Monday, June 13, 2011

Congressional By the Numbers; This Doesn't Look Like Fun

I watched the 18 flyover videos describing the holes of Congressional Country Club that is hosting the United States Open this week. The videos can be found by clicking here. The layout comes across as one that appears to severely punish players who look to use the ground game or are higher handicaps, leaving only the aerial route as the way onto greens.

Weather will dictate the hue of the turf and firmness of the golf course, but it will be interesting to see how far balls are rolling this year compared to last year's tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links since running shots onto the putting surfaces, other than the 18th, isn't a viable option.

To me, Congressional has the fetid appearance of the work of Robert Trent Jones. He redesigned Congressional in 1962 and 1969 . His son, Rees, renovated the layout twice, also, once for this tournament.

Here are some rather discomforting numbers:

• 14 green approaches are pinched near the putting surface making the run-up nearly impossible. Almost every green has bunkers that back into the approach landing area.

(For amateur players unfortunate enough to find the sand, this means bunker shots of 40 yards and more. The accompanying photo of the first hole has both a narrow opening to the green and bunkers set far away from the putting surface.)

• Two holes require forced carries to the green.

• Nine of the greens are sloped back to front, many of those severely.

• When it comes to fairway landing areas, nine are guarded by either sand or water on the right while three are guarded on the left.

• Two holes have pinched landing areas.

The best news about the U.S. Open being at Congressional is it might be the last time Rees Jones, who has the ill-fitting moniker of "The Open Doctor" for his work of preparing venues for the U.S. Open, gets to botch golf course surgery on a U.S. Open venue. According to John Garrity of, "...other designers have been hired to prepare seven of the next eight U.S. Open sites. The USGA has assigned its Open venues through 2019, with the exception of 2018, which means it's quite likely that the earliest Jones's services could be called upon again would be in 2020, when he'll be 78."

No comments:

Post a Comment