One of the intriguing aspects of having the world’s best players visit a new venue for a major championship is the unknown – what will the winning score be? What will be the hardest hole? What will be the most exciting hole? Does the course favor a certain type of player?
With the 2017 U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills just one year away, it is fun to ponder these questions and even tempting to write down your own answers, put them in a sealed envelope, and open it June 19, 2017 to see how right or wrong you were.
For example, how will the course’s shortest hole, the 9th, fare against the giants of the game? With a variety of tees ranging from 135 to 165 yards, complete exposure to the wind, a 26-foot drop in elevation, and some of the course’s most punishing bunkers surrounding the green, how will the 9th play? In the stroke play-portion of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship, the 9th was the sixth hardest hole, even though it measured just 135 yards for those two days.
One thing is certain about the 9th – it will be a fun, fascinating hole to watch. How well can the players flight their tee shots in that day’s wind? How much will the players guard against missing the green left or long? How will the players handle the variety of recovery shots around the green?
It is easy to imagine a two- or three-stroke swing on the 9th hole on Sunday that winds up being the turning point of the championship. Let’s see what happens!