ERIN, Wis. — Affection consistently has been a advantage for Bob Lang. It’s attraction that bedevilled him.
It was Lang’s eyes and affection that created Erin Hills and the 117th U.S. Open that’s actuality played this anniversary on its breathtaking rolling hills amid 45 account northwest of Milwaukee.
But it was his attraction that overextended him financially and took it all abroad from him, apprehension him this anniversary in a camp netherworld, a beholder at the advance he conceived afterwards advancing to the sobering ability he had to advertise the acreage in 2009 aback he ran out of money.
To attestant Lang adrift about Erin Hills with all the action alive about him — the best golfers in the apple playing, the tens of bags of admirers packing the grandstands, the accumulated tents, the fizz — is akin to a kid continuing on the alfresco attractive in while addition abroad twirls his babe about the ball attic and canoodles with her at the prom.
While he sat agilely in a golf barrow in the adumbration at the Erin Hills caddie barn conversing with The Post, Lang was intermittently bright with pride and staring wistfully at the surroundings.
It was accessible to see how admired he was as the owner, with key bodies he assassin in the alpha — the superintendent, the arch pro and caddies — spotting him and greeting him warmly.
This cannot admonition but tug at Lang’s affection — no best actuality a allotment of that accustomed brotherhood — not to acknowledgment watching the U.S. Open he promised to accompany to Erin Hills actuality played on the advance he created.
“No, I’m not sad,’’ Lang insisted. “My affections are it’s surreal … and it happened. My business plan was to acquaint everybody alpha in 2000: ‘I’m activity to accompany the U.S. Open here.’ Anybody I would allocution to, I’d acquaint them that I was activity to do it.’’
So he did. He aloof didn’t get to backpack the football into the end zone.
This is the way Lang, who comes off as a perpetually absolute soul, rationalizes it all in his mind: He started the chase and handed the billy off to Andy Ziegler, who bought the acreage from him in 2009 and accomplished the job.
“It was a 10-year journey,’’ Lang said. “And all the bodies that followed me … accomplished it and it was done. I ran out of money, Andy Ziegler came in and bought the property, and he had the assets to adapt Erin Hills for the U.S. Open.’’
Lang is a paid adviser for Ziegler, who bought the advance from him for $10.5 actor in 2009 afterwards Lang had put a appear $26 actor into it.
Lang awash his acknowledged agenda aggregation to accompany Erin Hills to activity and he, too, spent his children’s bequest on the project.
“I didn’t own this golf course,’’ Lang said. “My three accouchement endemic it. It was in a trust. Their approaching was the Erin Hills golf course. It was my accommodation and my accommodation alone to body and advance my children’s approaching in a golf course. I capital them to accept it. I did that for my accouchement and grandchildren.’’
Lang’s captivation with Erin Hills began with a buzz alarm in 1999 from a man called Steve Trattner, who was gluttonous a client for the acreage he could not allow himself. The moment Lang visited the acreage he fell in adulation with it, seeing its potential.
And so began the odyssey.
It was a activity that included Lang affairs 130 added acreage (for a appear $8 million) about the golf advance he capital because he didn’t appetite anyone to be able to see a distinct abode from the property.
The bodies who awash him the aing acreage were acquainted of how abominably Lang coveted the acreage and they took advantage, inflating their prices. Lang, adjoin the admonition of his golf advance architects and USGA controlling administrator Mike Davis, bought the acreage anyway.
This was the alpha of the end for Lang’s captivation with Erin Hills, as he overextended himself so abominably he was affected to sell.
“Was it needed?’’ Lang said of the eight added accoutrements of acreage he purchased. “No. No one said I bare it. I was actual amorous about it … and afresh affection angry to obsession. Aback did it about-face to obsession? Aback I aboriginal fabricated up my apperception I was activity to buy the backdrop with the houses on the hill. That’s aback I became obsessed.’’
There were camp happenstances surrounding Erin Hills above Lang’s self-destructive obsession.
In January 2006, six years into Lang owning Erin Hills, Trattner was arrested and answerable with killing his wife, 36-year-old Sin Lam, in their home. Police letters said he became affronted that she capital a divorce. He was bedevilled to 35 years in at Waupun Correctional Institution, which is amid about 40 afar northwest of Erin Hills.
Another askance account to the story: Lang aboriginal hatched the abstraction of alluring a U.S. Open while he was at Pebble Beach by himself during the 2000 Open, which Tiger Woods concluded up acceptable by a almanac 15 shots. It was there Lang looked about the iconic allotment of acreage by the Pacific Ocean and anticipation to himself, “Erin Hills is a bigger allotment of acreage than this.’’
Ten years later, and about a year afterwards Lang was affected to advertise to Ziegler, the USGA appear it was application the 2017 U.S. Open to Erin Hills. That advertisement came, of all places, at Pebble Beach during the 2010 U.S. Open.
“Did I overextend myself? Yes, of advance I did,’’ Lang said. “Would I change things? Of advance you’d change things. Would I body the golf advance again? Absolutely. Yeah, I did it.
“Would I buy the [extra] acreage again?’’
His articulation trailed off afterwards that aftermost articulate question.
Lang said he’s embarking on a “new chapter’’ to clean his business life. He owns 15 aboriginal aeon paintings of Abraham Lincoln, the better accepted clandestine accumulating in the world.
The collection, which Lang said “is account millions’’ and which he already planned to donate, is housed at the Gettysburg Museum of History in Pennsylvania. Lang said he’s gluttonous “the appropriate patron’’ to acquirement it and accord it in their name because he can no best allow to accord it.
He, too, talked of purchasing an Alabama appliance aggregation “that will attempt with Ikea,’’ and resurrecting his greeting agenda business.
“That is my recovery,’’ Lang said. “That’s how a guy comes aback with a new life. This is my additional act.”
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