US Open: All you need to know about Shinnecock Hills

From the carnage of 2004 to its historic native Indian roots, this strip of Long Island is a storied place

A view of the US Open trophy on the 18th hole at Shinnecock Hills where the 104th US Open will be played next week. Photo: Getty Images

A view of the US Open trophy on the 18th hole at Shinnecock Hills where the 104th US Open will be played next week. Photo: Getty Images


What’s so special about Shinnecock Hills?

It is steeped in American golfing history. The club is one of five founding members of the United States Golf Association, who run the US Open. It opened in 1891 and has played host to four previous championships: 1896 (won by James Foulis), 1986 (Ray Floyd), 1995 (Corey Pavin) and 2004 (Retief Goosen).

Oh yeah, that 2004 championship was more like crazy golf at Pirate’s Cove, wasn’t it?

You might say that the USGA lost control of the course setup for the final round, especially on the seventh green. The course difficulty was already close to the edge before the final day but a decision was made to roll the greens on Saturday night, to deprive them of water and those actions, combined with an unusual dry north-westerly wind rather than the prevailing south-easterlies off the Atlantic, put several greens over the edge.

What happened on the Par 3 seventh hole?

Players described it as carnage, particularly the early-starters who must have felt they were thrown to the wolves. The first pairing of JJ Henry and Kevin Stadler both made triple bogeys; and Billy Mayfair, in the second pairing out, putted into a bunker. The alarm bell started to ring and the USGA instigated hand-watering of greens thereafter between groups, just to allow play to continue. It was the first and only time in the US Open’s history that such an operation was necessary, albeit too far for those pairings who had already played the hole.

Can we expect a repeat this time?

No chance, the USGA have moved away from their obsession of having courses that play firm and fast and they won’t want any repetition of that 2004 championship which was invariably referred to as “carnage” or “disaster” by players who ran up high scores.

But has the course changed much since then?

Quite a lot, actually. The most dramatic change has been to increase the yardage from 6,996 in 2004 to 7,445 yards (Par 70) this time while numerous trees and bushes have been removed to create an airier feel. Also, the fairways have been widened quite considerably – although not as wide as originally envisaged after the wind failed to blow at both Chambers Bay and Erin Hills in two of the past three championships – and will make for more generous landing areas than when Goosen won. The average width of fairways in 2004 was 26.6 yards (the narrowest was 25 yards, the widest 30 yards) whereas this year’s championship will be played on fairways averaging 41.6 yards, a full 50 percent wider.

What’s with the Indian head-dress logo?

The land on this neck of Long Island has a deep heritage with the Shinnecock Indian Nation tribe, as does the golf course. Members of the tribe – employed as day labourers – helped build the course in the 1890s. In fact, the relationship between the USGA and the tribe dates back to 1896 when the second US Open was held on the links. For generations, the Shinnecock worked at the golf club as groundskeepers and caddies.

So, guess Goosen is back to have another crack at winning at Shinnecock Hills?

No, he won’t be in the field. The South African’s 10-year exemption for winning in 2004 is up and he failed to get a special invitation from the USGA. But there will be considerable interest in how Phil Mickelson, the player who finished runner-up to Goosen 14 years ago, gets on: this is the only Major championship Lefty has yet to win, so victory would enable him to join the elite club of modern Grand Slam winners that currently only numbers five men (Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen). Mickelson has had six runner-up finishes in the US Open through his career without managing to get the missing link to the jigsaw.

And Tiger Woods ?

Woods is on the prowl again, having recovered from spinal fusion surgery . Woods – who has 14 career Major titles to his name – was unable to play in the US Open since 2015 when he missed the cut. He has played nine tournaments on the PGA Tour so far this season with two top-10 finishes, the best a runner-up finish in the Valspar Championship.

How many Irish players are in the field?

Three of them at the moment with Séamus Power among those on the reserve list. Shane Lowry earned joint-medallist honours in the qualifying during the week in Ohio to join Rory McIlroy and Grame McDowell, who were already exempt as former champions.

What are the tee times?

Thursday, No. 1 tee / Friday, No. 10 tee (all times Irish)

11:45 a.m. / 5:30 p.m. – Harold Varner, TBD, Matthieu Pavon

11:56 a.m. / 5:41 p.m. – Michael Putnam, Scott Gregory, Will Zalatoris

12:07 p.m. / 5:52 p.m. – Brendan Steele, Chesson Hadley, (a) Harry Ellis

12:18 p.m. / 6:03 p.m. – Jhonattan Vegas, Dylan Frittelli, (a) Doug Ghim

12:29 p.m. / 6:14 p.m. – Louis Oosthuizen, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose

