6 Best US Open Venues
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The U.S. Open is the best and most significant of all the majors.
The Masters may like to think of itself as the best, but while the hype is huge for that tournament, it's nowhere near the challenge that the U.S. Open is most years. The only tournament that's close is the British Open, but if you are an American golfer, you will usually stick with the U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open is almost always played at a difficult and historical venue. Course setups are designed to challenge the best golfers in the world, and even par can be a winning U.S. Open score.
U.S. Open golf courses tend to go into rotation, and a course may host the tournament every seven or eight years.
Pebble Beach Golf Links last hosted the U.S. Open in 2010 and Graeme McDowell came away with the victory.
Pebble Beach is a chilling and challenging golf course, but its incredible physical beauty is what earns it a spot on the list of top U.S. Open golf course. In addition to the spectacular Pacific Ocean, the cliffs on the fourth through the 10th holes are breathtaking.
While the greatest golfers in the world can master the course during ideal weather circumstances, it is nearly impossible to post a respectable score when the wind is howling.
Pebble Beach has been the site of memorable U.S. Open wins by Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods.
Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York was the site of perhaps the most demanding and difficult U.S. Open in history when it hosted the event in 1974.
The year before, Johnny Miller posted his famous closing round of 63 at Oakmont, and the U.S. Open organizers did not want to see a similar reckoning the following year. As a result, the greens were hard and fast, and the layout made playing par golf a major challenge.
By the time it was over, Hale Irwin won the event with a score of 287, seven-over par. The 1974 U.S. Open was forever known as the "Massacre at Winged Foot" (source: ESPN.com).
When the U.S. Open returned to Winged Foot 10 years later, Fuzzy Zoeller found a much easier course, and he won with a score of 276, four-under par.
The course is known for its artful bunkers and greens.
Webb Simpson won the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco with a score of 281, one-over par.
He held off Michael Thompson and Graeme McDowell to win the title (source: Golf.com).
The Olympic Club deserves a spot on this list because it is a visually beautiful course that requires precision and expertise on each shot.
The 18th hole is a short par four. It requires a precise tee shot to the center of the fairway, and the approach is to a tiny green, which is surrounded by an amphitheater. There are also four bunkers that guard the green. If you don't stay below the hole with your second shot, you are in danger of three-putting the green.
Retief Goosen won his second U.S. Open at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club with a score of 276, four-under par in 2004.
Shinnecock Hills feels like a throwback to an older American era (source: Jaime Diaz, GolfDigest.com). In many U.S. Opens, the warm, moist air of Long Island gives the tournament a back-to-nature feel.
The course itself is a masterpiece with uneven fairways and a wide variety of grasses that have several different hues.
When the setup is proper, the best golfers must use all their shotmaking skills to have a chance. The course favors the shotmaker over the long hitter by a significant margin.
Johnny Miller shot one of the most famous scores in golf history when he fired a 63 on the final day of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont in Pennsylvania. The brilliant final round gave Miller a winning score of 279, five-under par.
While that scintillating round will live on in the history books, it is not indicative of how difficult the Oakmont Country Club is.
It is a very long and the greens are superslick and fast. Putting at Oakmont is almost always a nightmare. Golfers who can't keep the ball in the fairway are punished by the difficult rough.
But it's the putting that decides U.S. Opens that are played at Oakmont. Lee Trevino once said that he knew that if he could two-putt at Oakmont (source: Post-Gazette.com), he knew he would move up on the leader board. He was only half joking.
Payne Stewart's 1999 triumph at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort was one of the great stories of that golf season. Stewart shot a one-under-par 279 for the event.
Pinehurst is considered a destination for all golf aficionados, and when it is prepared for the U.S. Open it is a major challenge.
Ben Crenshaw recently redesigned the course, and when it hosts the 2014 U.S. Open, it will have added length. The course will be 7,485 yards, 271 yards longer than it had been in the past (source: sportsillustrated.cnn.com).
The rough has been replaced by hardpan and wire grass, and that will make it a new type of challenge for the best golfers in the world.