Quantcast
Home / Special Sections / Shooting for the green: Tiny Erin, Wisconsin, foresees economic success with U.S. Open
The Erin Hills golf course in Eris, Wisconsin,  will host the U.S. Open golf tournament in June. (Photo: Paul Hundley)
The Erin Hills golf course in Eris, Wisconsin, will host the U.S. Open golf tournament in June. (Photo: Paul Hundley)

Shooting for the green: Tiny Erin, Wisconsin, foresees economic success with U.S. Open

To the Erin Hills golf course and surrounding businesses, the 117th U.S. Open is more than simply a weeklong golf tournament.

It’s an opportunity for this premier golf course just northwest of Milwaukee to bring an economic windfall that could benefit its corner of the state for years to come.

Erin Hills is scheduled in June to become the first Wisconsin course to ever play host to the U.S. Open Championship. Almost as remarkable, Erin Hills will be only the sixth public-access course used for the tournament.

More than 35,000 spectators are expected to attend each day of the event, and officials estimate the championship will bring more than $130 million to the community.

Local businesses and government leaders surrounding the tiny town of Erin, Wisconsin, with a population of 3,664, say they are looking forward to the increased commerce and recognition that a sporting event of worldwide renown is almost certain to bring. Benefits have already been seen and will most likely stick around well after the professional golfers, event-goers and media trucks pack up and leave.

“To us, it’s not a seven-day event,” said Scott Henke, executive director of the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, a group that represents businesses in the city nearest Erin Hills. “We’re looking at it as this is our interview … to the world.”

Of course, the most obvious beneficiary of the U.S. Open will be the golf course itself.

Janeen Driscoll, director of public relations with the United States Golf Association, said the course’s expansive footprint of 652 acres meant that extensive renovations weren’t needed.

The association tested the course firsthand, in fact, during the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship. The event gave players like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas a chance to see Erin Hills up close.

“We quickly realized that barring a few minor adjustments, such as the reshaping of a bunker complex or the extenuation of some collection areas, Erin Hills was ready to host the U.S. Open,” Driscoll said in an email.

Outside the ropes, the USGA did have to do grading and leveling work in a few places. This was done to provide a more level surface for the construction of some temporary features, including more than 350,000 square feet of tenting and more than 400,000 square feet of flooring.

Henke said the work was similar to building a small village.

And although the USGA did turn to national companies for some of this work, it also relied heavily on several local providers for plumbing and electrical equipment, potable water, office trailers and furniture, gravel for temporary roads and building materials, Driscoll said.

Henke said the course itself hasn’t been used since October. So when the professional golfers do finally show up to play, it will be as if they’re playing on a new course, he said.

“To me, that’s huge,” he said.

Some local officials expect Erin Hills to see more people visiting the course long after the pro golfers and their attendant crowds have dispersed.

“For the golf course itself, I think it’s obviously going to be a big boon,” said Dennis Kenealy, chairman of the Erin Town Board.

The town of Erin, home to only a few bars and restaurants, won’t necessarily see a huge influx of commerce. The biggest benefit might instead come from the impression the community makes on visitors.

Kenealy said he hopes people who attend the championship will have fond memories of the town’s green, rural landscape.

“I think it puts our name out there in front of people, and shows it’s a nice area to be in,” he said.

Similarly, Henke said businesses in the nearby city of Hartford are hoping for long-lasting benefits.

He said local business owners are doing their best to make themselves inviting to outsiders. Although the efforts stop short of giving every building a fresh coat of paint, they do include steps like preparing employees to answer any questions that tournament-goers may have.

The 2017 United States Open Championship

When: June 15-18 at Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin, northwest of Milwaukee. This is the first U.S. Open in Wisconsin, but the state’s fifth major championship.

Field: 156 players

Course: Erin Hills – Par 70

Organized by: United States Golf Association

Tours: PGA Tour, PGA European Tour, Japan Golf Tour

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*