Posted by: John K. Abendroth, PGA
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 4:16 PM
The 2012 U.S. Open is sure to be an exciting championship and if history is any example of what we will see this 5th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club should be amazing.
#1 Par-4, 515 yards: This opening hole will be played as a par-4 for the first time in championship history at The Olympic Club. The dog leg right with rolling fairway is an easy opening tee shot, but the downhill shot to the green will be a challenge. Two bunkers are about 40-yards short of the green and the uneven terrain in front of the green will create some excitement. This green is one of many with subtle undulations and breaks that will be fun to watch, but tough for the golfers.
#2 Par-4 428 yards: The prevailing wind from the right will help direct balls to the tough left side of this tight fairway. A slight fade off this tee should be the choice to avoid the left rough that has tree trouble as well. The second shot to this elevated green plays tough as the wind will hurt the shot and with two deep bunkers and a false front on the green to make this a great hole. The green is fast and sloped, watch for the first six holes to possibly be the toughest start in U.S. Open history.
#3 Par-3 247 yards: This beautiful par-3 with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge will be tough at 247 yards, a small entrance to the green and the unguarded prevailing wind off the ocean adds to the challenge. The green has a hump in the middle with the back side rolling away from you to a chipping area. Look for few birdies on this hole and the right green side bunker to get a lot of action.
#4 Par-4 438 yards: One of the toughest holes at Olympic, this dog leg left sees the fairway slope to the right. A wise player will draw a shot to stay in the fairway possibly with a fairway wood to leave a middle iron to the elevated green. Like number two, the 2nd shot will be affected by prevailing winds which will quarter into the player from the left. Front right is a tricky hole position for putting.
#5 Par-4 498 yards: This long par-4 will be the opposite of number four with a dog leg right and slope to the left. This tee shot calls for a fade off the tee with trees right and one key tree in the left edge of the fairway, that tree will be an attention getter in June for these players. The green has speed and slope to it, tough to get close if the hole location is front left or back right.
#6 Par-4 489 yards: Two new tees and the expanded fairway bunker here will make number 6 a tough hole t wrap up possibly the toughest start in U.S. Open history. The only true fairway bunker on the course will present a challenge as it will be 300 yards to carry. Like the approach bunkers on the course there is no rough on the tee side of the bunker to stop a ball from entry to the bunker. The green on number six has a false front where some balls may roll back 25-yards and similar to the previous hole, front left and back right are the tough locations.
#7 Par-4 288 yards: This short par-4 will be exciting to watch as some players will try to drive the green, but several bunkers and a severe two-level green will make it tough to get the ball close. The hole will play quite differently based on hole locations. Look for some wild putts and chips here.
#8 Par-3 200 yards: This is a brand new hole opened in the past two years that looks like it has been here for years. From 200 yards and slightly uphill, the long narrow green will make it tough to get the ball close. The beautiful Cypress trees and the deep bunkers are sure to get some action and the false front will challenge. The ampetheatre effect on the right wide will be a popular spot to watch this super golf hole. In a historic change, number eight will be a finishing hole for players starting on number nine and not number ten.
#9 Par-4 449 yards: A slight dog leg right framed by Cypress and Monterey Pine trees, this hole may seem safe, but the approach to the green and putting is where this hole will show its glory. There is a small hump just short of the green that can cause trouble and closely mown areas left and long will challenge a player to find these spots. The green has a lot of speed so staying below the hole is the advice here.
#10 Par-4 424 yards: Look for number 10 to yield birdies as the small flat green will be approached with short irons for most players. The tee-shot calls for a left to right shot and finding the fairway will help with the chances for birdie. For the front hole locations, players will want to consider a shot that will bounce up to the green.
#11 Par-4 430 yards: We now turn into the wind at number 11 which will have a slight dog leg left to right. Most players will have a short or middle iron to this two level green with tricky putts on the front hole locations or the back left. Prevailing winds can sneak up from the left.
#12 Par-4 451 yards: The tee shot comes from a tree lined chute here so the straight tee shot is a must. The very small green is more available from the right side of the fairway. From the side hill left side of the fairway, the small firm green you may see the closely mown area long and right. The two small deep bunkers are sure to see some action.
#13 Par-3 199 yards: Look for this tight par-3 to change the course of some good rounds. Trees line the approach to this long narrow green, a ball with a draw may bounce off the left fringe and may fine the hazard on the left. Two tough hole locations here are front center and back right, hit it high and soft to find success here.
#14 Par-4 419 yards: Possibly my favorite hole at Olympic, this dog leg left has seen the fairway moved left toward the trees and hazard by adjusting mowing patterns. The left side will have little rough to stop a draw from the tee so a cautious tee shot may be wise to leave a manageable approach of 145 yards. The green is small with deep bunkers. The false front could disappoint should a player get too cute with a front hole location. Look for a few long drives into the alley short of the green at 80 yards, but it may not be worth the risk.
#15 Par-3 154 yards: The shortest par-3 here will yield birdies but the elevated green does not allow you to see the surface of the green. The prevailing wind and slight uphill tee show here can surprise a player when the ball comes up short. With subtle breaks, this green will yield birdies but look for some tough short putts.
#16 Par-5 670 yards: The longest hole in U.S. Open history here also features a chute and double dog leg to the left. This hole may present a difference in yardage of 140 yards if played from the very back tee to a tee much further forward. The only two par-5 holes at Olympic are back to back at 16 and 17, but this monster will be interesting at 670 and possibly reachable in two for the first time in the five U.S. Opens played here if played from the forward tees. The front right bunker and the slope off the back left will cause some stress for the players. The green may look easy, but is has plenty of speed especially on the front left.
#17 Par-5 522 yards: This short par-5 may be the hole that decides the 2012 U.S. Open. With this short tilted fairway it is key to find the best location right center for a chance to reach this green in two shots, but the big story here is the green complex and the surrounds.
The elevated green has you play into the wind and with a small area to land, balls may slide off the right and possibly end up near the several trees on the right or you may even find the 18th fairway. A bunker shot or chip shot from the left side to a right side hole location may find the 18th fairway as well. Look for this green to have plenty of discussion and some concern.
#18 Par-4 344 yards: This iconic short par-4 has heaps of history with more sorrow than success in the 60-years of championships on this golf hole. The narrow fairway and narrow green call for the shot maker to find the left center of the fairway and then calculate his distance just right. The elevated green and swirling winds can cause havoc. Keep it short of the hole location if you can the green has caused great players to stumble and you will not be along as the hillside left and long will have about 5000 fans as witness.
John K. Abendroth is a PGA Member, Former PGA-Tour player and is a 45-year Olympic Club member, 4-time club champion, Member of their Hall of Fame and holder of the non-competitive record of “62” on the Lake Course at the Olympic Club. John is co-host of Hooked on Golf at KNBR radio and www.hookedongolf.com.