5 key holes at Shinnecock Hills that will decide U.S. Open winner

Photo of 5 key holes at Shinnecock Hills that will decide U.S. Open winner

The iconic Shinnecock Hills Golf Club located in Southampton N.Y. is set to host the 118th U.S. Open. The 7,445-yard par-70 course will play home to the major for the fifth time, and first since 2004.

The monstrous track will demand both distance and accuracy off the tee, as golfers must avoid the treacherous rough in order to put scoring clubs into their hands and attack the firm-and-fast greens.

Here are five holes that will have a major impact on how the U.S. Open unfolds.

No. 5 - Par 5, 589 yards

Ranked as the easiest hole in the 2004 U.S. Open, the par-5 fifth will be the best opportunity to make birdie on the entire property. A drive in the fairway is a must in order to have a run at hitting the green in two. However, being too aggressive brings the massive run-off behind the green into play, and will leave golfers scrambling to salvage par.

No. 7 - Par 3, 189 yards

The par-3 seventh was made famous in 2004, as the green became so baked the USGA had to water it during the final round. The classic redan-style hole typically plays into the prevailing wind from the right, bringing the two bunkers located front left of the green into play. Making a par will feel like a birdie as the scoring average was almost half a stroke over par in 2004.

No. 10 - Par 4, 415 yards

No. 10 was the hardest hole in 2004 and provides golfers with a difficult decision off the tee. They can either hit a long iron to a plateau, leaving around 150 yards into the green, or hit driver down the hill, bringing bunkers into play and leaving a tough uphill approach shot. Any approach shot that goes long will become a challenging par, as the severe slope behind the green can send balls 25 yards away.

No. 16 - Par 5, 616 yards

The 16th is the second and final par 5 on the property and played as the second easiest hole in 2004. However, the addition of 74 yards will make it play substantially different, as the tee shot will require almost 300 yards of carry into the prevailing wind. Finding trouble off the tee will bring double-bogeys into play, whereas good tee shots will create plenty of birdie opportunities.

No. 18 - Par 4, 485 yards

Evidently, the final hole will play a factor in determining the champion. This long par 4 played slightly over par in 2004 and 32 yards were added since then. A blind tee shot requires precision to create the optimal angle into the green guarded by bunkers. Here's to hoping fireworks occur on the 18th Sunday.

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