Enough About Sergio, On to Erin Hills

Now that Sergio has a green jacket, it’s time to look ahead to the U.S. Open.  Where is it going to be played this year?  Erin Hills.

Where, you ask?  Erin Hills.  It’s in Wisconsin, thirty-five miles northwest of Milwaukee.  Kind of a combination of Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits.  Actually, more succinctly, it’s a British Open links imitation.

I’ve got a complaint.  A major complaint.

Reading the course website, I found this in the Frequently Asked Questions section:

What options do I have for getting around the golf course?

Erin Hills is walking only. We highly recommend using one of our professional caddies or you may decide to carry your own clubs. Outside caddies and pull-carts are not allowed.

Okay, fair enough, but that makes Erin Hills a knockoff British links course that doesn’t allow the use of pull-carts (trolleys in British parlance).

“Lanny, give us a break.  This is an upscale course that is hosting a U.S. Open, for crying out loud.  Of course they are not going to let idiots take pull-carts out on their blessed turf.”

I will respond to that with a question and an answer.  What’s the policy regarding pull-carts (trolleys) at St. Andrews?  Let’s let them answer for themselves:

There’s no need to book trolleys in advance, simply turn up and hire them from the Starters Boxes at the New, Jubilee or Balgove, at the Golfers’ Check-In in the Eden Clubhouse or at The Castle Course Reception. Trolleys are available for use all year round on the New, Jubilee, Eden, Strathtyrum, Balgove and The Castle Course.

So, you see, not only does St Andrews allow pull-carts, but they happily rent them to you.

“Uh, Lanny, the Old Course is not on that list.”

Hold on, my friend.

The use of trolleys on the Old Course is more limited. With 14 holes played to double greens, the movement of golfers is severely restricted and we therefore have to take special care to manage wear and tear on this very special course. Trolleys on the Old Course are therefore only permitted after 12 noon between the months of April and October.

It’s unclear what that means precisely (are they allowed or banned November-March), but the takeaway is that pull-carts ARE allowed on the Old Course.

Erin Hills can do what they want, as can every other course in America.  But it angers me and discourages me from playing when none of my local yokel “upscale” courses allow pull-carts.  Nor do the downscale courses, which is even sadder.

I know it’s all about the Benjamins, but the U.K. is capitalist society, too, and they allow pull-carts.  What’s the deal in the U.S.?  Must we squeeze every penny out of an industry until we destroy it?

I’ll end with this,  a product review no U.S. golf media company will touch with a 10-foot pole.

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5 Responses to Enough About Sergio, On to Erin Hills

  1. ThreeWiggleExpert says:

    I agree that it is weird that a course would not allow pull carts, even if it’s mandatory to pay to rent one from the facility. If you’re a mandatory walking course, why the hell would you not allow pull carts, again, even if someone has to pay for it?

    I’d like to hear the “logic” Erin Hills has.

    Side bar, Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits are newer, easier examples, but another course that comes to mind, that has hosted a number of US Open’s, is Shinnecock (Hills). It’s actually the US Open course for next year (2018).

    • lannyh says:

      Shinnecock is where Corey Pavin won his U.S. Open! I would cut that course some slack for having been around so long. Way before there was an “American-style course.” (If there even is such a thing.)

      It just seems like these “links courses” in the U.S. are pale imitations or something. Maybe I’m too hard on them. Latitudinally, the locations are closer to the UK than to Florida or Texas. Still, I feel it should be links courses for the British Open, and thick, tall, plush rough for the U.S. Open. The PGA Championship can experiment.

      Of all the newer courses, I believe I’d have to say Whistling Straits is my favorite.

    • lannyh says:

      Oh, on the topic of pull-carts, I am thinking of doing a FAQ sort of thing about issues in golf. Reasons why it is expensive, slow, not as fun, whatever, as it used to be. List people in favor of rolling back the ball (Nicklaus, Woods, others); list benefits of that (less real estate needed, easier to find balls, less time to play, etc.); list problems with that (the equipment manufacturers would take a hit [I guess. Just on clubs, though, not balls, gloves, shoes, apparel.] Anyway, the “othering” of pull-carts would fit in there somewhere. (I hope I used “othering” properly…) If you don’t categorize and codify a set of talking points, any attempts at debate will be circular except from the guys who stand to profit from the status quo. I’m going to try to cover everything. Like, for example, if you stopped hyper-manicuring courses, some course maintenance people might lose their jobs.

      You have to admit that when Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are saying the ball needs to be rolled back and yet there is no serious discussion of doing so, well, something weird is going on.

      I plan to cover everything, including the benefit that might come with ever longer-driving players. Daly got a lot of publicity, then Woods, then Rory and DJ. Makes this year’s model always seem like a sui generis distance monster.

      • ThreeWiggleExpert says:

        I don’t disagree in principal with rolling the ball back, but I seriously think it’s the tour players that need to be targeted. I mean, the ball Rory hits 350 yards, is the same ball the 20 handicapper is hitting 220.

        On the issue of pull carts, many courses I’ve experienced have gone away from allowing walking, period, due in large part because they are, often times, in residential areas that have significant distance between holes. Others do it to basically prohibit walking because of pace of play concerns.

      • lannyh says:

        I don’t see that that matters. Just roll the ball back.

        I don’t have info on amateur distances, but, yes, that’s something that would need to be considered.

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