ERIN, Wis. – The U.S. Open awakens sadists who relish seeing the world’s best golfers suffer the game’s equivalent of a fender bender or Turn 3 crash.
Welcome ogres to your dream venue, Erin Hills!
Even after a few overnight thunderstorms, the site dubbed “Shinnecock on steroids” by the U.S. Golf Association’s Mike Davis still offers plenty of Shinnecockian opportunities for meltdowns. While the less-bloodthirsty will be parked at the risk-reward, par-4 second hole or the seventh green to soak up some par-5 shotmaking, course cannibals will be elsewhere.
Here is a totally unofficial guide for viewers and spectators who relish the outright humiliation that only a U.S. Open can deliver:
Par 4, 498 yards
After Monday night and Tuesday morning storms, this elevated terror of a putting surface won’t be as fiery. But even when holding shots, this an uphill, 498-yard, into-the-wind par 4. Originally this was a gentler punchbowl green, but the fourth is now a terror featuring a massive, 25-yard falloff to the rear that is sure to claim multiple victims. Oh, and there’s a greenside grandstand with sweeping property views, too. Misers rejoice!
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Par 3, 135 yards
There are reportedly four tournament hole locations on this 135-yard, par 3, though wise observers have not been able to locate them. The back right hole pins look unhittable from the tee. Throw in the possibility of seven elevated tees used this week from atop a hill once considered for the clubhouse and the hole would already be brutal. Toss in the elevated tee making wind even more of a factor in playing to this crazily contoured green, and this could be the ground zero of goofy. Massive grandstands are set up for your viewing pleasure, so expect to see balls to do plenty of rolling off a surface with very little flat space.
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Par 5, 594 yards
Billed as a reachable par 5 at 594 yards, and often into the wind, the fun starts at the course’s narrowest tee-shot landing area. Just 22 yards in one spot, with lost-ball rough dangerously close, expect plenty of layups off the tee and more second shot layups. This sets up an obstructed-view 100-yard wedge shot to a huge two-level green. Any ball spinning toward the front and right collars will roll down a massive hill. Caution: tantrums may be thrown, architects skewered and the USGA bludgeoned. Remember savages, no rooting for blood to be drawn.
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Par 5, 637 yards
At 637 yards, the Erin Hills finishing hole is surrounded by massive bleacher seating. The only thing missing will be tubs of popcorn for the horror show that will take place when the hole is downwind. To label the huge rear green fall-off and tightly-mown fairway a “chipping area” would ignore that a full swing recovery shot may be needed for those going long. If human suffering is your thing, pull up a bleacher seat and slap on some sunscreen. After all, the players facing this wacky finishing hole wouldn’t want you to get burned.