After a memorable US Open lastyear at Bethpage Black, LongIsland, the eyes of the professional golfworld will turn their attention westwardto a different course for this year'sevent. This summer, Olympia FieldsCountry Club in Olympia Fields, Ill, willhost the 103rd US Open Championship.The best golfers in the world will be playingon this midwestern golf course, whichfeatures "tradition with a modern face."
A CLASSIC COURSE
Many of the holes on the NorthCourse are unchanged from the originalWillie Park, Jr, design. The course hasbeen lengthened and the bunkers havebeen deepened, with steeper faces tokeep up with the skills and technologyof modern play. Despite these changes,however, Olympia Fields Country Clubstill has the look and feel of a golfcourse from the 1920s.
What should you expect to see onNBC-TV if you're not lucky enough toattend the event in person? The NorthCourse stretches some 7177 yards over atopographically diverse piece of realestate. The course has big elevationchanges, a meandering creek, and hundredsof native oak trees, all of whichwill provide a stern test for the best inthe business for 4 days when they gatherhere June 12 to 15.
THE HOLE STORY
Olympia Fields' course is unfamiliar tomost golfers (other than members ofOlympia Fields Country Club). It is typicalof past US Open courses, with narrowfairways and thick, rough, and undulatingfast greens. The tournament's realdrama will play out on the 5th, 12th,17th, and 18th holes. These 4 holes willmake this an exciting event for both spectatorsand viewers at home. Let's take acloser look at these holes.
Hole 5 (440 yards, par 4). This is thesignature hole on the front 9. The creekcrosses in front of the tee box about 125yards away, then takes a turn and formsthe right boundary of the hole. Threehundred yards from the tee, it takes asharp left and crosses the fairway again,only to take another right, ready to sinkany second shots that get pulled slightly.The elevated tee shot calls for a long ironor 3 wood, taking the creek out of play,to a narrow fairway, leaving an uphillshot over the creek to a midsize, elevatedgreen with a tremendous amount ofback-to-front slope. Two shots and 2putts will seem like a birdie here, but itonly earns you a par.
Hole 12 (458 yards, par 4). This is thesignature hole for this 9. It requires ablind tee shot over a hill to a narrow fairwaythat shifts to the left of the teeingarea. The tee shot must be hit left or theplayer will not have a shot into the small,elevated, and well-protected green. Mostplayers will have a mid-iron shot, whichwill be hard to keep on the green. Thishole should provide plenty of drama onthe putting green as well because theslope of the surface is one of the mostsevere on the golf course.
Hole 17 (247 yards, par 3). This teeshot is uphill and into the prevailingsouthwest wind. The green is well-protectedon its left and right, with big,deep bunkers. Most players will hit fairwaywoods into the center of the greenand hope to putt 2. The putting surfacehas numerous undulations, which willlead to many more 3-putts than 2-putts.
Hole 18 (462 yards, par 4). This isanother big par 4 played into the wind onmost days. The tee shot must split 2 fairwaybunkers, leaving a mid-to-long ironinto the huge, sloping green. The bestplay here is a drive between the 2 fairwaybunkers that lands short of the thirdbunker. The green itself is the most sinisteron the golf course, with tough-to-read,right-to-left, and back-to-front breaks.Even the best players in the world willputt 3 on this green from time to time.This hole will provide a memorable conclusionto 4 days of intense competition.
Adrian Davies is a former EuropeanTour player and Europeandirector of golf for DavidLeadbetter.He has been a PGAClass A professional for 19years and is affiliated with theLinks in Shirley, Long Island. He welcomesquestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.