For those of you heading to the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Ned Brown gives you insight on what you’re going to find as he made the trip late last week.
Saw on Twitter on Wednesday that Erin Hills was letting people in for free for four days starting Thursday to hit the merchandise tent so I went up with my daughter on Thursday.
When my daughter was younger I took her all over Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan on day trips from here in Evanston. It’s something my mother did, which I thought was a neat thing to do.
One of the spots I would take Christine was Holy Hill which is this beautiful church and national Mary shrine over looking the valley bellow.
Well Erin Hills is right bellow in that valley.
The easiest way from Chicago to get there is to take 94 to 41 then get off at Holy Hill Road.
Holly Hill Road will turn into County Road O and Erin Hills is on County Road O.
There will be two main lots for parking, which they are calling lot Red and lot Blue.
The way I went in had had some signage for the Red lot up, but it was incomplete because they switched the site of the Red lot about 10 days ago.
On Thursday they were just putting signs up around the BP gas station saying going past this point was restricted starting June 12th, but that didn’t apply yet.
The spot for the turnoff for the merchandise tent was at the Erin school. Of course, I overshot it and got directions at the next checkpoint.
The Erin school is kind of an important spot.
It is the spot where is you are getting a ride to the tournament that you are dropped off at.
Now I’m not sure I would do it, but my daughter’s generation might get a ride in via Uber and forget the hassle of parking in the Red and Blue lot and then taking the bus to the tournament.
After finding the correct route we were greeted with a heavily dug up gravel road.
Clearly they were using big trucks to haul stuff in and no one thought about the cars trying to go over the makeshift road.
It was so bad is spots that they just made us go through fields.
We finally got to the tents and I parked 20 yards from the entrance.
We went through security which was an exam of my daughter’s purse and a wand exam for metal on the both of us.
I had read ahead of time the policy what was not allowed, so I took my pocket knives out ahead of time.
I was quite surprised my car keys and belt buckle didn’t cause an issue.
We walked through the entrance and past the closed up tents.
I was a bit surprised there weren’t more corporate display tents.
There might be else where when it fully opens up next week, but Lexus and American Express are who I remember.
We went to the Merchandise tent, which is about the size of a football field.
The selection is vast and from multiple companies.
It online store is nothing in comparison.
Besides the normal big name companies the USGA has gone with local artists.
I picked up a hand made and painted ceramic tall mug from a local artist which was very nice for $45.
They also had a company from Oregon which had blacksmith hand forged items.
They had a iron shamrock Erin Hills logo bottle opener with a leather pocket for $90.
Normally something I would pass on, but the guy that did this put a lot of work into it.
With the normal hats, shirts and, of course, American flag umbrella with USGA and Erin Hills logo we did some damage on the credit card.
They did have one concession tent open as we left.
It was getting to a point in the afternoon that I thought it would be wise to grab something.
A diet Pepsi, cheeseburger and chips was $15.
Not cheap by Wisconsin standards, but by Chicago sport standards very fair.
I also saw they will have a Ruth’s Chris stand next to your normal stand, if you want something a little more up scale.
The entrance to the Trophy Club is also in that area.
I believe that is sold out on the weekend, but is still available for the first two rounds.
The reason that might be desirable even with the big price tag is there is no shade on the course.
We have been for the most part cool and wet this spring, but the heat is coming this week with temperatures in the 90s forecast.
With my heart failure, I can’t take extremes of the cold or the heat.
I always use to be able to take the cold and at this point it is so painful it has me thinking at a minimum I might have to snowbird it during the worst of the winter.
One of the thing that did surprise me in our visit to Erin Hills was there were no bugs.
With the wet spring and how green the course is I wonder how they managed that.
On the way back we stopped at Holy Hill.
Christine wanted no part of the blue plastic out houses.
I hit the gift shop, while she hit the air conditioned ladies room while listening to chant music with a guitar solo.
We did take the elevator to the third floor outlook over the valley and went down via the rustic path.
Talking to the staff in the gift shop they said they are adding staff and masses during Open week.
Considering how hot it will be Open week I would expect they will be busy, but they are well worth the visit.
The trip back was longer with rush hour traffic in Milwaukee and it got eventful about 10 miles from home when the oil pump started to go.
I got the car back and it’s in the shop now.
I hope this write up helps you get an idea of what is going on at Erin Hills.
If you want to post it feel free to do so.