As many as 35,000 people per day will visit Erin Hills during the U.S. Open next June, walking the grassy, undulating course in the town of Erin in Washington County.
The 117th U.S. Open will be held June 15-18, 2017. This is the first time the competition has ever been held in Wisconsin. Representatives from the USGA on Monday gave media a tour of the course.
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The U.S. Open usually has a $120 million to $135 million economic impact on the area in which it is held, said Janeen Driscoll, director of public relations for the United States Golf Association, which hosts the annual event. That includes direct, indirect and induced spending, which includes food, hotel rooms, people employed and businesses involved, Driscoll said.
Everything from construction materials to cheese and sausage for the event menus is being sourced locally, she said.
“It’s a fairly big effort. We have one of our employees who moves into the area at least two years in advance,” Driscoll said.
Erin Hills is a 7,823-yard, par 72 course designed by Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten and opened in 2006. It is located in the rolling hills Kettle Moraine area and was ranked the eighth best public course in the U.S. by Golf Digest.
Corporate hospitality tents will be set up at the first, sixth, ninth, 10th, 13th and 18th holes, which the USGA says offer the best views of the course. The prices range from about $9,000 for a table on one day to $325,000 for a platinum premier tent package on the 18th hole.
The USGA is about halfway through securing corporate sponsorships, many of which are from Chicago and Milwaukee companies, Driscoll said. Corporate hospitality offerings include tables, which seat up to 15; suites, which hold up to 30 people; and tents, which can host up to 100 people per day. All corporate hospitality options include entrance, preferred parking, food and beverages in an air-conditioned setting.
“As you would surmise in the Midwest and even around the country, the types of companies who can purchase corporate hospitality can be financial companies and then manufacturing and technology,” she said. “What we’ve seen is a lot of companies are using them to reward their staff. We’ve seen a lot of companies use them for networking opportunities. We’ve seen companies bring in clients.”
The USGA has been making a big push to secure corporations’ commitments as they set their budgets for 2017, Driscoll said.
“What’s unique about our championship, as opposed to, say the NFL, the Super Bowl—it’s only one night. (At the U.S. Open) you can really talk with your corporate patrons, your business prospects and you can really spend some quality time with them and that’s really different than most sporting events.”
Bethesda, Maryland-based Ridgewells Catering will provide the food at the championship, sourcing its ingredients from a number of local companies, Driscoll said.
“(Ridgewells CEO Susan Lacz) is very particular about coming into markets and trying to work with local purveyors—I know that she’s talking to sausage companies, cheesmongers, companies that can make pastries,” she said.
The championship rounds of the tournament usually sell out, Driscoll said. The general public can attend a day of the tournament for as little as $50. Tickets went on sale in June.
The U.S. Open will require more than 5,000 volunteers to run smoothly. Nearly 8,000 have already applied and there was a waiting list as of August 2015, one month after volunteer applications opened.
About 1,500 of those volunteers will work in merchandise, selling U.S. Open logo apparel. The merchandise team arrives at least five weeks before the event. More than 100,000 hats will be sold during the championship week.