Hills has 16 bedrooms in The Lodge which consists of 10 individual rooms with full baths, and we have three rooms that share the bedroom space with two double beds. The individual rooms are $175.00 per bed. The 6 beds that have to share a room are $125.00 per bed.
On May 1, we finished construction on three cottages, each with four master bedrooms, king size beds, private baths, TVs and a common room with flat screen TVs, wireless internet, gas fireplace, wet bar and outdoor patio. These rent for $800.00 or $900.00 per cottage. They surround the newly constructed clubhouse which has fine dining, room for private meetings or dining and an outdoor porch overlooking the golf course from high on the hill in the newly constructed Village. The new facilities have a total of 28 beds, in emergencies with the use of cots we can sleep 6 more.
3. For those who might fly in or use a private jet? What are the nearest airports?
Erin Hills is located in the Midwest which makes for easy travel from any direction. We also will provide transportation to the golf course for those traveling in private aircraft. They normally use Crites Field in Waukesha, but can also use Mitchell Field. Hartford Airport at this time only has 3,000 feet for runway, which won't land the Citations, Gulfstreams, Challengers, etc.
4. Erin Hills is establishing itself as a self-contained golf destination but many golfers piggy backed it with other golf course in Wisconsin. For 2011, what other courses in the area should golfers conquer?
Herb Kohler started it all back 25 years ago when he built the River Course in Kohler. He then added the Meadow Valleys and with the American Club he created a destination for golfers around the world. He hosted the Women's U.S. Open at the River course in 1998. I think it was 1998. Then of course he built Whistling Straits and then the Irish course. He hosted the PGA Championship in 2004 and again in 2010. That put Wisconsin on the map for Major Championships. Then along came Erin Hills, and hosted their first major with the WAPL (Womens Amateur Public Links) and now the U.S. Amateur in 2011, and of course the Open in 2017. Whistling hosts the Ryder Cup in 2020. That makes Wisconsin one of the most active states in the country hosting major championships. So when golfers visit our state, my staff will accommodate their wishes in setting them up on other area golf course if the timing is good.
We will suggest all the public golf courses in the area, such as Washington County, The Bog, The Bull, Lawsonia, Blackwolf Run, Meadow Valleys, Whistling Straits and the Irish Course. Many will stay with us for three or four nights and headquarters at Erin Hills. We have more and more of that with two dining options, the Pub in the Lodge and the New Village Clubhouse.
6. What has Andy Ziegler, the new course owner, meant for the property?
For those that played the golf course, the first 4 years of existence found the service to be good, but the golf course condition was not what they expected from a top notch course. In 2010, we didn't open until August 1, because we made many improvements as mentioned above and really put our efforts in making the playing conditions perfect. With fine fescue it takes 3 to 4 years to thin out in the native areas, but the greens, tees, and fairways are really good now. Our efforts will continue to maintain those conditions for many years.
Just as background, Andy Ziegler purchased Erin Hills in October of 2009. I was hired a week later and asked to run his new business and create a great experience for all those that visit Erin Hills. He has added the three cottages, and new clubhouse, outdoor terrace with gas fire pits, and provided the resources to make all the necessary improvements, as well as a great vision to make it one of the great destinations in the world. Andy has great vision, great tastes, and without his ownership, I doubt very much if the Amateur would be coming to Wisconsin and without his involvement and efforts, very unlikely to host an Open. As demand calls for it, we may add more cottages. We will continue to add to the property as time goes on.
What else should traveling golfers know about the property?
We are a walking golf course only. No Carts or Pull carts. We have professional and well trained caddies or you may carry your own bag. Caddie rate is $50.00 with a minimum gratuity of $40.00
As mentioned before, we have on site housing, only 18 holes, not multiple courses, public, walking only, caddies, a 360 degree practice facility, one individual owner and a U.S. Open on our scorecard. There is no other property in the world that can say that. We are a destination of simple elegance. It is a must visit place and most likely the kind of place where those that visit us will book the same weekend, or days, the following year to assure them a spot on the golf course with housing.
For More Information
7169 County Road O
Erin, WI 53027
Article Tags: Golf Travel To Erin Hills
Revised: 09/19/2011 - Article Viewed 35,713 Times
- View Course Profile
About: Brian Weis
Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.
All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.
On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.
Contact Brian Weis:
GolfTrips.com - Publisher and Golf Traveler
More Articles by Brian Weis
NBC Sports' GolfPass Ranks Turning Stone's Kaluhyat the #1 Best Golf Course New York; All Three Courses Named in Top 8