Shinnecock has troubling rough, persistent wind
Shinnecock Hills is 40 feet above sea level.
Where are the hills? Where are the trees?
Search as this week’s U.S. Open golfers might, they won’t find many hills or trees that will hide the green when they hit an errant shot.
Without any effort, they will find and be facing a constant 10-to-18 mile per hour wind and long, iron-twisting sea grass decorating the dry roughs.
The Open course has little water to swallow shots, but there are going to be a number of 7s and even an 8 or two by some flummoxed golfer.
Par can be a serviceable score on some days, and anybody firing a 66 or better in an early round will be miles ahead of the pack. Par is 70. The course is only 6,821 yards in length, and there only two par 5s.
This will be Shinnecock’s fifth U.S. Open at the Long Island, New York, course. Built in 1892, the 18 holes are on the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s a links-style course with luxurious grass fluffing the fairways and undulating greens for the most part, but the rough is dry and holds unfamiliar lies for any wayward shot.
Usually long hitters like Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth have a distinct advantage on today’s 7,500-yard layouts, but at Shinnecock the ones in the fairway the most often off the tee can win. Hit it straight and look great. Hit it long and crooked, find an early flight and book it.
The PGA has made some fancy opening day pairings. For example, at 1:47 p.m. on the first and 10th tees, the likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods will be beginning their rounds.
At 8:02 a.m., Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger will be getting underway on those same two tees.
The last Open held at Shinnecock was in 2004, and the course has been purposely lengthened. The powers-that-be know the wind can decide the complexion of the event, and any rain can soften the fairways and greens and bring lower scores to the four days of much-watched golf.
This is the second Major of the golf season, with the British Open coming in July and the PGA just later in August.
The PGA overseers are always ready to spotlight the country’s most historical courses. And Shinnecock Hills on Long Island is just such a course, with a history of allowing women to be club members since its founding in 1891.
Wind and less-than-gentle rough. Watch some scores rocket upward. Watch anybody scoring in the high 60s on all four days either win or be close with that kind of consistency on this year’s scary course.