October 28, 2021 By: Ben Volin — BROOKLINE — It’s not easy to create a new experience out of a golf course that opened in 1894 and has been a championship venue for more than a century. The Country Club is a founding member of the United States Golf Association and has hosted 16 USGA championships in its storied past.
But the USGA still managed to create a unique test for the 122nd US Open, which will be held at TCC next June 16-19. The USGA is debuting a new hole for the championship that has never been used at the previous three US Opens at The Country Club (1913, 1963, 1988).
It’s a 130-yard, downhill par-3 that will serve as the 11th hole (it is typically the 12th hole of the club’s main course). It can play as short as 105 yards or as long as 142, and the USGA plans on giving the golfers that yardage differential on consecutive days.
It will be one of the shortest holes in US Open history, but it provides plenty of bite, with a tabletop green that rolls off on all sides and four bunkers defending the green. The green was expanded to its original size in recent years by architect Gil Hanse.
The new par-3 is sandwiched between par-4s of 499 and 473 yards. To make room for this new 11th hole, the USGA eliminated what was previously the par-4 fourth hole.
“There’s not enough short holes in golf anymore,” said Jeff Hall, championship director for the USGA. “It’s a pitching wedge hole, but it still demands execution at a high level. And if you don’t, you will pay the price.”
The USGA unveiled the 2022 course routing at a media event Thursday. The Country Club has 27 holes, and the USGA uses a composite course — and even mixes and matches a few tee boxes — for its championships. The 2022 US Open will include 14½ holes from the main course (the Clyde and Squirrel 9s) and 3½ holes from the Primrose 9. The course will measure 7,264 yards and play 35-35-70. The ninth and 10th holes of the main course will serve as the driving range.
Next year’s tourney will be the first USGA championship at TCC since the 2013 US Amateur. The three previous US Opens at the club all finished in playoffs, including the 1913 championship, in which Brookline amateur Francis Ouimet defeated the top golfers in the world and put American golf on the map. The club is also famous for hosting the 1999 Ryder Cup in which the United States completed a raucous comeback on the final day.
“It’s fantastic to come back to one of our founding clubs,” Hall said. “It’s old school. You stand on the first tee at The Country Club and you just look out there and say, ‘This is a US Open golf course.’ ”
The course has undergone several small renovations over the past decade to get ready for USGA championships and account for today’s big hitters.
The other significant change for the US Open is the championship’s 14th hole, which previously played as a par-4 but has been expanded to a 619-yard par-5.
“It’s a pretty legitimate three-shot hole,” Hall said.
Another signature hole will be No. 5, a 310-yard par-4 that has a new, elevated tee box. The green is small and surrounded by several bunkers, but today’s big hitters will definitely be aiming for the flag, and maybe not even with the driver.
“I’m fascinated to see how the modern golfer plays that particular hole,” Hall said. “Is it a strategic approach? I kind of doubt it. I think a lot of them are going to get after it, bang it up there. But it’s a very small target.”
The rough will be unforgiving, as is customary in USGA events. Hall said the first cut will be 1½ inches, some holes will have a second cut at 3 inches, and the deep rough will be 5 inches. Around the greens, the rough will be only 1½ and 5 inches.
“The thought is to put some level of premium on driving the golf ball in the fairway, controlling your golf ball up around the greens,” Hall said. “It’s an important element of the overall test of the US Open.”