BROOKLINE — The historic course at The Country Club has been twisted, finagled, and redesigned for this year’s U.S. Open in order to create a challenge that is befitting to today’s game.
The challenges of the current course construction are easily evident in the back-to-back behemoths at 14 and 15, the first of which is a par 5 that spans 619 yards from tee box to green, the latter of which is a 510-yard par 4. (The 499-yard, par-4 10th hole is no picnic, either.)
But perhaps the most interesting hole on the entire course may well be the shortest. And on some days, depending on the pin locations, it may rank among the hardest.
That hole would be the par-3 11th. This hole hasn’t been used in a U.S. Open since 1913, with organizers skipping it in the 1963 and 1988 Opens. Yet the short hole will be deceivingly challenging for golfers throughout the week.
That’s in part due to the expanded green, which will allow for some tantalizing pin locations that are certain to lure tee shots toward trouble.
That trouble could be found in one of the four greenside bunkers, the largest of which will penalize any shots that land short of the green. It could also come if any tee shots stray from the putting surface, as right and back sides of the green feature steep drops into thick rough. (The hole also has penalty areas short, back, and to the right of the hole, for any shots that really go astray.)
Landing on the green won’t result in too many easy birdie opportunities either, as the green features undulations — some subtle, some not so much — that is sure to leave some of the world’s best golfers a bit perplexed as they walk to the 12th tee box.
The U.S. Open is always about challenging the players, with holes where a par feels like a good score. At face value, a 131-yard par-3 may not fit that bill. In practice, it’s sure to be a bear.
“I love the addition of the short par-3,” Justin Thomas said Monday. “I think every golf course should have a short, little hole like that. And it’s got a diabolical green to where it’s — they can put some tough pins. You can make 2 and 4 in a heartbeat.”
With an elevated tee box and with the green just 131 yards away, golfers will be able to see everything on this hole before placing their tees in the ground. It may be among the shortest holes they’ll ever play, but the tricks on this particular par-3 won’t allow them to ever feel comfortable.