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« Tiger Trails Paris Hilton, Kanye, Arnold, Charlie Sheen In Unpopularity Race | Main | Weir To Have Surgery On Rough-Induced Injury »
Friday
Aug192011

Erin Hills Longest Course In USGA History Even Though Distance Increases Have Stabilized Since 2003

The USGA released the course info for next week's U.S. Amateur and announced that Erin Hills is the new back tee yardage champion!

RECORD YARDAGE: For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Amateur will be the longest course in USGA history. At 7,760 yards, Erin Hills surpasses the 7,742 yards played at Chambers Bay at the 2010 U.S. Amateur. Chambers Bay had overtaken the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif., which measured 7,643 yards for the 2008 U.S. Open, and 2006 U.S. Amateur host Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., which measured 7,473 yards.

And this is fun:

PAR AND YARDAGE: Erin Hills will be set up at 7,760 yards and will play to a par of 36-36–72. The companion course, Blue Mound Golf & Country Club, will be set up at 6,622 yards and will play to a par of 35-35–70.

Gene Sarazen won the 1933 PGA at the Raynor-designed Blue Mound which is a whopping 1000 yards shorter than Erin Hills, yet par is 70 to Erin Hills' 72.

Check out the yardages:

The front nines at the two courses have a 600-yard differential, but only one-shot to par difference?

Blue Mound has a 492-yard par-5, while Erin Hills has four par-4s over 490.

The back nine at Erin Hills weighs in a 3,939, with a 675-yard finishing hole.

Now, recently the USGA's Mike Davis has been known to not ever come close to setting up a course to its maximum yardage and he's to be commended for that.

However, in the Tee It Forward era, we see a second consecutive year of a record-length golf. Granted, 7700 yards falls withing the Tee It Forward guidelines for a PGA Tour player. However, this confirmation of today's driving distance acumen is worth noting since both the USGA ("stabilized") and R&A ("surrounded") insist average distances haven't spiked since 2003.

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Reader Comments (22)

Well up to 8000 yards to one significant figure! Progress!
Remember the fine fescue fairways may have the ball running similar to a seaside links course. So assuming it's been fairly dry, the course may play much shorter that the raw numbers. It is a treat to play that way.

But - can we Americans play hard and fast courses or do we need (Nicklaus inspired) over watered and nitrogen soaked soft plush green golf that requires towering shots dropped on a dime?

A turf moisture content update from the Badger State would be helpful.
08.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterTraveler
I played Erin Hills a couple of years ago - the gimmicky back tees were actually well over 8,000 yards back then.

So, see, it is getting shorter ;-)
08.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarky Mark
Traveler,
The early reports haven't been positive, as the recent humidity likely means it won't be too fast and firm.

Mark,
Great point, they could have gone longer, which is disturbing!
08.19.2011 | Registered CommenterGeoff
I played Blue Mound earlier this month......yes, someone will go low (60-61-62).....BUT, what a beautiful set of green complexes...
by the best.....Seth Raynor.
08.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterCommitteeman
Committeeman,
It sounds like a great place. Why don't we hear more about it? Panelists think it's too short?
08.19.2011 | Registered CommenterGeoff
They had a tournament called the "Back Black Challenge" at Erin Hills, which at the time could be played at 8400 yards for 19 holes. They ditched an approximately 175 yard Dell Hole and now the 19th hole is the 9th hole, replacing the Dell on the front as the second par 3.
08.19.2011 | Unregistered Commenterduck!hooker
Geoff:

Would you equate the players in the us am to be more likley to play like tour players or the stock broker group on saturday morning at Riviera? The us am is a fabulous tourney in its own right but clearly the usga is trying to learn a few things about how the course will play prior to the US Open there. 7700 yards is about right for a us open so no one could have predicted 6850 for the us am set up. Not really that hard to figure out. oh, and by the way, get your info straight....Erin Hills is par 72
08.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterD. Exeter
D. Exeter, it's a Par 71 for the championship:

'The 10th hole has been converted to a par 4 from a par 5'


*Insider tip: click on the link provided in the original post*
08.19.2011 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
A couple of points.

