Four holes to watch during the U.S. Open
11 Jun 2024
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: U.S. Open Golf Championship, Pinehurst Resort and Country Club - No. 2

Pinehurst No. 2 has hosted three U.S. Opens since 1999 and has proven a true challenge as only five players have finished under par in those three U.S Open. Four players finished 2014 under par before that, Payne Stewart (-1) was the only player to play 72 holes under par in a Pinehurst U.S. Open.

The course will play as a par 70 at 7,548 yards and Donald Ross’ design is known for the tough greens, wire grass, and waste areas. They say at Pinehurst a golfer doesn't count the amount of greens they hit but instead the greens they "visited" as balls tend to land on the turtleback greens and roll off the steep edges.

The last time the U.S. Open was at Pinehurst Matt Fitzpatrick won low amateur.

Here are four holes that should have a big impact on this week’s proceedings at Pinehurst.

Hole 3 - Par 4 - 387 

To call out any one particular Pinehurst No. 2 green as “Devilish” would be tough because depending on how you’re trying to navigate any of Ross’ 18 holes at Pinehurst they could all be called Devilish, or worse. But the third green is one that will lurk in the minds of players before they arrive and after they leave. In 2014, the USGA moved up the tees to tempt players to drive the green. Missing the green long will leave players needing some magic to get down in two. While it’s an early hole in the round, there is potential for weekend disasters that lead to players tumbling down the leaderboard and needing to save the day with birdies, which can cause things to spiral out of control in a U.S. Open.

Hole 4 - Par 4 - 528 

USGA/Fred Vuich

This hole was once a par 5 in the U.S. Open, but is now a par 4. The fifth hole was once a par 4 and will now played as a par 5. This little corner of the course will be intriguing for a couple of reasons. First, players could walk off the third hole after a mistake and feel the need to try and force the issue. That could prove disastrous on this long, tough hole. Second, the downhill tee shot calls for a draw, and this generation of players loves to hit fades off the tee. Missing the fairway and hitting into a 528-yard par 4 from the wire grass and waste area could bring a lot of trouble into play. 

Hole 9 - Par 3 - 184 

USGA/Fred Vuich

It’s not unusual for Ross courses to have a par 3 as the ninth hole. And this one is a gem. Arriving late on Friday near the cut line will leave players needing to hit a very accurate iron shot into this green that is surrounded by bunkers. This hole will not relinquish an easy par and could provide some drama both on Friday afternoon and over the weekend for the final groups.

Hole 16 - Par 4 - 530

USGA/John Mummert

A par 5 for mere Pinehurst members and guests, this beastly par 5 could decide the tournament on Sunday afternoon. In 1999, Payne Stewart made a 25-foot double-breaking putt for par before Phil Mickelson missed his 7-footer. The tournament swung in those few minutes. The cross bunker on the left makes hitting the fairway paramount here, as recovery shots from the trees and waste area could tumble into it and bring double bogey into play. The green is raised, making the hole feel even longer as balls that come up short won't always reach the green.


The U.S. Open is the biggest of the 14 national championships conducted by the USGA. Open to amateurs and professionals.

The USGA intends to make the U.S. Open the most rigorous, yet fair, examination of golf skills, testing all forms of shot-making. The USGA prepares the course after careful consideration of 14 different factors.

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