ERIN — On June 18th, the USGA crowned Brooks Koepka the U.S. Open champion at Erin Hills Golf Course. Three months later, the course is still basking in its moment, even as officials have gotten back to daily business at Erin Hills.
“I’ve been coming to work a little bit later — and not staying as late,” John Morrissett, Erin Hills competitions director said.
These days, life is different for Morrissett.
“For seven years we knew the Open was coming here. Then for it to be over… We planned for a letdown and it’s just great to welcome back all our friends and our guests back here, and really for everybody to just get back in the daily routine of operations,” Morrissett said.
“I am sleeping, yes,” Zach Reineking said.
Reineking, superintendent at Erin Hills wasn’t sleeping all that much once spring arrived, with the days leading up to the U.S. Open quickly disappearing.
“It’s been nice to get through the Open and now be on the other side of it and kind of put the golf course back to its original condition and status,” Reineking said.
Once the Open arrived, Erin Hills was buzzing as it was the center of the golf universe for seven days, with Koepka walking away with the U.S. Open trophy.
“I think we’ve taken this as an opportunity to, you know, make some improvements on the golf course. As we’ve pulled away our grandstands, our corporate tents, there’s still an opportunity for us to re-seed these areas and make some improvements. We’ve done some improvements to our driving range, and we kind of see Erin Hills as a constantly evolving facility and this is just part of the evolution,” Reineking said.
“We decided let’s take advantage of this opportunity and expand this practice tee. The result is we’re now joining the two practice tees and it’s just a tremendous tee. It’ll be a fun something that golfers in 2018 can look forward to,” Morrissett said.
The U.S. Open did more than create opportunities for changes to a course already ranked in the top 10 nationally for public courses.
“We think it was a great week for Wisconsin. You know, the economic impact on the area was tremendous. It will be well over a hundred million dollars. But also everyone appreciated Wisconsin. For example there’s an article in Golf Digest with a great title of, ‘If you thought Disney World was the nicest place in the world, try Erin, Wisconsin,'” Morrissett said.
Three months after the Open, caddies in their white overalls are back to work with the golfers, and Erin Hills’ rolling fairways and manicured greens are nearly back to their natural landscape.
“It’s a fun transition as you watch all the infrastructure come up, the grandstands. It just becomes kind of part of your natural backdrop, and then as you watch these areas go away, you almost have to retrain yourself as to this is what the golf course was intended to be like,” Reineking said.
Physically very little remains from the Open, with the exception of the tall, green Rolex clock by the practice green, but the memories of a magical week in June will remain forever.
“It was fun to kind of look back on it and to see some of the amazing shots. To see the players, you know, attack a hole in a certain way that you either anticipated or you thought ‘wow, I didn’t foresee that to happen that way.’ It was great. It took probably two months for me to actually watch the whole thing in its entirety, but it was a blast to go back through and watch it all,” Reineking said.
Morrissett said some of those memories are yet to be formed, although they will be soon enough.
“Just yesterday somebody was telling me when Justin Thomas shot a 63 on Saturday that he hit an awesome three-wood to the 15th hole, almost holing it in fact. I had no idea. I knew about his three-wood on 18, that was incredible. But I didn’t know about 15, so I’ve got a lot to watch this winter,” Morrissett said.
Erin Hills officials are hopeful the course will host another Open, as well as other USGA championships in the future. The first three days of October, it will host the Marquette Intercollegiate.