A Moment With Andy Ziegler, New Owner of Erin Hills
Tuesday, 20 April 2010 14:12

AndyZiegler

If you've been following the sale of Erin Hills to a new owners and well as the courses efforts to land the 2017 U.S. Open, then you know who Andy Ziegler is. If you've got money tied up in Artisan Partners, LLC, a $50 billiion dollar investment firm, then you know Andy. If you are a follower of Wisconsin golf, you definitely know Erin Hills.

A long-form interview on golf, indeed a rarity today if it wasn't done by a reporter from Golf Magazine, Golf Digest of Golfweek, was recently found in the Milwaukee Journal.  Amazingly, they still pay for someone to report on golf.

Yes, there are still a few "old timers" that are allowed by their papers to cover golf and one of them is Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Jounal Sentinel. This long-form interview with Andy Ziegler , the new owner of Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wisconsin, is a great look into what makes Erin Hills' new owner tick.

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There were few interesting insight that I wanted to pull from the interview:

Q: Is this a course that can make money? Or because of its location, price point and the walking-only attachment, is it destined to be a course that will struggle to be in the black? And is that even important to you?

A. It's not important to me that it makes money. We believe it's a golf course that can operate at a break-even. I'd be delighted if we could get it to break even and run it indefinitely that way.

I don't think, in today's economic environment, that anybody should go into the golf course business with a need to turn a profit because it's very difficult to do. But we are pretty confident that we can get it to a break-even point.

Q. Are you still sticking to the tentative reopening date of Aug. 1?

A. Tentative is the right way to describe it. We think we'll be in a position to open by Aug. 1. That's our plan. That's our target. But if the golf course isn't in a condition that we're happy with, we won't open until it is in a condition that we're happy with.

Q. Are you 100% committed to making Erin Hills a walking-only course?

A. Well, we're committed to trying to do it, let's put it that way. At the end of the day, if nobody comes to play golf walking, then we'll come up with another plan. We don't have any carts this year, so for this season it is going to be walking only. There's no retreating from that.

It is interesting that, if you read the reader comments at the end, people complained about the course conditions, likening it to that of a simple country course. Clearly Mr. Ziegler recognizes that he needs to make an big investment in the course to attract a U.S. Open.

Also, the new owner is looking at Erin Hills, not as a money-making venture but more like a playtoy.  Professionally managed of course, but something that he doesn't have to turn a profit on.

He owns racehorses in Florida, a golf course in the the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin and countless other trophies obtained by a wealthy man.  Hosting a U.S. Open is probably the pinnacle of golf course ownership on par with Doral or Pebble Beach so winning a bid in 2017, is like winning the Kentucky Derby.

The Hacker's Guide has been invited to review Erin Hills Golf Course when it reopens late this summer.

You can read the rest of the interview with Andy Ziegler here .

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