The Drumlin After Dark
A Creative Addition to Erin Hills Where No Two Putts Will Be the Same
It’s 9 at night at Erin Hills. Your four-ball has been on the move since 10 that morning. Driving. Playing. Dining. Opining. You have two choices:
1. The easy choice: head to bed.
2. The fun choice: play the Drumlin putting course and head to bed with bragging rights and phones full of memories.
The Drumlin putting course at Erin Hills will act as a highly-visible centerpiece to a championship venue in the evening. Not simply because of its location (in full view of those dining, staying and playing), but because of the installation of custom, low-profile lighting that will illuminate the one-of-a-kind putting surface under the Wisconsin night sky.
Its primary purpose: fun.
In August 2019, Erin Hills revealed the Drumlin — where no two putts will break the same. It’s where scores will be settled, and competitive juices can continue to flow — just as the drinks will — long after sunset.
The ‘Miniature Links’
The Drumlin, a name that nods to the ridge-like glacial landforms that can be seen throughout Erin Hills’ naturalistic design, won’t be the first putting course at a championship course.
The Himalayas at St. Andrews is the original — and most well-known — putting course. A nine-hole course was laid out in 1867 — a “miniature links” for the St Andrews Ladies’ Golf Club — by Old Tom Morris, a four-time British Open champion who influenced the evolution of the Old Course. The Himalayas is more popular than ever, with thousands enjoying it each year.
The Drumlin follows in the footsteps of the Himalayas in providing a fun distraction just steps from an international venue for golf at the highest level.
The putting course was designed by the Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design duo of Dana Fry (a co-architect of Erin Hills) and his partner, Jason Straka. It was shaped by the talented Derek Dirksen, and grown in under the watchful eye of Zach Reineking, Erin Hills’ Director of Grounds. Erin Hills’ owner Andy Ziegler and General Manager Andy Bush encouraged Fry and Straka to create a design that would complement the natural landforms already existing at Erin Hills while giving the Drumlin a level of awe that would entice guests to pick up a putter and play — even after their 18-hole round.
“The key was blending (the Drumlin) into its surroundings — just at a smaller scale,” said Dana Fry. “Quite like the new first tee complex – I like how (the Drumlin) blends in. That whole valley is a special little enclave.”
While 63,000 square feet may be small compared to the 652-acre, rolling property at Erin Hills, a central ridge bisects the Drumlin into two distinct parts — giving it a feel of front and back nines. 7,850,000 pounds of greens mix, 1,000 feet of drainage tile and 1 billion bentgrass seeds comprise the Drumlin.
The horseshoe-shaped design has up to 12 feet of elevation change and its rumpled runways will provide putts that — whether you’ve played no putting courses or played them all — are sure to jumpstart your anticipation and provide countless fun memories. (Note: the Drumlin will play as a complementary putting course — open only to Erin Hills players and overnight guests.)
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Growing (Up) on a Green
While the Drumlin blends seamlessly into the backdrop of the 10th tee and the holes beyond, it won’t play like any other green — practice or actual — found at Erin Hills.
“We have tremendous contours,” Fry said. “They can set that thing up a thousand different ways.
“For people who haven’t been to St. Andrews and the Himalayas — and experienced for themselves just how much fun can be had without being on the championship course…it’s just a lot of fun,” Straka said. “I could spend hours out there.”
Both Fry and Straka recall fond, teenage memories of playing and creating on a putting green.
“As a junior golfer I’d have my friends and family and we’d spend literally hours betting on these crazy-breaking putts, and it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as (the Drumlin),” Straka said. “I feel like a little kid again when I get out there because you see how fun it’s going to be with buddies, or a beer, or for $5, or whatever the case may be.”
Fry took competitive putting to a national level when, as a 14-year-old, he was one of two qualifiers from Kansas City to make it to the National Putting Championship held on one of Doral’s massive practice greens. While he didn’t win, it did mark a first for him.
“It was one of the first trips I ever took in an airplane and my parents even let me go down by myself,” said Fry, a frequent flyer to say the least. “I stayed in a hotel at Doral by myself — which was really crazy.”
Different Every Day
The Drumlin will mix the expansiveness of Erin Hills’ championship course with a splash of eccentricity.
“Imagine a putt breaking left, right, and going uphill, then down — all in the same putt,” Fry said.
As the maintenance staff polishes off recent additions — from new teeing areas on course to adding after-golf amenities — the architects agree on one thing: Erin Hills is only getting better.
“More than anything, the thing I admire the most about Andy Ziegler is his philosophy that no matter how good something is, you can always make it better,” Fry said. “That’s the reason he’s such a great owner and steward — he’s never going to rest on the way it is today and say, ‘This is the way it will always be.’ Like most of the truly great places in the world — and Augusta is at the forefront of this — (Erin Hills) continuously makes improvements to facilities and on-course, whether it’s changing a green, adding a bunker…Andy is of that mindset.”
Breaking It Down
Due to the nature of the green’s design, it’s possible players will play the Drumlin one day and come back the next to realize no two putts they face will be the same.
“It’s going to be ever-changing,” Straka said. “Even if you came out one day, you can’t say, ‘I was on the Drumlin and I played it.’ As soon as you move the holes, we’re going to have different putts. And you can do that 50 times over, and can literally play an entire season or come the following year and have a completely different experience.”
“The Himalayas has become part of the overall lore at St. Andrews, and I think that’s what’s going to happen at Erin Hills,” Straka said. “You have the championship golf course — just like you do at St. Andrews — but when you’re there, it’s more than that particular golf course that gets you there — it’s the overall experience. The Drumlin now becomes part of that. And it will become a rich part of Erin Hills’ history.”