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A hole-by-hole look at The Olympic Club
Question of the Day
No. 1, 520 yards, par 4: What contributes to The Olympic Club having such a brutal start is changing the opening hole to a par 4 for the first time. The hole moves slightly to the right, and then drops down a slope toward the green. There is plenty of room to run the ball onto the green for those who can’t reach the green in two. The danger is the mowing down the rough left and long of the green, so any miss is likely to run into thick brush.
No. 2, 428 yards, par 4: Pay no attention to the yardage. This is another difficult hole, with a tight fairway beyond 270 yards that might force players to opt for 3-wood or hybrid off the tee. The approach is to an elevated green that is both shallow and severely sloped from back to front. An extra club is needed for the elevation change, yet anything long makes for a very difficult par.
No. 3, 247 yards, par 3: A new tee offers an incredible view of San Francisco, including the top of the Golden Gate bridge on a clear day. More daunting is the hole, which plays downhill to a relatively small green and is guarded by bunkers on both sides. The USGA also will use a forward tee from about 230 yards. Even from the tips, expect the players to be hitting a long to mid-iron because of the change in elevation.
No. 4, 438 yards, par 4: The shape of the tee shot is important. In classic Olympic fashion, the fairway bends sharply to the left, but the ground slopes to the right. The fairway narrows at 265 yards, leaving an uphill approach from a hanging lie to a difficult green that slopes severely from back left to front right. The green drops off sharply, with a collection area to the right.
No. 5, 498 yards, par 4: The opposite of No. 4, this hole bends to the right with the fairway sloping to the left. Large trees guard the right side of the tee shot. The difference is that the approach shot plays downhill, with help from a prevailing wind, and the green is relatively straightforward.
No. 6, 489 yards, par 4: A new tee means this will play some 50 yards longer than it did in 1998. This hole is unique in that it has the only fairway bunker on the course, but the new tee means players will need a 295-yard drive if they choose to carry it. Because players could clear the bunker at the turn of his slight dogleg left in 1998, they were left with a wedge. Expect to see longer clubs this time.
No. 7, 288 yards, par 3: The first hole that offers a realistic shot at birdie, and the one par 4 that can be reached from the tee. Players who hit iron off the tee will have a sand wedge to the green. Around the green, there is only 5- to 6-inch rough to increase the penalty for those trying to drive the green, which also is guarded by bunkers.
No. 8, 200 yards, par 4: This is a new hole and will play about 60 yards longer. The clubhouse is perched above the green, and a large hill to the right will provide a natural amphitheater. The green slopes from right to left and is set at an angle. Any shot veering too far left could catch a large cypress tree.
No. 9, 449 yards, par 4: With a two-tee start, half of the field will start on this par 4 that features typical Olympic traits. The fairway bends to the right, and the turf slopes strongly to the left toward Lake Merced. The green has bunkers on each side close to the front, and a closely mown area from the middle and back portions could present more problems for errant shots.
No. 10, 424 yards, par 4: The angle on this left-to-right hole has been enhanced by moving the fairway several yards to the right, making it more likely that a tee shot could run through the fairway. The second shot will be a short iron to a green that slopes from front to back.
No. 11, 430 yard, par 4: This fairway also was shifted, to the left, to create a sharper left-to-right dogleg. Players can smash a driver here, though that could lead to a hanging lie because of the slope in the fairway. The two-tiered green slopes from back to front.
No. 12, 451 yards, par 4: This will play 35 yards longer than in 1998, starting with a claustrophobic tee shot because of the chute of Monterey pine and cypress trees. The fairway has been shifted slightly to the left. The approach shot, again most likely featuring a hanging lie, is to a green with bunkers and a closely mown collection area.
No. 13, 199 yards, par 3: This will be a mid-iron for most players, but distance control is everything to this long green with bunkers coming into play for front hole locations. The change from 1998 is that the left of the green is now closely mown, so a miss could run all the way into a dry water hazard. Players should still be able to play a shot from the hazard if they wind up there.
No. 14, 419 yards, par 4: This is a severely elevated hole that bends hard to the left and his guarded by trees down the left side. This most likely will be a 3-wood or a hybrid off the tee, though driver would leave only a flip wedge to the green. Anything too far left will lead to a punch shot under the trees.
No. 15, 154 yards, par 3: The shortest par 3 at Olympic, this will be a 9-iron or wedge, but accuracy is paramount. Similar to the short par-4 seventh, there will be only the deep, 5- to 6-inch rough for those missing the green. Still, this is the best birdie opportunity of the par 3s.
No. 16, 670 yards, par 5: With a new tee that won’t be used every day, this becomes the longest hole in U.S. Open history. If length isn’t enough, it’s a sharp dogleg to the left and the fairway narrows right at 300 yards. The hole continues to bend to the left until the green, and shots that miss the green long or to the left will bounce even farther away because of the closely mown grass beyond the green.
No. 17, 522 yards, par 5: For the first time in a U.S. Open at Olympic, this will be a par 5 instead of a par 4. That doesn’t make the drive any easier, because the fairway slopes more severely (to the right) than any other hole. Players have to hit a hard draw to eliminate the roll to the right. Finding the fairway or first cut leaves a good chance to reach the green in two. The green slopes strongly from left to right and back to front, and any approach missing long or to the right will tumble down a collection area under the trees. One bad shot eliminates the ease of birdie.
No. 18, 344 yards, par 4: It’s not the toughest closing hole in a U.S. Open, but it’s the signature hole at Olympic, with the clubhouse on the horizon. This offers a birdie, but the tee shot (most likely a 3-iron) must find the narrow fairway. The approach is semi-blind because of the elevated green, and players will be able to see only the top half of the flagstick. The green slopes from back to front and is surrounded by thick rough.
By Michael P. Orsi
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