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Chambers Bay understudy now running things for US Open at Erin Hills

Chambers Bay understudy now running things for US Open at Erin Hills

Eric Steimer helped set up the U.S. Open when it was played at Chambers Bay in 2015. Now, he’s the guy running things at Erin Hills.
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Eric Steimer helped set up the U.S. Open when it was played at Chambers Bay in 2015. Now, he’s the guy running things at Erin Hills.

Up to 2015, when Danny Sink did all the talking in creating a blueprint for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, Eric Steimer did a lot of listening – and learning.

And now Steimer’s applying that knowledge. Steimer, 29, is a first-time U.S. Open championship manager for this week’s national open at Erin Hills.

Steimer is in charge of many of the same outside-the-ropes things Sink was at Chambers Bay – volunteers, parking, transportation, food and beverage, security and medical aid.

Like Sink did when he arrived in University Place in 2012, Steimer has had to start from scratch in building a successful game plan for Erin Hills, which is located in this sleepy, farm town just northwest of Milwaukee.

“The biggest thing … being the lead guy, it is all relationship-building,” Steimer said.

That is something Sink was a natural at, explaining to civic leaders in University Place and other surrounding towns, or to key figures in high county or state government positions what the U.S. Open was and what the week of golf would be like.

On the other hand, Steimer has been often teased, even as far back as his days as an intern in 2007, about his muted personality.

“He needed to come out of his shell,” Sink said.

When it came to accomplishing tasks, Steimer was as reliable as they come. Under Sink, he was in charge of directly managing volunteers for the two years he was in University Place.

Steimer obviously made a favorable impression, because a few months after the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay ended, he was off to Erin Hills as the new championship manager.

Unlike Chambers Bay, which is owned by Pierce County, Erin Hills has a sole private owner – Andrew Ziegler, who purchased the course from original owner and developer Bob Lang in 2009.

But Steimer has still had to travel all over Wisconsin to make U.S. Open presentations – starting with the 2,000 nervous residents of Erin.

“Eric had to hit the ground running and get his (public relations) legs,” Sink said. “I was the mouthpiece for everything at Chambers Bay, and he took a back seat. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. He was out talking to folks to make sure they knew what was going on.”

Steimer has also learned to adapt on the fly, as was the case Tuesday.

One of the designed parking lots for spectators was wiped out because of rainfall. So, Steimer had to find another outlet.

“I had to run down to Miller Park (home of the Milwaukee Brewers) to say, ‘We might need some parking,’ ” Steimer said.

And the problem was solved.

“The biggest change for me, I was so tunnel-visioned (at Chambers Bay),” Steimer said. “This is much more macro. You don’t get into as much minutiae details.”

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