2011 U.S. Open: Congressional, hole-by-hole


The 10th Hole of the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club as seen on Thursday, May 20, 2010 in Bethesda, Md.

The 10th Hole of the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club as seen on Thursday, May 20, 2010 in Bethesda, Md.

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BETHESDA, Md. — A hole-by-hole look at the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club, site of the 111th U.S. Open to be played June 16-19:

No. 1, 402 yards, par 4: This gentle start to the U.S. Open — provided players start on No. 1 instead of No. 10, is a slight dogleg to the left that requires only a fairway metal or long iron off the tee. Bunkers guard the right side of fairway. The approach is a short iron to a green that is large by Congressional standards and protected by bunkers at the front and back right. This might be one of the best birdie opportunities among par 4s.

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No. 2, 233 yards, par 3: If length alone isn't enough to make this the hardest par 3 on the course, it is slightly uphill and can be tough to gauge the distance. It will be a long iron for most, a hybrid for others, to a green that is better suited for a shorter hole. The green is protected by six bunkers and features a ridge through the center that slopes from back left to front right.

•••

No. 3, 466 yards, par 4: A new tee for the U.S. Open adds only 10 yards but changes the angle, creating a slight dogleg to the left. The fairway has been shifted to the right to bring the bunkers into play off the tee. A middle iron will be required into a green that is slightly elevated and flanked by two bunkers on the left and a pair of pot bunkers on the right. The green slopes from back to front, meaning anything long will make it more difficult to save par.

•••

No. 4, 470 yards, par 4: This hole will be 40 yards longer than it was for the 1997 U.S. Open, and the tee has been shifted to the left to create a sharper dogleg. Once in play, the approach is a middle iron to a green that slopes severely from the back to the front, with bunkers gobbling up just about anything that comes up short.

•••

No. 5, 413 yards, par 4: The hole features a sharp bend to the left, with most players opting for a long iron or fairway metal off the tee. Three bunkers are at the corner of the dog leg. From there, it should be a short iron into a green that is protected by a long bunker on the left side of the green and a smaller bunker guarding the front of the green.

•••

No. 6, 555 yards, par 5: This is an example of the new era of U.S. Open under course guru Mike Davis. The hole played as a par 4 in the 1997 and 1964 U.S. Open, but it will play as a par 5, as it does for the members. Everyone should be able to reach the green in two, although it brings in trouble for the slightest miss. Water comes into play short of the green, but anything long makes it extremely difficult to get up-and-down. The green is bisected by a swale. The front right pin could be the most dangerous because of the water.

•••

No. 7, 173 yards, par 3: This plays uphill to a two-tiered green, guarded by deep bunkers in the front. The green is difficult enough, missing in any direction makes for a difficult par save. Regardless of which tier the hole is located in, staying below the cup is important on a putting surface with a pronounced pitch from back to front.

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No. 8, 354 yards, par 4: Another easy birdie opportunity, only this one might tempt the longer hitters to drive the green depending on the tees and hole location. Most players will opt for a shorter club into an area short of the green that leaves a lob wedge. The fairway slopes from left to right, and the green slopes severely from back left to front right. Anything long and left is about the only thing that will make par difficult.

•••

No. 9, 636 yards, par 5: The longest hole at the U.S. Open since the 12th hole at Oakmont in 2007. This is 30 yards longer than the 1997 U.S. Open a true three-shot hole, especially with a deep ravine just in front of the green. The tee shot should avoid bunkers, but otherwise this hole comes down to a wedge on the third shot to a green that has prominent ridges and will put the emphasis on getting it on the right level. Expect the USGA to move the tees up one round to tempt players to go for the green in two.

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No. 10, 218 yards, par 3: A new hole meant to replace the 18th hole from the 1997 U.S. Open. It goes in the opposite direction as the previous par 3, and is far more daunting, especially for those who start their round at this hole on Thursday or Friday. Any shot short of the green most likely will find the water. Anything long might catch a bunker, and at best leave a difficult pitch back to the green that slopes toward the water.

