This year, the U.S. Open will be contested at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wisconsin, for the first time in the tournament’s history.
Also certainly a first in U.S. Open history: One of the key players in the host course’s construction is spending his life in prison. Introducing inmate No. 500995 at the Waupun Correctional Institution, otherwise known as Steve Trattner. What’s the bespectacled, bookish father of two doing in prison? Trattner was convicted of murdering his wife in 2006 and sentenced to 35 years.
While Bob Lang, builder of Erin Hills, and the trio of architects doubtless played larger parts than Trattner, he was the man who convinced Lang to build the course and facilitated the purchase of the property Erin Hills sits on. Trattner also oversaw the construction of the course as it was developed from a cattle farm to a golf course worthy of the U.S. Open.
But should we even be celebrating Trattner or his role? Seven months before Erin Hills opened, January 4 2006, Stephen Trattner beat and strangled his wife to death—so said the courts.
Here’s what happened, according to the official complaint. Trattner was in the kitchen of the couple’s Mequon home shortly before 11 p.m. when his wife delivered some earth-shattering news: she wanted a divorce.
At this point, Trattner came totally unglued, grabbing his wife by the shoulders and shaking her. When she fought back, Trattner slammed his wife’s head into kitchen cabinets and bounced it off the floor, effectively beating her face in before strangling her until she was dead. Instead of calling the police at this point, Trattner went to bed. The next morning, he got the couple’s two children up and off to school and conducted business before finally calling the police.
Let’s deal with reality here for a moment. Let’s remove any sympathy for an otherwise non-criminal man who committed a “crime of passion.” Focus on the fact that a woman, Sin Lam, is dead for no reason other than wanting to end a marriage to a selfish man.
A selfish man who quit a lucrative software design job to dabble in golf course design and reportedly developed a serious drinking problem; effectively turning his back on his family, then murdering his wife for putting herself and their children first.
The idea that Gary D’Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviewed Mr. Trattner multiple times and is running a lengthy series on the building of Erin Hills is disgraceful to Sin Lam’s memory. There ought to be no sweeping of her murder under the rug to focus on Trattner’s role in Erin Hills construction.
And in case there’s any confusion as you continue hearing about Trattner and the glory of the Erin Hills project, let’s spell this out further. The U.S. Open, Erin Hills, golf, these are things that do not actually matter in the real world.
The murder of an entirely innocent 36-year-old mother of two young children? That is something that matters. Shame on any person or media outlet that heaps praise on Stephen Trattner and ignores that fact.