Meet the architects who designed Erin Hills for the U.S. Open

Erin Hills

ERIN -- It's one thing to ask someone, "How do you like my haircut, or how do you like my shirt?" Imagine asking the world's best golfers, "How do you like the course I designed?" FOX6's Tim Van Vooren goes Beyond the Game with the men responsible for Erin Hills.

A golfer is going to win the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills, and the guys who designed the course already feel like champions.

"You just can't get any bigger honor as golf course architects than having the United States Open come to your golf course," Michael Hurtzen, course architect.

Erin Hills

"We know it's happening, but it's a surreal experience and obviously the highlight of our professional careers by far," said Dana Fry, course architect.

Dana Fry, Michael Hurtzen and Ron Whitten came to the project almost 20 years ago. Whitten says they were almost like kids in a candy store because of what they were going to be working with.

Michael Hurtzen, Dana Fry, Ron Whitten

"How important was the topography to this project? The land form is king. It was number one and I think any golf course architect would tell you this is the type of land they dream about having the opportunity to design a golf course on," said Ron Whitten, course architect.

The planning, the shaping, the re-shaping, the tree removal -- there were so many steps to the process -- all of which make the end result a veritable symphony.

"It's almost like music, it isn't the note of music, it's sort of the space in between the notes of music that really creates that mood and the amplitude or the rhythms of the ups and downs of this property is what makes it unique," said Hurtzen.

Erin Hills

Erin Hills

"You have a mix where you have these strategic, really demanding shots with risk-reward, and then you have other holes that are just flat out brutal because of length," said Fry.

All three architects sound like proud parents when talking about the course at Erin Hills -- understandably, and like any good parent, they'll say they can't really pick favorites out there but maybe they have some.

"Then you get into a short like number nine. Literally, I think it will become one of the iconic short holes in golf because with the wind blowing like it is today, and this time of year in the afternoon, between ten and 24 miles-per-hour if it's blowing like that, it is one of the hardest shots you'll ever see in your life," said Fry.

Erin Hills

Naturally, the guys who laid out Erin Hills have had an idea of how the pros will play out the course.

Erin Hills

"The weather is going to play a determining factor. If it stays windy and it's dry, then the scores will be relatively higher. They're never putted green as good as what they're going to putt at Erin Hills. They are virtually 99.9 percent perfect bent grass. You give them calm conditions and greens that good and they're going to make a lot of putts. But if you go back historically, it's not calm winds here, so that is the determining factor: how much wind we get," said Fry.

Variables exist but there is certainty to the fact that the main event is right around the corner.

"It's like waiting for Christmas when you're a little kid, you get more and more excited the closer it gets and all of a sudden, it's there," said Hurtzen.

Michael Hurtzen, Dana Fry, Ron Whitten

Most U.S. Opens are played at traditional courses, so it is quite unusual for the architects of a host course to be living when the tournament is played on their layout.