USO II - First hole - grandstands

Spectators watch practice rounds at Erin Hills during the 2017 U.S. Open.

While there is no guarantee the U.S. Open will someday return, the United States Golf Association has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to Erin Hills by awarding the public course in the town of Erin two more of its prized championships.

The USGA is announcing today that it will bring both the 2022 U.S. Mid-Amateur and the 2025 U.S. Women’s Open to Erin Hills, bringing to five the number of championships the course will have hosted in its first 19 years of existence.

Erin Hills, which opened in 2006, already has played host to the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (2008), the U.S. Amateur (2011) and the U.S. Open (2017).

The USGA’s faith in the course underscores what the organization thinks of owner Andy Ziegler, the team he has assembled and Wisconsin’s golf community, which has enthusiastically supported multiple major championships over the last two decades.

But if Erin Hills didn’t measure up as a championship test, the USGA wouldn’t keep coming back.

Using a massive glacial footprint as their canvas, architects Dana Fry, Michael Hurdzan and Ron Whitten stayed true to their mission of preserving the land’s natural contours. Their design stressed flexibility in teeing grounds and angles. And when Ziegler purchased the course from original owner Bob Lang, he made conditioning of the fine fescue fairways and bentgrass greens the highest priority.

“First and foremost, for us it starts with the golf course,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA. “Erin Hills is such a great test for the world’s finest players, whether they’re men or women or mid-amateurs.”

The U.S. Women’s Open has been held twice previously in Wisconsin, both times won by South Korean golfers at Blackwolf Run in Kohler. In 1998, Se Ri Pak won the title in a memorable Monday playoff with Jenny Chuasiriporn. Na Yeon Choi won in 2012.

The 2025 Women’s Open will be held May 29 to June 1, preceded by practice rounds May 26 through 28. The championship is open to any female professional or amateur with a handicap index of 3.4 or less and typically draws more than 1,500 entrants. There are 25 qualifying sites worldwide, and the field is set at 156 players.

The U.S. Mid-Amateur is open to golfers 25 and older with a handicap index of 3.4 or lower. It was held once previously in Wisconsin, with Steve Wilson winning the title at Milwaukee Country Club in 2008.

The Mid-Am field consists of 264 players, 64 of whom advance to match play. A second course is necessary for 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, and Erin Hills again will partner with Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in Wauwatosa. Blue Mound also partnered with Erin Hills for stroke-play qualifying for the 2011 U.S. Amateur.

Qualifying rounds for the 2022 Mid-Amateur are scheduled for September 10 and 11, with match play starting the next day. The 36-hole championship match is scheduled for September 15.

As for the U.S. Open, Bodenhamer said the USGA was not put off by low scores in 2017. Brooks Koepka won at 16-under 272 and Justin Thomas tied the U.S. Open 18-hole record with a 63 in the third round.

Bodenhamer pointed out that Erin Hills was the first par-72 venue for an Open in 25 years and that weather conditions couldn’t have been more favorable for scoring. The course was softened by rain, anticipated wind never arrived and the USGA erred on the side of caution in setting up the course with unusually wide fairways.

“We’re evaluating our selection process for the future,” he said. “It’s hard to get too far out because things change. Owners change, municipalities change, even the climate changes. It is totally safe to say Erin Hills is top of our mind. The low scores made for an incredibly exciting championship and a great champion in Brooks Koepka. I’ll say this: the score would not be a disqualifier for us.

“We like Erin Hills very much. I think that’s a very safe statement.”

garyd@killarneygolfmedia.com

Gary has covered golf in Wisconsin since 1980 and is a multiple award winner in the GWAA writing contest. He was inducted into the WSGA Hall of Fame in 2017 and joined Wisconsin.Golf in 2018 after a distinguished career at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.