Support Matters Most at the 2017 U.S. Open

What does it take for a golf course to host an event on the scale of the 2017 U.S. Open Championship? The short answer is: a lot of support. That includes about 125 volunteers from around the world and countless hours of preparation — much of which was done in the late evening and early morning hours using Toro® equipment and irrigation.

Held June 15–18, 2017, the event was the first major championship at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wisc., and the first U.S. Open to take place in the state. With tens of millions of eyes on the course for four full days, every detail had to be right.

Following USGA requirements, all of the fairways had to be mowed in one direction — all before the early tee times required for such a large field. It took a lot of machines (and a lot of operators) mowing side by side to pull that off.

Crews used Toro Reelmaster® 3550 fairway mowers on half of the fairways and Reelmaster 3555s with a 100-inch (2.5m) cutting width on the rest for even greater productivity. They also used Toro Greensmaster® TriFlex™ mowers on the approaches.

“With having Toro 3550s and 3555s, those are quintessential pieces of equipment for us,” commented John Jacques, associate superintendent at Erin Hills. “The [3550s] allow us to get into some of our tighter fairways. They weigh less, [which] puts less impact on our turf, especially with the amount of times that we’re mowing.”

Reliability was also essential for the crew. “It’s the most important thing,” said Alex Beson-Crone, assistant superintendent at Erin Hills. “If there’s 22 fairway mowers going out and one isn’t good, well, that’s one too many.”

In addition to the mowing equipment, Toro Workman® GTX and MDX utility vehicles featuring custom-designed hood wraps were used to move volunteers to where they were needed over the course’s 650 acres of rolling hills. GTX models with a 4-seat configuration were especially useful for transporting more people at once.

Reinders, the course’s local Toro distributor, provided support leading up to and throughout the event with product know-how, experience and parts availability. Erin Hills has had a strong relationship with Reinders for as long as the course has been in existence.

“I actually walked this property back in 1997, well before they broke ground, and we’ve been involved with them since its inception,” noted John Jensen, commercial equipment division manager at Reinders. “[The U.S. Open was] quite the monumental task. It was great to be involved in it. We started planning this with Zach [Reineking] and all of his crew here at Erin Hills well over a year ago.”

Zach Reineking, director of course maintenance at Erin Hills, described the course’s relationship with Reinders and Toro in video footage from the event. “I just cannot say enough about what Toro’s done for Erin Hills, the U.S. Open [and] the USGA,” Reineking said. “They go beyond just supporting the U.S. Open [with] the commitment that they have, not only with equipment … [but] supporting our staff in general. It’s just been a really great kind of bond and relationship that we’ve established with Toro and we just can’t thank them enough.”

That commitment, partnership and relationship is a real-world example of the Toro philosophy at work. “Our main focus is always on supporting our customers and helping them solve their challenges,” commented Tony Ferguson, senior marketing manager with Toro. “What matters most to us is helping customers achieve what matters most to them. In this case, a successful U.S. Open and representing Erin Hills in the best possible light were priority No. 1, and we were honored to have had a role and to have delivered on that commitment with Toro irrigation and turf maintenance equipment.”

In the words of Adam Ayers, assistant superintendent at Erin Hills, “You’ve got the top players in the world playing, so therefore you need the top equipment in the world to give them the best playing conditions that they deserve and they want. Without Toro, there’s no way we could do that.”

For more comments from the Erin Hills team and video footage of preparations for the U.S. Open, visit