Hazeltine - The Course
Post by Golf Writer Derek Clements
WHEN Tony Jacklin won the US Open at Hazeltine in 1970, Dave Hill announced that the course was fit only for grazing cows on. Well, he would, wouldn't he? He had just finished second, seven shots behind Jacklin.
In truth, though, Hill wasn't the only one who made disparaging comments about the course in Minnesota, and it was many years before it would stage another major championship. Hazeltine was designed by Robert Trent Jones and opened in 1964. After Jacklin's US Open win, it was subjected to some serious renovations and staged the US Senior Open in 1983.
The changes were well received, but further work was carried out before, in 1991, the US Open returned and was won by Payne Stewart. It also hosted the US PGA championship in 2002 (won by Rich Beem) and again in 2009, when YE Yang famously beat Tiger Woods. Hazeltine holds a special place in the heart of Richie Ramsay, of Scotland - it here that the Scot won the US Amateur championship in 2006.
When Jacklin won the US Open, it measured 7.151 yards - it has now been extended to a monstrous 7,768 yards. And anybody who thinks they are going to have an easy time of it during the Ryder Cup had better think again. This is a golf course that will punish wayward driving and that demands pinpoint accuracy from approach shots - anything less will find water, deep bunkers or thick rough.
There are three par fives that measure sin excess of 600 yards, with the longest of the lot being the sixth at 642 yards - don't be surprised to see Dustin Johnson reach it with a drive and a long iron. There is only one par four of less than 400 yards, the fifth, which measures 354 yards - but the fairway is narrow, the bunkers are well placed and the green is small and narrow. And the 12th, another par four, is "only" 518 yards long, with a lake to the right.
Course conditions ???? pic.twitter.com/PavaAOetHL— Ryder Cup Team EUR (@RyderCupEurope) September 20, 2016
The players will not get any respite on the par threes either - the fourth is 210 yards while the 13th is a brute at 248 yards. The 17th may only be 176 yards long but it is protected by a huge lake that cuts into the front of the green, and by three bunkers to the rear.
Water also comes into play at the 405-yard 15th. The hole is a gentle dogleg to the left and a lake guards the front of the green, with bunkers to the rear. And there is more water on the 572-yard 16th - first, players have to negotiate the two well-placed bunkers to the left of a narrow fairway, before going for the green with a shot that needs to clear a lake and avoid three more greenside bunkers.
Hazeltine has supposedly been set up to favour the Americans, but it is difficult to know how you could ever set up a golf course to favour 12 golfers of one nationality over a group of 12 other players who ply their trade all over the world. Darren Clarke will emphasise to his team the need to keep the ball long and straight from the tee - and to putt well on what will be lightning fast greens.
The Ryder Cup is unlike any other tournament in golf and the atmosphere is something that every golf fan should experience. The experts at Golfbreaks.com can help with all aspects of your Ryder Cup experience, from accommodation and ticket packages to hospitality and travel and playing some of the fantastic nearby courses.
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