The U.S. Open begins Thursday at one of America’s oldest and most famous courses, Shinnecock Hill Golf Club in Southampton, New York.
Shinnecock was the first incorporated club in America and had the first clubhouse. It was founded in 1891 by a group of wealthy New Yorkers with the iconic clubhouse being built just a year later.
Over the course of its history, Shinnecock has been rebuilt and redesigned multiple times. When it first opened it was a 12-hole design and was later converted to 18 holes in 1895. The course had been transformed to include narrow fairways and trees and tiny greens, but after 2004 that was all changed and the original feel was brought back. The fairways were widened and the greens expanded to give the USGA more options for pin placements.
While many believe that tiny fairways and greens present a tougher challenge for golfers, that is not always the case. The removal of trees makes for a more challenging feel due to the wind, which requires players to place their tee shot into the perfect position while avoiding fairway bunkers for the best angles possible into the greens.
The layout of the course is spectacular. It presents a unique challenge for golfers who need to take advantage of the course when opportunities arise because just as there are places that reward golfers, a miss-hit shot can also ruin any opportunities moving forward. While many pros are used to playing TPC and links style courses, Shinnecock stands alone in that it is unlike either of those. The greens are complex and fast and if golfers carry a ball too far they will see it roll off the edges with ease. The rough is not daunting, but the fescue can be a challenge for those who miss the fairway.
Shinnecock was also lengthened from the 6,996 yards in 2004 to 7,445 yards with the group – Coore and Crenshaw – who designed the new home of the Byron Nelson, Trinity Forest, helping with the new placement of the tee boxes. This should help combat the so-called distance problem that many complain about when they speak of golfers overpowering courses. Dustin Johnson may be leaving his driver in the bag on several holes and opting for a driving iron instead.
If you are a golf course fanatic, this will be a treat for you to watch as Shinnecock is one of the best courses in America.
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