Shinnecock Hills will host the 2018 US Open from June 14-17 and the sublime links course in New York State promises to bear witness to a special tournament. What are some of they key holes players will want to watch out for?
It will be the fifth time the course—which is situated in Southampton on Long Island—has hosted the U.S. Open after previously staging the major in 1896, 1986, 1995 and 2004. This time Shinnecock Hills will stretch to 7,445 yards and provide the sternest of tests.
The oldest golf club in the United States has undergone modifications over the years since first opening its doors in 1891, but the test has remained tough. With some of the original holes still in play, we take a look at where the 2018 US Open could be decided.
Key Holes at Shinnecock Hills that could decide the major
Hole 5 (Par 5—589 yards)
Most of the field will see the 5th as an opportunity to make a birdie or better. Despite the hole being lengthened by 52 yards, a good drive leaves the opportunity to reach the green in two. Even for those not attempting to get there, a short pitch to the slightly raised green will be in store. The green is undulating but this is a real chance to get a shot up on the course early on. The 5th is definitely a key hole at Shinnecock Hills.
Hole 9 (Par 4—485 yards)
The front nine finishes with a hole known as Ben Nevis, perhaps a nod to the Scottish heritage of links golf as well as the nature of the hole. Not only is it a lengthy par-4, but it is all uphill—unsurprisingly so when you consider it has been named after the highest point in Scotland. An approach shot will be played from the foot of the hill to a green in which only part of the flagstick will be visible. There is no respite from the green either with anything long punished with a tricky downhill chip or putt. The field at the 2018 U.S. Open will have to pay special attention here.
Hole 11 (Par 3—159 yards)
This key hole at Shinnecock Hills is a short par-3 played uphill to a green that could trouble some of the world’s best. There’s four bunkers to contend with protecting the front of the putting surface, which has a fairly tough slope on it from back left to the front right. Going long to avoid the sand traps leaves an awkward chip back down the green, making club selection crucial on this little tester.
Hole 17 (Par 3—175 yards)
A change to the green on the penultimate hole means we could see different pin locations than in past U.S. Opens at Shinnecock Hills. The angle of the tee shot means clubbing needs to be perfect to avoid the bunkers left of the green and to keep the ball on the putting surface. That’s because it falls away to both the front and the back. The cross-wind will make things even more difficult and a par is no bad result, making it one of the major key holes at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
Hole 18 (Par 4—485 yards)
The drama will unfold—and the champion be crowned—on a closing hole which is now 35 yards longer. It starts with a blind tee shot and now requires a bit more club for the approach to the green, which is large and slopes from front to back. Many will see this as a chance to sign off with a birdie. Hole 18 is sure to challenge players looking to take the 2018 U.S. Open title home.
See also: Who are the 2018 U.S. Open Contenders?