•••

No. 11, 494 yards, par 4: Much like Baltusrol for the 2005 PGA Championship, the start of the back nine is much tougher than the start of the front nine, and those teeing off on the back better bring their best. After a scary par 3 comes what might be the toughest par 4 at Congressional. The fairway has been shifted to the right closer to the stream. The closer to the stream, the better the angle to a narrow green, with a pond on the right side. Expect to see several safe shots to the left, which leads to a tough up-and-down.

•••

No. 12, 471 yards, par 4: The hole has been stretched so much — 55 yards longer — that the tee is the front tee of the 15th hole. Driver is the only play on this hole, unless the USGA moves to the shorter tee to give players a chance to draw it around the corner of this dogleg left. The bunker on the outside corner is in play for most tee shots. The approach is a middle iron to a slightly downhill green protected by bunkers on every side.

•••

No. 13, 193 yards, par 3: A relatively straightforward par 3 that plays slightly uphill to a heart-shaped green that has three distinct sections. The green pitches severely to the front, and with a front-center hole location, anything above the hole will force a defensive putt with hopes of taking par.

•••

No. 14, 467 yards, par 4: The fairway tightens as it gets closer to the green, so don't be surprised to see most players opt for a fairway metal off the tee to keep it in the short grass. The approach is to an elevated green, and one of the toughest on the course. The green has several contours and slopes sharply from back to front.

•••

No. 15, 490 yards, par 4: This hole is 50 yards longer for this U.S. Open, and with a bend to the left, it will be another tough par coming at a critical juncture of the championship. The tee shot should avoid four bunkers on the right side of the fairway. The approach is to an elevated green that slopes from the back left to the front right. Three bunkers guard the front and right of the green, and there is a premium on getting the distance just right.

•••

No. 16, 597 yards, par 5: The yardage is the same as it was in 1997, although the fairway bunkers have been moved farther into the landing area to allow for how much farther players are hitting the ball. Big hitters who keep it in the fairway will have a chance to reach the green in two, but anything that misses the green will roll down the hill to closely mown chipping areas. Scores here could very well range from 3 to 6 or worse.

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No. 17, 437 yards, par 4: This might be considered a slight reprieve before the finish. The tee shot likely will be a fairway metal to avoid going down the hillside at the end of the fairway. The undulating green features pronounced ridges, and anything on the wrong side of the green will be a difficult two-putt. But a couple of well-executed shots should lead to a reasonable birdie chance.

•••

No. 18, 523 yards, par 4: This hole is 20 yards shorter than the closing hole last year at Pebble Beach, only that was a par 5. Players who need par on the final hole to win the U.S. Open will have earned it. The tee shot should be down the right side to take advantage of the right-to-left slope in the fairway. The approach likely will be from a downhill, sidehill lie to a peninsula green that angles from right to left. If that's not enough, the green is bisected and could lead to tough two-putts when on the wrong side of the green.

•••

2011 U.S. Open: About Congressional

Congressional's makeover: Brad Klein says updates to Blue Course are a good fit for U.S. Open.

Inside Congressional: From 36 holes of great golf to the clubhouse, an inside look.

Congressional, hole-by-hole: A breakdown of the layout.

Quick facts: Details and things you need to know about Congressional.

Photos: A look at Congressional, in pictures

•••

2011 U.S. Open: Tournament preview

The full field: See who made the U.S. Open and how they did it.

Tee times and early-round pairings: World's top three players will play together

2011 U.S. Open preview: Tom Lehman's pain relief

Epic battle of 1931: George Von Elm and Billy Burke went 72 holes in a playoff that redefined our national championship.

Defining victory: Ken Venturi was down-and-out heading into the 1964 Open. His unlikely victory turned it all around.

Celebrating anniversaries: Revisiting memorable U.S. Open moments that celebrate an anniversary this year.

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