- - Monday, June 13, 2011

With the world’s best players set to take on Congressional’s Blue Course during this week’s U.S. Open, The Washington Times’ Dan Daly sat down with club pro John Lyberger for a hole-by-hole look at how the course should play. It’s a par 71 that will measure from 7,200 to 7,300 yards, depending on where USGA executive director Mike Davis puts the pins and tees. The front side is more forgiving than the back, Lyberger says, “so if you can pick up some birdies there and play the back nine level par, you’re doing all right.”

Click here for a hole-by-hole breakdown of the course (PDF)


1 (402 yards, par 4) — One of the most benign opening holes you’ll ever see in the Open. If you’ve got some jitters — and how many players don’t? — No. 1 should calm them a bit, especially since a driver may not be necessary. Bunkers pinch the front of the green from either side, but there are no major complications.

Lyberger: “A great hole to make a birdie on. If you hit the fairway and get your ball far enough down there, you should have a 100-yard shot to the green. These guys are so good with their short irons and wedges that they should be able to stick it in pretty close. Worse case, you’ll make par.”

2 (233 yards, par 3) — OK, the party’s over. Now you’re dealing with the longest par 3 on the course, with bunkers that once again squeeze the green. In 1997, Ben Crenshaw used his driver here all four rounds.

Lyberger: “It’s uphill. And with a little wind in your face, it’s probably going to play [like it’s] 255 to 260 to the hole. If you can fly it 240, 245 to that opening up front, it’s going to leave you with a ball that’s going to roll out to that back hole location.”

3 (466 yards, par 4) — A new tee box has turned this hole into a slight right-to-left dogleg. From the fairway, you’re hitting uphill to the green.

Lyberger: “All the new tee boxes are slightly off-center, so the days of just banging it out there and hitting the ball as far as you can are gone. The players are forced to shape their shots.”

4 (470 yards, par 4) — Another new tee box makes this hole 40 yards longer than it was in 1997. Also, the fairway has been moved farther left to create more of a dogleg.

Lyberger: “You really want to hit your approach to the right level of the green [top or bottom, depending on where the pin is]. A ridge runs through it, and it’s difficult to transition from one area to another in terms of putting. If you hit over the green to the [shaved] collection area, it’s a really hard shot. You can’t get any spin on the ball, and the green slopes away from you.”

5 (413 yards, par 4) — Another birdie opportunity that, like No. 1, probably won’t require a driver. But a player will need to hit a draw to take advantage of this hole — and if he bends his ball too much, it could end up in one of the bunkers to the left.

Lyberger: “The green has a lot of undulation and is sloped from left to right. Hitting your approach too far right will likely put you in the collection area.”

6 (555 yards, par 5) — In ‘97, this was a wicked par 4. But with some added length, it’s been transformed into a par 5 that’s reachable in two. The green is guarded by water on the right, though, so there’s potential trouble.

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