The opening hole provides a very manageable entry to Erin Hills. A tee shot played up the left side, closer to the wetlands, will help the hole play shorter. Many players will attempt to reach the green in two, and the right-to-left slope of the fairway can help feed the ball toward the relatively small putting surface, which gently slopes away from the player and has lots of subtle movement. This hole will likely play as one of the easiest in relation to par.
The shortest par 4 on the course is also one of the most strategic. This is one of several holes at Erin Hills that feature a blind or semi-blind tee shot. Those who attempt to drive the green will need to hit a very precise shot to the smallest putting surface on the course, which slopes from front to back. A miss to the left will leave a very delicate pitch from several feet below the green’s surface.
This hole, which hugs the southern end of the property, underwent extensive renovations after the 2011 U.S. Amateur here, with the green being moved to the player’s right and closer to the drive zone. Most players will hit drivers to a well-bunkered fairway that slopes significantly from right to left in the drive zone. Players will have a chance to chase their uphill approach shots onto the large putting surface, which features two levels divided by a pronounced ridge.
Tee shots that find either of the fairway bunkers will leave a challenging second shot. Because of the scarcity of trees, players may have difficulty picking a reference point for their uphill second shot. They must also guard against hitting their approaches over the green, particularly if the hole is playing downwind, as the closely mown area slopes away and leaves a demanding up and down. The putting surface is shallow, particularly on the right side, which features a false front.
This hole is the first on the outward nine to play in an easterly direction. It features a pair of bunkers on the right side of the drive zone, and a tee shot that favors the left side will provide a better view of the green. As on many holes at Erin Hills, the fronting bunker is perpendicular to the putting surface, which also features a backstop on the left that may be used to feed a shot back onto the green.
There is thoughtful flexibility in the design of this hole, which plays with the prevailing wind and features the longest green on the course (48 yards). The green slopes away in a subtle fashion from front to back, obscuring the putting surface at the back of the green. Because a front hole location is particularly challenging, due to the slope and a false front that can take shots away from the hole, a forward tee will likely be employed.
The tee shot on this par 5 is very strategic, with several of the hole's 14 bunkers narrowing the drive zone and a prevailing wind against the player. More bunkers could come into play on the second shot, which is more demanding than that of the par-5 first hole. Approach shots that miss to the right will leave a challenging up and down to the largest green on the course, with a prominent ridge that divides it into distinct quadrants.
Players will need to choose their angle carefully on the tee shot, which is partially blind and is played to a drive zone that has no bunkers, but slopes from left to right while it doglegs from right to left. With three deep bunkers fronting a relatively shallow green (26 yards), the approach shot favors the player who can land their shot softly, although there is a helping slope on the back-left portion of the putting surface.
The shortest hole on the course should not be underestimated, as wind is likely to affect the tee shot, played from about 25 feet above the relatively narrow green. The putting surface, which generally slopes from front left to back right, also features a false front. Some players may not be able to play their recovery shots toward the hole from out of the severe bunkers, particularly the daunting one at the back left of the green.
The lone hole on the course that plays in a northerly direction features an expansive drive zone with plenty of contours, including a downslope on the right that can help carry balls farther down the fairway. The shallowest green on the course (24 yards deep) is bisected by a ridge that creates two distinct tiers, including a much smaller raised area on the right side. Many players will likely find themselves attempting to save par from left of the green.
The blind tee shot is perhaps the most daunting on the course, as players must choose their line carefully to a fairway set at a right-to-left diagonal. The fairway, which has been widened since the 2011 U.S. Amateur, slopes from left to right, with more room on the right than it appears. The deep bunkers fronting the green are not as close to the putting surface as they appear. The small green slopes from left to right and from back to front.
The teeing ground has been expanded here to provide more flexibility on a hole that features a narrow landing area off the tee, with another helping downslope for players who hit it far enough down the right side. However, those who miss the fairway to the right could face an awkward sidehill or downhill lie for their approach shot to an extremely narrow green that is crowned, with subtle slopes running toward the front and back of the putting surface.
The par 3 plays from hill to hill and features a large bunker to the left of the green, along with a swale that helps feed errant shots into it. Players who miss the green to the right will likely see their ball fall away, leaving a difficult uphill pitch to a putting surface that slopes away from them. The green is 40 yards deep and affords several strategic hole locations, including one on a small plateau at the front left.
This hole features setup flexibility in teeing grounds as well as a large green, lending itself to risk-reward options. Tee shots that favor the right side provide a better angle of attack to the green, and those who attempt to reach the green in two must hit a precise shot, guarding particularly against the severe dropoff to the right. A variety of shot options are available from the closely mown areas around the putting surface, which features a large false front.
Those who attempt to drive this green will be challenging a small putting surface set on a plateau that will likely repel all but the most precise shots. The player who lays up from the tee is not guaranteed an easier route, as the firmness and slope of the fairway, along with numerous bunkers and the variable wind, will create some uncertainty. A spine bisects the green, leaving a challenging two-putt for anyone on the wrong side of it.
This par 3 plays in an easterly direction to an elevated green that angled from the front right to the back left. The two-tiered putting surface is 42 yards deep but very narrow, and slopes significantly from back to front. Tee shots that miss the green to the left, right or long will leave a demanding up and down, particularly from any of the deep, narrow bunkers on both sides.
The only hole on the course without a bunker may seem benign, but it features an undulating fairway that can leave players with an uneven lie for their approach shot. A large mound on the left can obscure the player's view of the putting surface for his second shot, particularly from the left side. Approach shots that miss long or to the right can bounce away from the green, which slopes from back to front and has a lot of subtle movement.
This is a three-shot hole where players need to hit two accurate shots to leave themselves with a scoring club for their approach. If they get out of position off the tee, it will be difficult to catch up, as several bunkers will come into play and the putting surface is not receptive to a shot from 200 yards away. A miss to the right will leave a testing recovery to a putting surface that slopes from front right to back left.
- Courtesy of www.usopen.com