12:40 p.m. / 6:25 p.m. – Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka

12:51 p.m. / 6:36 p.m. – Tyrrell Hatton Danny Willett, Ian Poulter

1:02 p.m. / 6:47 p.m. – Kevin Chappell, Andrew Johnston, Daniel Berger

1:13 p.m. / 6:58 p.m. – Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matt Kuchar

1:24 p.m. / 7:09 p.m. – Thorbjorn Olesen, Shubhankar Sharma, Patrick Rodgers

1:35 p.m. / 7:20 p.m. – Lanto Griffin, Tom Lewis, (a) Jacob Bergeron

1:46 p.m. / 7:31 p.m. – (a) Kristoffer Reitan, (a) Luis Gagne, Cole Miller

1:57 p.m. / 7:42 p.m. – Mickey DeMorat, (a) Tyler Strafaci, Calum Hill

Thursday, No. 10 tee / Friday, No. 1 tee

11:45 a.m. / 5:30 p.m. – Scott Stallings, Sebastian Munoz, Matthew Southgate

11:56 a.m. / 5:41 p.m. – Trey Mullinax, (a) Matt Parziale, Jason Scrivener

12:07 p.m. / 5:52 p.m. – David Bransdon, Eric Axley, Tyler Duncan

12:18 p.m. / 6:03 p.m. – (a) Garrett Rank, Mackenzie Hughes, Aaron Baddeley

12:29 p.m. / 6:14 p.m. – Alexander Levy, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay

12:40 p.m. / 6:25 p.m. – Paul Casey, Satoshi Kodaira, Branden Grace

12:51 p.m. / 6:36 p.m. – Zach Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Reed

1:02 p.m. / 6:47 p.m. – Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson

1:13 p.m. / 6:58 p.m. – Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Rickie Fowler

1:24 p.m. / 7:09 p.m. – Charles Howell III, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman

1:35 p.m. / 7:20 p.m. – Sungjae Im, Russell Knox, Matthew Wallace

1:46 p.m. / 7:31 p.m. – (a) Shintaro Ban, Sung Joon Park, Timothy Wilkinson

1:57 p.m. / 7:42 p.m. – Dylan Meyer, Sulman Raza, Chris Naegel

Thursday, No. 1 tee / Friday, No. 10 tee

5:30 p.m. / 11:45 a.m. – Sam Burns, Brian Gay, Dean Burmester

5:41 p.m. / 11:56 a.m. – TBD; (a) Chun An Yu, Wenchong Liang

5:52 p.m. / 12:07 p.m. – Russell Henley, Aaron Wise, Peter Uihlein

6:03 p.m. / 12:18 p.m. – Tony Finau, Luke List, Gary Woodland

6:14 p.m. / 12:29 p.m. – Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:25 p.m. / 12:40 p.m. – Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Alexander Noren

6:36 p.m. / 12:51 p.m. – Cameron Smith, Kyle Stanley, Pat Perez

6:47 p.m. / 1:02 p.m. – Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods

6:58 p.m. / 1:13 p.m. – Haotong Li, Si Woo Kim, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

7:09 p.m. / 1:24 p.m. – Jason Dufner, (a) Braden Thornberry, Brandt Snedeker

7:20 p.m. / 1:35 p.m. – TBD, (a) Ryan Lumsden, James Morrison

7:31 p.m. / 1:46 p.m. – Cameron Wilson, (a) Will Grimmer, (a) Philip Barbaree

7:42 p.m. / 1:57 p.m. – (a) Rhett Rasmussen, Michael Hebert, Michael Block

Thursday, No. 10 tee/ Friday, No. 1 tee

5:30 p.m. / 11:45 a.m. – Matthew Jones, Ryan Fox, Shota Akiyoshi

5:41 p.m. / 11:56 a.m. – Paul Waring, (a) Theo Humphrey, TBD

5:52 p.m. / 12:07 p.m. – Richy Werenski, Roberto Castro, Ollie Schniederjans

6:03 p.m. / 12:18 p.m. – (a) Noah Goodwin, Richie Ramsay, Kenny Perry

6:14 p.m. / 12:29 p.m. – Keegan Bradley, TBD, Xander Schauffele

6:25 p.m. / 12:40 p.m. – Lucas Glover, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell

6:36 p.m. / 12:51 p.m. – Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk

6:47 p.m. / 1:02 p.m. – Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer

6:58 p.m. / 1:13 p.m. – Kevin Kisner, Ross Fisher, Adam Hadwin

7:09 p.m. / 1:24 p.m. – Shane Lowry, TBD, Chez Reavie

7:20 p.m. / 1:35 p.m. – Lucas Herbert, Brian Stuard, (a) Stewart Hagestad

7:31 p.m. / 1:46 p.m. – (a) Franklin Huang, Sebastian Vazquez, Michael Miller

7:42 p.m. / 1:57 p.m. – Christopher Babcock, (a) Timothy Wiseman, David Gazzolo

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.