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FANS’ GUIDE TO THE OPEN


1 and 17, making the start more rugged and the finish more inviting and poten- tially more exciting. This will turn the opening hole into a (downhill) 520-yard, par 4 and make No. 17 a reachable (albeit uphill) 522-yard par- 5. The only two par 5s will come back-to-back at Nos. 16 and 17. First, players have to weather the start. If the game plan at Pebble Beach is to score on the first seven holes, the logic at Olym- pic will be to survive the opening six. Davis predicted players could go 2-over through this stretch and not lose ground to the field. “I think this will be the


hardest start in U.S. Open history,” he said. “The first six holes will be brutal. There’s absolutely no letup until you get to the 7th hole.” Then again, the final five


holes will present abundant scoring chances. Players could hit wedge shots into all five greens, creating the possibility of a furious and dramatic comeback down the stretch. Now that could be fun.


No. 7


WHEN: June 11-17 (practice rounds Monday through Wednesday, championship rounds Thursday through Sunday)


WHERE: Olympic Club (Lake Course), San Francisco


TRANSPORTATION: USGA officials are urging spectators to take BART to the Open. Free shuttles will bring people from the Colma


station directly to the course’s main entrance.


No. 16


Among the most notable course changes at Olympic since the 1998 Open:


A new tee at No. 6 stretches the hole to 489 yards


(it played at 437 in ’98). This brings the course’s only fairway bunker squarely into play, requiring about a 295-yard carry to clear. The new green at No. 7 is two tiers, not three—


still challenging, sure, but less intimidating. No. 8, the par-3 rising toward the clubhouse, is a


completely different hole. The tee is much farther right, creating a different angle, and the hole measures 200 yards from the back tee. It was only 137 yards for the ’98 Open. A new way-way-way back tee at No. 16 gives


Davis the option of stretching that hole to 670 yards— the longest hole in U.S. Open history. He plans to use the new tee on two of the four days. The No. 18 green, site of roiling controversy in ’98,


is wider and not as sloped. USGA officials placed the hole in a precarious spot for the second round 14 years ago, leaving Stewart simmering as his short putt scooted well past the hole. Players will tee off on Nos. 1 and 9 (not 10) during


the first two days of the tournament. No. 9 is more ac- cessible; starting half the field on No. 10 would require groups to walk across the No. 17 fairway, slowing play.


Ron Kroichick covers golf for the San Francisco Chronicle.


PARKING: If you must drive, there will be free parking and shuttles from Candlestick Park. There will be no local paid parking near the course.


VIEWING SPOTS: The large hillsides surrounding the greens at Nos. 8 and 18 create natural amphitheater settings. (Just arrive early, with 33,500 spectators ex- pected each day during the tournament.) Another spot to consider: the area behind


the No. 10 green, near the No. 15 green and No. 16 tee. USGA officials are planning for 14,000 grandstand seats throughout the course, including some on nearly every hole.


FOOD: The main food court will be located above No. 18, in the area where the Olympic Club’s parking lot usually sits. Dozens of varieties of foods will be available—but, alas, none of the club’s famously tasty hamburgers.


SPRING 2012 / NCGA.ORG / 29


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PHOTO: USGA


PHOTO: USGA


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