I suspect the long Erin Hills set-up is to balance the shortness of the other course? Hopefully in match play Erin Hills will play shorter?

Is there any chance of a non college player advancing very far? For example a David Eger or Buddy Marucci has little or no chance.

If the Amateur has become a sample set-up for future Opens, what does that say about the USGA? They now no longer exist primarily for the Amateur golfer but instead for a successful national championship which is played by pros.

Shouldn't these new courses be tested by another significant event prior to hosting the U.S. Men's Amateur?
08.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynn S.
I can't imagine Erin Hills will be set up even near 7,700 yards, even during the stroke play days. These days, posted "official" yardages for these tournament venues reflect the elasticity of the course, rather than the actual day-to-day yardage during the championship. The Ocean Course at Kiawah for the PGA next year *could* play near 8,000 yards, but it obviously won't. IT just means that a bunch of holes will potentially play quite differently day-to-day. Isn't variety and elasticity a good thing, overall?
08.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterTim Gavrich
But Tim, that "elasticity" seems to be in the 7300-7600 yard range. I'm scratching a single digit, but I won't play any course like that. WTF.

BTW, anybody have any sense of what the max lengths came in at, say, before 1999?
08.19.2011 | Unregistered Commenterpasaplayer
Dbh, check the scorecard that Geoff posted from the usga release, it's a par 72, four par5s and four par 3s. Insider tip: simple addition is a good skill.
08.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterWritten off
@pasaplayer, Erin Hills is being set up to play 7300-7600 for the best amateurs in the world next week, so you shouldn't expect to have to play such a course and enjoy it as a high-single digit handicapper. Their 6400-6700 yard set should be fine for you.

Your point is well-taken--course lengths have trended upward in this century--but there are still venues that are 7,000 yards and below that resist offensively low scoring with good approach shot-values and an ability to keep players from wailing away off the tee. I live 40 minutes away from TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship host course), which plays all of 6,800 yards, par 70, and almost always ends up challenging the pros more than many much longer Tour courses. The whole out-of-control-golf-ball vs. longer-courses debate is a bit "chicken vs. egg" to me at times.
08.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterTim Gavrich
Play is down. Courses are closing, yet golf keeps stretching out yardage and making courses harder. Number one complaint is that golf takes up to much time. Seems like we are going in the wrong direction. I recently played in the All American Hickory Classic with replica gutta percha balls on a nine hole course set up at 2600 yards. Long drive was 162 yards. Took about 3 hours to play twice. Was every bit as enjoyable as any round of golf I have ever played.
08.20.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Stevens
7 million yards long and a par 3 that's 130. Wow ...
08.20.2011 | Unregistered CommenterAK47
Erin Hills despite the writing on the card really isn't what I'd call "super long". Many angles can be "cut" among other "playing" distance-reducing things including the aforementioned fast-running fairways.

It is notably more interesting than the usual "Oak Hill East, Torrey Pines South, Wilmington South, Baltusrol Lower " drivel.

The longer you hit it, Erin Hills is even more disproportionally shorter as designed (if you get my drift).

Don't look for super high scores.
08.20.2011 | Unregistered CommenterGolfFan
In the spirit of the Tee It Forward program I've been starting each hole from the fringe at the front of the green. My enjoyment and scoring have improved immensely. Putting stats are still lousy, but I'm hoping the PGA will come up with a program to give me more enjoyment with that as well.
My times for each round are unchanged because I'm still wating for the group ahead of me, but I do a lot of other stuff with my smart phone in while waiting.
08.20.2011 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
OH I never judge a course by its yardage! And neither should anyone else. Geez ever play golf?
08.20.2011 | Unregistered CommenterA3golfer
More homage to playing it forward

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2glRceeUND0
08.21.2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Clayman
Committeeman, only three 65's at Blue Mound ????? Not exactly going low.
08.24.2011 | Unregistered CommenterFriend of Golf

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