Other golf tournaments, especially majors, carry superlatives. The strongest field, the oldest tournament, the list goes on. But only one can be the toughest test of golf, and annually, the U.S. Open retains that distinction. Your 2017 U.S. Open tickets get you a window seat to the carnage, and the triumph. No other tournament tests its competitors so completely, and none penalizes lapses in concentration so severely.
In 2017, the U.S. Open visits Erin Hills, in Erin, Wisconsin. The second, first-time host site in the past three years, questions abound in Erin Hills, but the rough will surely be punitive, and par will likely suffice. The USGA enjoys making players squirm, and it does not abide negative numbers. Relive 117 years of golfing greatness and take in the history at the 2017 U.S. Open.
Since its first playing in 1895, on a 9-hole course in Newport, Rhode Island, the U.S. Open has been America’s golf tournament. Over time, it developed into one of the four majors, both the original and the modern ones. Though the course changes from year to year, the conditions are typically the toughest in golf.
Amateurs like Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones have survived the challenges of the U.S. Open and raised the trophy, though none has won since Johnny Goodman in 1933. A path to the tournament still exists for amateurs in the form of grueling qualifying events, but the U.S. Open is firmly the realm of the professional, and even the best pros tend to struggle during play.
The U.S. Open has a way of breaking hearts, and the USGA, which runs the annual tournament, appears to delight in punishing all but the best golf shots. The main cut of rough on an Open course is usually the most penal you will find anywhere. Wayward drives are hacked out onto the short grass, strokes are lost and par is almost always a good score.
There have been exceptions to the go-for-par realities of U.S. Open golf, though. At the 100th U.S. Open, in 2000, Tiger Woods nearly lapped the field at Pebble Beach. Woods’ score of 4-under was the only one under par for the tournament, and he won by a record 15 shots. In 2011, Rory McIlroy set the all-time scoring record of 16-under par at Congressional Country Club. In general, though, par is a player’s friend at the U.S. Open.
The host site for the 2017 U.S. Open is an unknown quantity, but Erin Hills, in Erin, Wisconsin, seems to fit the USGA’s bill for adherence to tradition. Erin Hills is a public-access, walking-only golf course, with fescue fairways and rough reminiscent of Irish links. Wisconsin developer Bob Lang built the course with his own money in an effort to bring the U.S. Open to his state. Erin Hills opened for play in 2006, and hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2011. There will not be another first-time U.S. Open host site until Los Angeles Country Club in 2023.
The images from past U.S. Opens etch in the mind like the names on the trophy. Payne Stewart is frozen in time on the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2, fist forever clinched as the ball sinks into the cup. Tom Watson still runs after his chip at Pebble Beach, the one that gave him a decisive lead over Jack Nicklaus in 1982. Dustin Johnson found redemption at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, erasing the pain of an untimely three putt that handed Jordan Spieth the trophy the year before at Chambers Bay. The look on Johnson’s face as he held the trophy will always be reflected in it. 156 players will tee it up at Erin Hills in June. For one of them, the battle will end in triumph. History awaits.