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The Winds of Change At Shinnecock Hills

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Two-hundred and seventy-six. That’s the number of strokes it took for Retief Goosen to secure his second U.S. Open Title in 2004, but the number of strokes is the last thing anyone would remember from that year’s toughest test in golf. Take this article from ESPN’s David Kraft and Peter Lawrence-Riddell summing up the final round of Goosen’s triumph:

“The seventh green at Shinnecock Hills was so hard to play for the first two groups Sunday morning that USGA officials decided to water it between every pairing for the final round of the U.S. Open.”

Just as with the 1974 “Massacre at Winged Foot,” the 2004 U.S. Open will forever be remembered as the day the USGA dropped the ball. The USGA claimed that the seventh had been “inadvertently rolled” on Saturday. Walter Driver, chairman of the USGA Championship Committee at the time, told reporters on Saturday, “I found out after play was completed today that, for some reason, a different person on the grounds staff rolled that green today despite the orders that we had given not to roll the green.” Even a typically mild-mannered Jerry Kelly had harsh words, according to the same ESPN piece, “They lied [Saturday],” said Jerry Kelly, who finished with an 81 after shooting 71 Saturday. “Talked to the superintendent. Superintendent said, ‘Hey, I’m not getting in the middle of this. They told me to roll it.’”

Whether the grounds crew was told to roll the seventh green or not, it gave up three triple bogies in the first two groups, so the USGA watered it between each group for the rest of the day. As the 2018 U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since that fateful day, the USGA looks to redeem itself this year. With some subtle changes, maybe they can.

In 2004, Shinnecock played 6,996 yards at par 70. In the past 14 years, there have been no major renovations to the course, but once the decision was made to bring the Open back to one of the founding clubs of the USGA, the American Governing body was determined to ensure Shinnecock was presented with its best foot forward. According to a Golfweek report from October of 2017, the following changes have been made to accommodate not only the tournament but the redemption of a reputation:

  • There are 17 new back tees that will stretch the course from the previous 6,996 yards to a total length of 7,445 yards.
  • The par-4 14th hole has been extended 76 yards and will now play 519 yards. The par-5 16th will now play 616 yards.
  • While the fairways will still be more generous than most U.S. Opens, they have been narrowed by Shinnecock’s standard. They will play between 28-32 yards on average.
  • The greens have not been recontoured, but on the greens with the “most severe contouring,” an extended collar of rough has been added between the edge of the greens and the greenside bunkers.

With the course is still expected to play at a par of 70, it will likely be a tougher test than 2017’s expose at Erin Hills, even if there is little wind. In 2004, all eyes were on the par-3 seventh on Sunday. From the time the first minute of Live From The U.S. Open airs on TV, all eyes will be on the same hole: 189 yards with a raised green that runs away from the players and to the right… but so much more.

As there always is with the U.S. Open, the course will be a character in the story more so than any other championship. Hale Irwin won his first of three majors (all U.S. Opens) at the “Massacre at Winged” with a score of seven over par, and 32 years after that championship Peter McCleery of ESPN was still writing about it. And with Shinnecock hosting the U.S. Open the year after Brooks Koepka swept the field with a 16-under par victory at a helpless Erin Hills, who knows what will happen as the horses are released from the gates on Sunday of this year’s U.S. Open?

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Adam Crawford is a writer of many topics but golf has always been at the forefront. An avid player and student of the game, Adam seeks to understand both the analytical side of the game as well as the human aspect - which he finds the most important. You can find his books at his website, chandlercrawford.com, or on Amazon.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Grande

    Jun 7, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    The USGA has turned our National Championship into a Mickey Mouse experience.

  2. Skip

    Jun 7, 2018 at 6:59 am

    There was a fairly major renovation in 2012 by Coore & Crenshaw, which by my calcuation was within the last 14 years…

  3. Terry

    Jun 6, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Sad that the USGA has bowed to these divas over the last decade. For one week a year, these guys should battle themselves and a brutal course to be declared our National champion

    • Reggie

      Jun 7, 2018 at 9:21 am

      Yippee! I won because I missed the most greens in all the right places! Thank you USGA!

      • James T

        Jun 7, 2018 at 1:26 pm

        Reggie, you just described the strategic side of golf.

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Hidden Gem of the Day: Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem was submitted by GolfWRX member CVC (with a +1 from sabram), and it’s called Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City. Here’s why it was submitted, according to CVC:

“This A.W. Tillinghast design sits on hills in the middle of Swope Park in Kansas City. A municipal course managed by Orion Management Systems, it offers amazing view of the Kansas City skyline, typical Tillinghast guarded greens that reward good shots by funneling the ball toward the hole. Opened in 1935, it features mature trees and elevation changes that make it a pleasure to play.”

According to the Swope Memorial website, prices range from $17 during Twilight hours, to $50 during peak hours on the weekends.

Check out more photos of the course below (provided by GolfWRX user sabram), and click here to enter your favorite local hidden gem!

Click here to enter your favorite local hidden gem!

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Hidden Gem of the Day: Sand Creek Station in Newton, Kansas

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem is called Sand Creek Station located in Newton, Kansas, and it was submitted by GolfWRX Member grandslambound. Here’s why the course was submitted…

“This place is pure. Host of the 2014 U.S. Pub Links Championship, and last years NJCAA Jayhawk conference championship. Played it a couple weeks ago for $28 bucks with a cart and 2 drink tickets. It is a big 7359 from the tips and the wind is always whipping. The 10th hole is with out a doubt the signature hole, a 640 yard par 5 with water left and OB right on the tee shot and the water right and OB left on any lay-up or approach. This hole is so cocky they give you a free tee shirt if you birdie it. (Doug Ghim eagled it in the 2014 US Pub Links final round) It includes many great architecture elements including a redan green on the par 5 4th. Not to mention how great of condition it was in when I played it as well. This place is a steal.”

He’s not kidding. According to Sand Creek Station’s website, the course ranges from $24 to $49, and those prices include cart and range balls.

Check out more photos of the course below, and if you have a Hidden Gem (under $50) you think belongs on our list, submit it here!

Submit your favorite local course under $50 here!

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Hidden Gem of the Day: Cedar Crest, home of the 1927 PGA Championship

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s hidden gem, submitted by GolfWRX Member Simp, is called Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas, Texas. If you’re a golf historian, you may recognize the course (formerly known as Cedar Crest Country Club) as the host of the 1927 PGA Championship. That was back when the PGA Championship was a match play event, and in the 1927 competition, Walter Hagen defeated Joe Turnesa 1up.

Today, according to Cedar Crest’s website, rates range from $13 to $48 dollars depending on time of day and the season, which has to make it one of the most affordable major championship venues to play in the world.

Check out more photos of the course, submitted by GolfWRX Member Simp, below, And if you have a Hidden Gem (under $50) you want to submit, click here.

Submit your favorite local Hidden Gem here.

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