Getting To Know: Erin Hills
An Insightful Interview With Rich Toch, Ambassador to PGA Professionals
By Brian Weis
Whether you have played a course 20+ times a year or looking to play the course for the first time, insights from an insider can help enhance your golf experience. Below is an interview with Rich Toch who shares some valuable tidbits about the course, memorable holes and must eats and treats at the 19th.
Give Our Readers An Overview of the Golf Course/Property
We sit on 285 acres for the golf course which make this walking only facility a challenge for some. But our professional caddies make the experience second to none. You may carry your own if you wish. This Irish feeling golf course can stretch to 8,155 yards, but the majority of our play is from the white or green tees, which makes for an enjoyable day at 6,400 to 6,750 yards. The low single digit handicapper enjoys the blue tees at 7,250 and almost no one plays from the blacks. The US Amateur, played in 2011 stretched it to 7600 yards for a couple of matches in 2011, and the Open may have a day or two at 7700 + yards unless the fescue fairways become firm and fast and then maybe a bit longer. We have 37 beds for lodging on property and a 25 acre range and short game area for idle time while on sight.
If Someone Was Looking To Golf In The Area, Why Should They Play Your Course?
Many golf junkies from around the world like to play major championship golf courses and knock them off their bucket list. We are public, not private, so a trip to Wisconsin with the Kohler properties, and coming soon Sand Valley golf courses, Erin Hills is part of their travel plans.
In addition, Erin Hills is the host of the 2017 US Open. In the 117 years of the US Open only 6 courses are open to the public.
1) Bethpage Black, 2002, 2009
2) Pebble Beach, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
3) Chambers Bay, 2014
4) Torrey Pines, 2008, 2021
5) Pinehurst #2, 1999, 2005, 2014, 2024
6) Erin Hills, 2007
What Tips or Local Knowledge Would You Provide To Help Them Score Better At Your Course?
I strongly recommend taking a caddie with a 7 to 8 mile walk a caddie gives insider knowledge of the golf course, helps with your game, finding golf balls in our native fescue, and not to mention carries your golf bag for 18 holes. Playing the correct tees is VERY IMPORTANT. Macho guys don't have the same fun when they play the golf course from the wrong set of tee markers.
Recent Awards or What You Are Most Proud About The Course?
Golf Digest: 2013/2014 Ranked 10th Best Public Course in America
Golf Digest: 2014/2015 Ranked 8th Best Public Course in America
Golf Digest 2015/2016 Ranked 42nd Best Overall Course in America
Golf Digest 2015/2016 Ranked 2nd Best Course in Wisconsin
The golf course opened in 2006, so we are very proud of these rankings so early in the history of this golf course.
What events have you hosted in your short history?
2008 U.S. Women's Public Links Championship
2011 U.S. Amateur
2013-2015 Erin Hills Intercollegiate Invitational (Hosted by Marquette University) Will not host in 2016, but will host again beginning in 2017
2015 Wisconsin State Amateur Championship
2012-2015 Lake Country Charity Golf Classic (36 High School Boys golf teams)
2017 U.S. Open (June 12 - June 18, 2017)
Please discuss how important it was for Erin Hills to be featured nationally during the 2011 U.S. Amateur in preparation for the 2017 U.S. Open?
The U.S. Amateur, the premier amateur competition in the world, was a great thrill and honor to host. Much data was taken during the event and a few changes were made to the golf course with adding bunkers, new tees, widening or narrowing of fairways, moved the 3rd green, and propelled us to the national stage in golf. The majority of the field, which included Jordan Spieth, Peter Uihlein, Scott Langley, Russell Henley, Kelly Kraft, Patrick Cantlay ( #1 Amateur in the World at the time), Justin Thomas, Harris English, Beau Hossler, Tom Lewis, Patrick Rodgers, Blaine Barber, and Donny Hopol, the youngest participant at age 15 and Randy Haag, the oldest at age 52 was one of the strongest fields in US Amateur history. Their abilities proved to us some changes needed to be made for 2017.
What do you learn as a staff from that event that will assist moving forward to 2017?
The US Amateur was a wonderful stepping stone and allowed us to create a wonderful rapport with the USGA Executive Committee and working with the USGA committees proved to beneficial with professional relationships. Since ownership changed in November of 2009, our focus has been # 1 to have a successful US Amateur but to have the best U. S. Open ever.
Anything else you wish to add about hosting the U.S. Open and it's importance for the state of Wisconsin?
Wisconsin is very proud to host it's first U.S. Open in the 117 year history of the event. And Erin Hills is looking forward to the success of the event. When this was announced in June of 2010, the State of Wisconsin has been on board 100% with cooperation in what takes to put on a major championship, along with Washington County, Town of Erin, and also neighboring towns, Hartford, Richfield, Sussex just to mention a few. We have provided three things at Erin Hills. A wonderful experience for the golf junkies being a public facility, the USGA to host major championships in the Midwest, and the state of Wisconsin with the economic impact this event will have and already has had. We employ over 100 caddies and another 175 people in building a brand. The Championship alone will provide nearly $130 million of revenue coming to the state of Wisconsin. With advertising the USGA provided during the Open at Oakmont this past June and over 200 million people watching this event next year from around the world, the State of Wisconsin will be on the world map. As anyone knows that has spent any time in Wisconsin, it is a hidden secret for both summer and winter sports and sight seeing. The world will know about us now!!!!
What Is The Signature, Most Talked About, or Most Photographed Hole?
Our signature hole is hole #18. From the back tees, the hole plays at 675 yards. Looking at the flagstick, you will see the lodge and clubhouse in the backdrop. Further in the distance on top of one of the highest points in Southeastern Wisconsin is the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary. It is one of many Kodak moments on the golf course.
Our yardage book describes this hole perfectly. "Erin Hills closes with a long par 5 that lines up with Holy Hill in the distance. The player must fight his natural tendency to play directly towards the green and must force himself to play his second shot well to the right. The cluster of bunkers short of the green visually dominates the approach, but the player needs to take care not to miss the green to the left, where the closely mown area will propel the ball well away from the green."
What Is Your Favorite Hole? Any Tips to Play It?
Hole #9 is one of the easiest par 5's in Wisconsin. Unfortunately the 165 yard hole is a par 3. The table top green falls off in every direction. The scorecard claims it is the second easiest hole on the property. Birdies are extremely rare and 5's are all too common. If you par the hole you should celebrate with a beverage at the halfway house.
Must Have Dish or Drink after the round at the 19th Hole?
Our most popular drink is the Fescue Rescue. 1/3 Jameson Irish Whiskey, 1/3 Lemonade, 1/3 Ginger Beer in a tall glass with a twist of lemon. I have many favorites on our dinner menu in the Village Clubhouse including the Alaskan halibut, barbeque ribs, and steak.
Who Holds Course Record and What Was Their Score?
Ben Geyer and Mike Ignasiak both shot 66 in stroke-play portion of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship. Patrick Rodgers shot 65 in 2013 at the Erin Hills Intercollegiate Invitational. Each score played the course at a different yardage.
Back Tee Stats
Championship Tees Not on Scorecard: 8,155
Rating: A Lot
7169 County Road O
Erin, WI, 53027
Revised: 08/16/2016 - Article Viewed 20,310 Times - View Golf Course Profile
Written By: Brian Weis
Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.
All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.
On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.
Contact Brian Weis:
GolfTrips.com - Publisher and Golf Traveler