Town of Erin Residents Pave Way for Golf's 2017 U.S. Open
The Town of Erin, about 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, is taking center-stage for one of sport’s biggest events—the U.S. Open. The tournament starts Thursday. Some residents have not been sure what to expect, while others have joined in to welcome thousands of golf fans, sports reporters and PGA organizers.
One person who has stepped up his activity is Jake Busalacchi, general manager of Tally Ho, a brightly-colored pub about five minutes from Erin Hills, the golf course hosting the tournament.
“When you drive by Tally Ho, Tally Ho is probably the ugliest green color you could see and imagine. We've talked about changing it several times, but people know us as the green building with the green shamrocks,” he says.
Busalacchi mentions shamrocks because the town is known for its St. Patrick’s Day festivities. He says they bring about 5,000 people into his pub and the U.S. Open should have the same vibe.
“I just tell everybody this is going to be seven days of St. Patrick’s Day," he says.
So Busalacchi has been preparing to serve a large PGA crowd. He ordered more liquor, updated his menu to do away with frozen food, and has brought on new employees.
The golf course expects more than 35,000 people to attend the U.S. Open each day of the event - that's more than seven times the town's population.
The pub should find quite a few customers rolling in before the tournament ends on Sunday. The golf course expects more than 35,000 people to attend the U.S. Open each day of the event – that’s more than seven times the town’s population.
Town chairperson Dennis Kenealy says he’s worked for two years to prepare Erin.
"If you drove through, you’d see some used-to-be farm fields that have been prepared for parking. You’ll see increased signage,” he explains. And plenty of traffic and people.
“It’s had some impact on the local citizens who, you know, are benefiting somewhat financially,” Kenealy adds.
One such resident is Carla Frantl. She’s renting out her home to four people from Fox Sports and staying with extended family in Sussex.
“It’s kind of a little bit of a vacation, no having to do housework,” she says.
Some residents who have rented out their houses for the week are getting between $10,000 and $15,000.
Frantl says Fox was looking to rent about a dozen other houses, and she’s heard some residents who have given theirs up for the week are getting between $10,000 and $15,000. While not everyone has felt comfortable renting their home, she says there have been other ways to become involved in the PGA event.
“(Some) are staying local and are working at the event parking cars or working concessions, and one friend's son is a caddy at Erin Hills, so he is working there during the tournament,” she explains.
It has slowly dawned on some residents what the U.S. Open means for their town, according to Jake Busalacchi back at Tally Ho.
“I keep trying to explain to people that this is like the Super Bowl of golf,” he says.
Maybe it’ll be a few days after the Open leaves town before some Erin residents realize the magnitude of the event and bask in its glow. At least, they’ll be sure to have new stories to tell when they go back to their local pub.