Congressional Country Club measures an intimidating 7,574 yards. Mike Davis recently revealed plans to shorten several holes for a round to Golf Digest. The US Open is the toughest test in golf; opportunities need to be created by great shots, not an easier course set up. Already giving players an extra stroke by playing to a par 71, there is no need to shorten other holes. The following are the holes that are planned to be shortened and how this affects their difficulty.
Playing uphill, the tee shot will require a long iron or a fairway wood. In many ways, it's almost unfair that this hole is a par 3. From 233 yards, the hole will require a player to do something great to save par, whether it be the tee shot or around the green. If the hole is shortened as planned, it will bring mid irons into the mix. This makes the hole much more playable. Greatness will not be required for par.
From the back tee, the hole requires a fade with the driver. The plan is for the hole to be shortened to 415 yards for a round. This allows players to cut the corner of the dogleg and not use the driver. Even for the tour pros, working the driver is a challenge. Doing so with a shorter club is much easier. If players easily can cut the corner, the approach becomes easier with a short iron.
The tiered green puts a premium on accuracy, making up for the the short length of the hole. However, it is planned to set up the hole for a round so that only a wedge will be required off the tee. Unless the hole is highly susceptible to wind, such as the seventh at Pebble Beach, a wedge is simply too easy of a shot for a U.S. Open hole.
The ninth hole is a true three-shot par 5. Players will not be reaching this hole in two. It is an homage to the past, when many par 5s were not reachable. Again, there is a plan to move the tee forward to give players a chance at hitting the green in two. This would make all par 5s on the course reachable. That is simply too many opportunities for scoring in a U.S. Open round.
With water right up to the front edge of the green, the tee shot will be very difficult into a thin green. It seems that the round one setup will have this hole closer to 190 yards. Making this shot a mid to short iron really takes the bite out of the hole. Players have much better distance and spin control with shorter clubs.
Similar to the fourth hole, shaping a a driver will be needed from the back tee. The plan is to shorten the hole to 405 yards. Once again, players will be able to shape a shot with a shorter club and have a shorter approach shot.
The U.S. Open is unique because it is so penalizing and requires perfection. The Masters has the charm of Augusta and the ability to score. The British Open is played on a links style course.
Make the players hit long irons to par 3s, make them not be able to reach a par 5 in two shots and make them shape the driver off the tee. It's the toughest test in golf, it should require the most difficult shots.