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Saturday, 09 June 2012
The US Open Trophy on the fairways of the Olympic Club  (EuropeanTour)
The US Open Trophy on the fairways of the Olympic Club (EuropeanTour)

Guide to the Lake Course at the Olympic Club

Established in 1860 by just 23 charter members, San Francisco’s Olympic Club is the oldest athletic club in America and has expanded significantly over the course of its rich 150-year history. Now boasting upwards of 5,000 members, competing in 19 different sports out of two clubhouses, the Olympic Club has 45 holes of golf over the Ocean Course, the nine-hole Cliffs Course, and of course its most renowned layout, the Lake Course. Designed in 1924 by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, the Lake Course will host the 112th US Open Championship for a fifth time next week, following the 1955, 1966, 1987 and 1998 stagings at the Olympic Club, and the course remains true to its 1920’s design, with Rory McIlroy and co. set to face a real test of golf as they battle narrow, tree-lined fairways and small, well-bunkered greens.


Hole guide: The Lake Course – par 70; 7,170 yards

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      1st – 520 yard par four

Having been played as a par five in all other four renditions of the US Open staged at the Olympic Club, the USGA have decided to make the Lake Course’s opener a par four this year so it should prove a thorny opponent. Slight dogleg to the right requires a fading drive from the tee, while a downhill second allows players to land their approaches short and run the ball up onto the putting surface. Accuracy is paramount though with danger lurking all around the green, thick stuff to the left while anything long or right will run away leaving a difficult up and down.

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      2nd – 428 yard par four

Lots of players will plump for a three wood from the tee as the fairway narrows around 270 yards down, so will play a very long 428 yards. Very difficult uphill approach shot into a green that slopes severely from back right to front left so long is no good.

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      3rd – 247 yard par three

Widely anticipated to be the hardest of the four par threes at this year’s US Open, despite playing downhill the third will be a difficult green to hit in regulation thanks to its small size and the swirling wind that is hard to gauge from the tee. Huge range of positions available for tee positions so expect varying length throughout the four tournament days.

4th – 438 yard par four   

A draw is favourable from the tee on a dogleg right to left, but with the fairway narrowing around 260 yards in players may choose to hit a long iron. The fairway slopes left to right so most players will be left a hanging lie for their approach into another tricky green that slopes from back left to front right.

5th – 498 yard par four

Plays the opposite to the fourth hole with a dogleg from left to right and a fairway that slopes the opposite way. Right side of the fairway is the line, then, but with big trees guarding the right hand side of the fairway anything sliced or pushed will be blocked off for the approach. Downhill and downwind second to one of the easier greens on the Lake Course.

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      6th – 489 yard par four

About 45 yards have been added to this hole since the Olympic Club last staged the US Open in 1998, bringing the left hand fairway bunker – the only on the course – into play from the tee. At over 295 yards to carry, many players may opt for three wood from the tee leaving a mid iron into a green with a false front.

7th – 288 yard par four

All about risk and reward. The shortest par four on the course offers players the option of going for the green in one but with no intermediate rough just six inches of treacherous rough surrounding the putting surface inaccuracy will be penalised. An iron from the tee will leave a wedge into a two tiered green.

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      8th – 200 yard par three

A new hole since the championship was last played at Olympic after 60 yards have been added to its length. A mid iron required into a green that slopes from right to left with bunkers guarding the front right and left. Cypress Trees down the left hand side means a back left pin position would require a draw.

9th – 449 yard par four

Like the fifth, the ninth is a slight dogleg from left to right with a fairway that slopes from right to left with a fade needed to hold onto the short grass. Depending on what players take from the tee the approach will vary between mid to short iron into a green that slopes viciously from back to front. Left hand side gives a straight uphill putt.

10th – 424 yard par four

One of the more birdieable holes on the course, players will be required to hit a fade from the tee to hold the fairway on this fairly sharp left to right dogleg. The approach will be with a fairly short iron into a flat-ish green that slopes slightly from front to back.

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      11th – 430 yard par four

A pretty straight par four that usually plays into a strong headwind. The fairway has been moved slightly to the left which presents a better angle into the green but brings the Pines and Cypress trees more into play. Short to mid iron will follow into a two tiered green that is flat on the top level but sloping severely from left to right on the bottom.

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      12th – 451 yard par four

Lengthened over 30 yards since the last US Open on the Lake Course, the 12th has an intimidating tee shot down a narrow avenue of trees leaving a mid iron into a fairly small green with a closely mown surroundings ready to collect any wayward approach.

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      13th – 199 yard par three

A mid iron par three with bunkers protecting a green that slopes from back to front. The left side of the green will be closely mown and you may see a lot of putters come out for those that stray down that side.

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      14th – 419 yard par four

A few options from the tee on this dogleg left par four. A driver can catch the downslope and leave a wedge, while a more accurate three wood or hybrid might be the option to try and hold the narrow fairway. Shots too far left could be blocked out by the trees with a punch shot out the only option to try and find a green guarded by two large bunkers at the front of the green.

15th – 154 yard par three

The shortest par three on the course, most players will be hitting nine iron or pitching wedge in a green well-protected by four surrounding bunkers. As on the seventh hole there will be no intermediate cut of rough meaning wayward tee shots could prove to result in tricky up and downs.

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      16th – 670 yard par five

With a new tee, the 16th will be the longest hole in US Open history although it will be played off forward tees on some of the competition days. Sweeping from right to left its entire 670 yards, it is as much of a three shot par five as you are ever likely to see. It will be a wedge or more left into a green with bunkers front right and left that slopes from back to front.

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      17th – 522 yard par five

Playing as a par five for the first time in a US Open, a par five reachable in two if your right to left tee shot holds the fairway. Risk and reward will follow with those successfully finding the green having a good chance at making eagle while more close-cut run off areas lurk to catch the over exuberant approaches.

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      18th – 344 yard par four

One of the shortest par fours on the course, the Lake Course’s closing hole demands an accurate tee shot and an accurate semi-blind approach into a green that slopes from back to front with four bunkers protecting it. A natural amphitheatre and a fitting finale to a testing and visually pleasing layout.

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