Erin Hills is Wisconsins natural beauty

By Randall MellAugust 19, 2010, 8:47 pm
erin hills wisconsin golf
                                             11th hole at Erin Hills Golf Course (courtesy Erin Hills)

ERIN, Wis. – Whistling Straits is a manufactured beauty.

Erin Hills is a natural one.

Whistling Straits is a golf course striking in its brilliant contrivance on the shores of Lake Michigan, so much so that you can’t help feeling the unnaturalness of it. There’s wonder in it, absolutely, but the wonder is something closer to what you feel walking into Disney World than a national park.

Erin Hills is striking in how naturally it unfolds in front of you. The wonder in Erin Hills is how it feels like God’s hand shaped the twists and turns as much as any man’s hand. It’s a mesmerizing collaboration through glacial dunes and a sea of fescue grasses.

With the PGA Championship being played at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wis., last week, a quick side trip allowed this golf writer a chance to check out one of Wisconsin’s newest gems and home to next year's U.S. Amateur and the 2017 U.S. Open.

Erin Hills, 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, is a stern test, whether you’re playing it from the black tees at a staggering 7,820 yards or the white tees at 6,423. Stray shots are gobbled and lost in the thick, unforgiving fescue, but there’s actually adequate room to drive the ball.
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This isn’t a claustrophobic test. If you’re off your game, though, bring lots of balls. The bunkering is visually striking, the greens aesthetically so. It’s a mesmerizing walk, but a long one, among the longest this player’s ever ventured over 18 holes.

It’s nine miles from first tee to 18th green, a hike that’s harder on your caddie than it is on you. And though you don’t have to have a caddie, you’ll need one to avoid getting lost in search of some of these tee boxes.

There are a few steep climbs to the tees, but the extra work’s worth it, with vistas that show off how glacial rivers shaped the rolling contours of this land. At the 15th tee, you can see farmhouses on the horizon that look like something you would see in paintings. There’s the silhouette of Holy Hill in the distance behind you, with its church steeples making it look like Snow White’s Castle. The view from more than one tee box will make you want to stop to soak in the moment.

If you’re wondering, summer green fees are $160 with another $50 required to reserve a caddie, plus gratuities.

Erin Hills has had its challenges since the first shovel was put in the ground in its construction in 2004 and the first shot was struck there in ’06. They’ve been well documented. The owners are dealing with a hard summer of rain this year, which damaged patches of fairway grasses here and there, though nothing nearly severe enough to keep you from enjoying the golf experience. Because it really is a unique experience.

The clubhouse, with its white stone configuration, radiates Irish charm. So do the elegant old barns that serve as the caddie shack and maintenance buildings.

Some folks might wonder about the remoteness of the course, especially with the daily trek required from Milwaukee area hotels during a U.S. Open, but it’s the remoteness that adds to the charm and appeal. It’s so quiet and serene out there that it takes a few holes for the buzz of city life to leave your ears.

Really, the feeling that you’ve escaped is part of the adventure of playing Erin Hills.
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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.