Athlon breaks down all 18 holes at Congressional's Blue Course
Irishman Graeme McDowell will try and defend his title this week as Congressional Country Club will play host to the U.S. Open for the third. Here is a breakdown of all 18 holes of the 7,574-yard, par 70 Blue course. Ken Venturi won in 1964, and Ernie Els was victorious in 1997. It also was home to the 1976 PGA Championship won by Dave Stockton. Tiger Woods’ annual AT&T National made the course its home from 2007-2009, and may return in 2012.
No. 1 I Par 4 I 402 yards
This traditional par 4 introduces a classic golf course that dates to 1924. It could offer up an opening birdie should the tee shot stay out of the four fairway bunkers up the right side. Three bunkers flank a relatively flat green.
No. 2 I Par 3 I 233 yards
Six bunkers protect the front and sides of a bowl-shaped green. The putting surface slopes from back left to front right with a ridge bisecting its midsection.
No. 3 I Par 4 I 466 yards
There’s trouble on either side of the fairway: Trees left and three bunkers stacked up the right. The two pot bunkers on the right can be tougher to get out of than the two larger bunkers left of the green. A large sloping green has its share of tough pin placements.
No. 4 I Par 4 I 470 yards
One of the narrowest fairways on the course bends to the right through a chute of trees. It’s the first of several fairways on the course without a single bunker. A medium-sized green makes up for their absence with three bunkers in front.
No. 5 I Par 4 I 413 yards
A sloping fairway sweeps left from an elevated tee, almost in the shape of a crescent moon. Three fairway bunkers on the left corner attract balls like magnets. Three more bunkers surround the green.
No. 6 I Par 5 I 555 yards
This tough par 5 defends itself better than most on Tour. Tee shots lost right can find two bunkers, a stream or out-of-bounds. Players having a go in two must fly two pot bunkers guarding the front of the green while avoiding a large pond short and left.
No. 7 I Par 3 I 173 yards
Four cavernous bunkers swallow misguided shots to a scary green with multiple tiers. Depending upon the pin location, this green might provide the most severe putting test on the course.
No. 8 I Par 4 I 354 yards
It might be unwise to have a go at the green off the tee on the shortest par 4 of the course. The large bunker and stand of trees on the right keep most players from cutting the corner. Five bunkers circle a small, narrow green.
No. 9 I Par 5 I 636 yards
Can anyone conquer this long slog of a hole by reaching the green in two? Even tee shots that land safely between two fairway bunkers will likely require a layup short of a deep ravine roughly 100 yards from the green. Four bunkers in front and one back left protect the putting surface.
No. 10 I Par 3 I 218 yards
Anything short of the green could get rinsed by the largest lake on the course. A bunker front right and two in back make club selection to this narrow green a guessing game. A spine cuts the green in half, sending most shots to a front right collection area.
No. 11 I Par 4 I 494 yards
This straightaway hole — a par 5 for the members — falls from an elevated tee to a tight landing area that slopes from left to right toward a pair of bunkers. Four bunkers are stacked up the left side near the green. A stream up the right side leads to a menacing pond left of the putting surface.
No. 12 I Par 4 I 471 yards
The fairway doglegs hard to the left off of a big fairway bunker on the right. It slopes right to left, sometimes pushing balls toward the trees. The second shot plays slightly downhill to a deep green protected by three bunkers.
No. 13 I Par 3 I 193 yards
Falling short into any of the three greenside bunkers is a mistake, but going long into a large mound is no picnic, either. Certain pin locations can be diabolical.
No. 14 I Par 4 I 467 yards
With the right side of the fairway falling off, and out-of-bounds lurking to the left, players must trust their swings for a straight tee shot. A long approach shot from a downhill lie can be difficult to hit over four greenside bunkers.
No. 15 I Par 4 I 490 yards
Four fairway bunkers stacked up the right side are easily avoidable with no such hazards on the other side. The challenge comes from the uphill approach to a green that slopes left to right and back to front, with a ridge in the middle. Three bottomless front bunkers and one in back cause concern as well.
No. 16 I Par 5 I 579 yards
Most tee shots won’t roll much, landing into the face of a hill between two fairway bunkers on either side. Five bunkers — four on the right and the largest on the left — can snatch up daring second shots or careless third shots.
No. 17 I Par 4 I 437 yards
Players must throttle back, making sure their tee shots don’t fly into a dreaded downhill lie from the rough in a valley at the 150-yard mark. A long skinny bunker to the right of the green complements the four smaller ones on the left.
No. 18 I Par 4 I 523 yards
Congressional now saves it stiffest challenge for its last (this hole was the 17th before the 2006 redesign). By hitting a favorable draw off the tee, players set up their gut-check shot, an approach to a green surrounded by water and four bunkers.