The tournament is organised by the United States Golf Association (USGA) in mid-June and scheduled so that the final round is played on the third Sunday, which is Father’s Day.
From a course difficulty perspective, the US Open Championship is traditionally the hardest of the four Majors to win.
The tournament is staged at a variety of courses and set up in such a way that scoring is difficult. US Open courses are typically characterised by low scoring, are long, have a high cut of primary rough, undulating greens and tight fairways.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club was founded in 1891 and was one of the five founding member clubs of the USGA. The original twelve-hole golf course was designed by Willie Davis and expanded to eighteen holes in 1895. It has long been recognized as one of the top courses of the world.
The original course design was remodelled twice by C.B. Macdonald and then replaced by William S. Flynn in the early 1930s. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw made several changes in 2012 in preparation for this year’s US Open. Substantial changes were made including the restoration of a waste area on the sixth hole and more significantly, the course was lengthened by 449 yards. This year’s US Open at Shinnecock will play as a 7,445 yard Par 70.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club has hosted the US Open four times (1896, 1986, 1995 & 2004) and is the only course to have held the tournament across three centuries. It is also scheduled to host again in 2026.
It was a similar story in 1995 when Corey Pavin was the only player not to shoot over par for the week. He finished on level par for the 4 rounds to win his one and only major title.
And then there was 2004.
The 2004 edition of the US Open Championship at Shinnecock will be remembered as one of the most difficult and controversial course setups in the tournament’s history. Retief Goosen just edged out Phil Mickelson by two strokes to win his second US Open in four years. Goosen and Mickelson were the only players to finish under par for the week.
Tiger Woods fired a +6 (76) in the final round to finish in a share of 17th place had this to say;
“This is not the way it’s supposed to be played. The way the golf course was set up was great for the first two days and yesterday was tough but today it just got away from them”
Some of the greens were baked to the point that they had to be watered during the final round. The Par 3 7th hole, “Redan Hole“, had to be watered with a light spray in between each group. Three of the first four golfers to play the hole ran up triple-bogey sixes with the rock hard green almost impossible to hold.
After his final round Mickelson said;
“I played some of the best golf of my life, and still couldn’t shoot par”
Sunday’s final-round scoring average was 78.7. Robert Allenby was the only player to shoot par (70).
Shinnecock is laid out utilising the natural topography of the Shinnecock Hills and resembles a number of links courses on the British Isles.
The course is practically treeless and the wind can blow in any direction. The continual movement of the routing makes the wind a ‘big’ factor. There is flexibility, depending on the day’s wind direction, to move tees forward or back. It is imperative to keep an eye on the weather as Mother Nature will no doubt have a role to play this week.
Shinnecock Hills is a course that tests every club in the bag. Good course management will be key this week, particularly if the wind gets up. Players will need to drive well and iron play on approach will need to be dialled-in to hit the relatively small well-guarded greens.
Those with aspirations of capturing the year’s second major will need to bring their ‘A-game’ for putting and scrambling. An ability to manoeuvre the ball in windy conditions is a definite plus.
Important factors this week will be good strategy, hitting the right parts of the green and avoid haemorrhaging shots to the field. Links form is definitely worth considering this week
Like with all Majors, it is worth holding back some wager money to have a bet in running after 36 or even 54 holes are completed.
US Open Betting Tips 2018