JON CAVALIER’S LINKSGEMS 2018 U.S. OPEN PREVIEW
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
The rich tradition of championship golf at Shinnecock Hills continues this summer. The collaboration between Superintendent Jon Jennings and Coore & Crenshaw has brought out every ounce of the brilliance of William Flynn’s Long Island masterpiece. Shinny is ready to test the best.
Once again, Jon Cavalier has provided us with a hole-by-hole preview featuring his stellar photography and commentary. My course doodle has been included for your reference, and additional resources are at the end for an even deeper dive. Enjoy!
SHINNECOCK HILLS GOLF CLUB
(click on image mosaics to enlarge)
No. 1 – 399yds – Par-4
A relatively easy dogleg right with an ample landing area to open, and certainly one of the better birdie opportunities on the course. However, long is serious trouble – bogey or worse lurks behind this green.
No. 2 – 252yds – Par-3
A new back tee installed for the 2018 Open stretches this monster uphill par-3 to over 250 yards to a green guarded by bunkers on both sides and a false front. Make par here and you’ll gain on the field for sure.
No. 3 – 500yds – Par-4
This par-4 has been lengthened via a new back tee and narrowed from the left side, bringing the bunkers on the right very much into play. The open green slopes mostly back-to-front but abruptly falls away behind.
No. 4 – 475yds – Par-4
“Pump House,” so named for the outbuildings the hole doglegs around, has seen its fairway tightened up. Its real challenge is the undulating green, which features a false front and falls away on all sides.
No. 5 – 589yds – Par-5
“Montauk” is the first three-shotter of the round, but rest assured, many will be going for this green in two despite the narrow fairway and the large bunker guarding the dogleg. Distance control is key, as once again, long is dead.
No. 6 – 491yds – Par-4
“Pond” features the only water on the course, a retention pond unlikely to see a single ball this week, and a scruffy waste area right of the fairway that will. The green is among the toughest at Shinny.
No. 7 – 189yds – Par-3
This Redan, built in 1931 by William Flynn on the site of C.B. Macdonald’s original, is a hole as intimidating as it is beautiful. Playing at a more oblique angle and with a smaller opening than most makes this tilted green incredibly difficult to hit, hold, chip to and putt. Any misses to the right will be lucky to save bogey. In 2004, Kevin Stadler putted from 2-feet into a bunker. Buckle up.
No. 8 – 439yds – Par-4
“Lowlands” is likely the flattest hole at Shinny, and at “only” 439 yards, players will be looking for birdie here before the brutal 9-10-11 stretch. Beware the green though, which is among the most undulating on the course.
No. 9 – 485yds – Par-4
“Ben Nevis,” named for the highest mountain in the UK, is one of the world’s greatest uphill par-4s, and the start of the heart of this golf course. A dogleg left at the clubhouse to a heaving fairway, and then up to a green seemingly perched on the edge of a cliff, mere paces from the steps leading in to Stanford White’s iconic shingle-style clubhouse.Par is a good score on this breathtaking hole.
No. 10 – 415yds – Par-4
The aptly named “Westward Ho” plays to a fairway cut through a dune hiding a precipitous drop, a left turn and a green with 50 yards of false front. Short is dead, long is deader; better be dialed in on distance.
No. 11 – 159yds – Par-3
The 11th at Shinnecock has been called many things: Hill Head (its official name), the shortest par-5 in golf, and the best uphill par-3 in the world, among others. What it has never been called, is easy. The green sits atop a small dune ridge exposed to the wind and falls off to all sides. Standing on the tee, the landing area looks impossibly small. A hole that could determine the Open winner.
No. 12 – 469 – Par-4
After surviving the crucible at 9-10-11, players will be looking for birdie at this downwind, downhill par-4. Playing across Tuckahoe Road, the approach is slightly uphill to an open green. Look for big drives here.
No. 13 – 374yds – Par-4
“Road Side” once again changes direction and plays back over Tuckahoe Road toward the clubhouse. The shortest non-par-3 on the course, the 13th is a prime candidate to be shortened to a drivable par-4.
No. 14 – 519yds – Par-4
One of my favorite holes, “Thom’s Elbow” has been lengthened by a whopping 75 yards, turning this well-bunkered two-shotter into a monster that should require driver off the tee from the entire field. The saddle-shaped green at the 14th is more receptive than most, and will direct balls from its flanks to the middle. Shots hit too firmly will scoot through and will leave a difficult up-and-down.
No. 15 – 409yds – Par-4
The 15th is one of the most beautiful holes in golf, its tee set high on the glacial moraine that serves as the backbone of this astonishing golf course. Finding the fairway is critical, as the green is small, sloped and well-guarded by six terraced bunkers in front (one of the few greens fronted by bunkers at Shinnecock). Simply put, this is just a breathtakingly beautiful golf hole.
No. 16 – 616yds – Par-5
Shinnecock, the eponymous 16th, begins our home stretch. The second of Shinny’s two par-5s, this hole has a new tee which adds 76 yards in length, but downwind, players can still have a go at this green. As with so many holes at Shinnecock, the defenses of this hole are found around and on the green. Five bunkers guard the layup zone and ten more guard the green. Most players will happily take par here.
No. 17 – 180yds – Par-3
A devilishly tricky one-shotter frequently buffeted by confounding crosswinds and featuring a pushed up green with no background to help with judging distance, the 17th may well determine this week’s winner.
No. 18 – 485yds – Par-4
A new tee 35 yards back brings the bunker at the dogleg back into play, but Home is all about the approach and the wickedly sloped green, which will return anything indifferent 20 yards back into the fairway.
And there you have it – all 18 holes at one of America’s very best championship venues, an iconic piece of golden age architecture. Hope you enjoyed the tour, and that you enjoy the 118th United States Open!
MORE ON SHINNECOCK HILLS
- Read Part I of Andy Johnson’s “Skinny on Shinny” series on The Fried Egg here
- Read Part II of Andy Johnson’s “Skinny on Shinny” series on The Fried Egg Here
- Read Benjamin Litman’s 2015 deep dive into Shinnecock on GolfClubAtlas here
- See Scott Giffith’s aerial analysis of Shinnecock’s from The Bottom Groove here
- Watch Matt Ginella’s piece on Superintendent Jon Jennings’s team on Golf Channel here
- Read Guy Yocom’s story of the USGA’s set up on Shinnecock from Golf Digest here
- Read Adam Schupak’s U.S. Open Preview from Links Magazine here
- Watch Geoff Shackelford’s piece on the 2004 Open on Golf Channel here
- Read Ron Whitten’s history and analysis of the par-3 7th Redan from Golf Digest here
- Read Andy Johnson’s profile of the William Flynn on The Fried Egg here
- Read Ian Critser’s Shinnecock visit recap from Links Magazine here
- Hear Mike Davis from the USGA on the No Laying Up Podcast here
MORE LINKSGEMS TOURS
- Bandon Preserve
- Bandon Trails
- Boston Golf Club
- Eastward Ho!
- Fishers Island
- Garden City
- Myopia Hunt Club
- Old Macdonald
- Old Sandwich
- Old Town
- Pacific Dunes
- Sleepy Hollow
- Somerset Hills
- Whippoorwill Club
Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf