Lifestyle: Spotlights

US Open at Shinnecock Hills

The ultimate game on a legendary course
By Rachel Bosworth - June 13, 2018

The 118th US Open Championship is taking the course at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton with play beginning June 11. Professional and amateur players will face-off at one of the most exciting major tournaments  competing on 18 holes spanning 7,445 yards. It is a fitting location to host the game, as the golf club has just as long of a history as the US Golf Association (USGA) and the US Open Championship. Shinnecock Hills was one of the five founding member clubs of the USGA and hosted the second championship game in 1896 when James Foulis took the title. Players have increased over the years, this year the starting field of 156 golfers will be cut to the lowest scorers after 36 holes, but the heart of the game remains the same.

“As one of the five founding clubs of the USGA, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club has played an integral role in the history of golf,” says Jeff Altstadter, Director of Open Championships Public Relations for the USGA. “The course has hosted five US Opens and nine USGA championships. Hosting the US Open at Shinnecock allows the USGA to celebrate one of the world’s most iconic courses.”

Shinnecock Hills has a long history as the oldest incorporated golf club in the country. It was designed by architect Willie Davis, who completed the first 12 holes in 1891. Head professional Willie Dunn contributed an additional six holes by 1894. The course itself was interrupted by a railroad line that resulted in six new holes for play from 1916 to 1917, created by Charles Blair Macdonald, who also built the first 18-hole course in the United States. Shinnecock’s history continued when William Flynn then constructed 12 new holes, which largely altered Macdonald’s layout from 1929 to 1931. The clubhouse, built in 1892, underwent a major restoration in 2016, though the structure remains very much the same as it did more than a century ago. In all of this time, there is one thing that has not changed: Shinnecock Hills is a championship course.

“As one of the five founding clubs of the USGA and the host of our second US Open in 1896, Shinnecock has stood the test of time,” said USGA Executive Director/CEO Mike Davis in a press release. “It holds a special place in our history books, and we’re excited to add another chapter to that legacy in 2018.

The Shinnecock Hills Golf Club hosted the second US Open in 1896 with 35 players total, and the second US Amateur with 58 players. Since, it has hosted a total of eight USGA Championship games, the last of which was the 2004 US Open when Retief Goosen won by two strokes over Phil Mickelson. Few other Long Island locations have hosted US Opens, the most recent being Bethpage State Park in 2009 when Lucas Glover took the title.

“The 2018 U.S. Open will be golf’s ultimate test,” Altstadter says. “Players can expect to be challenged physically, emotionally and mentally for four rounds. The course will require the competitors to hit all 14 clubs in their bag and strategically think their way around the course.”

Among the players this year that competed in Shinnecock’s 2004 Open are Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez, Kenny Perry, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods. These seasoned pros will face today’s ones-to-watch, including Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, and Jordan Spieth, to name a few. This year’s winner will receive a US Open exemption for the next ten years, invitations to the next five Masters Tournaments, Open Championships, PGA Championships, and exempt status on the PGA Tour for the next five years.

“The U.S. Open is the most open championship in golf, which means anyone with an eligible handicap can attempt to qualify to play on golf’s grandest stage,” Altstadter explains. “Every year we see players from all walks of life challenge players like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. This year we have 12 past champions in the field including 1994 and 1997 champion Ernie Els and 2003 champion Jim Furyk.”

A total of 9,049 entries were accepted for the US Open this year, the eighth-highest behind the record of 10,127 entries for the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club’s Course No. 2. 54 of these players are fully exempt into the field. Among these is Brooks Koepka, the 2017 champion who “brought the longest U.S. Open to its knees to produce a four-stroke victory over 54-hole leader Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama.” Koepka became the seventh consecutive first-time major champion and the third American in a row to win the US Open.

Fans can enjoy the game, which is expected to sell out, with various ticket packages. Premier packages like the 1895 Club and Hampton Club and the fan experience packages offer the best access on the course, upgraded food and beverage service, dedicated seating areas, and more.

Shinnecock Hills won’t see another US Open Championship game on its course until June 2026. This year’s matchups are sure to be exciting for professional golfers, the fans, and the sport overall. Defending champions and new contenders will take the field on the west coast next year for the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.

“It’s the ultimate because it is your nation’s championship,” Tiger Woods, a three-time US Open champion, told USGA. “The US Open is the most difficult test in all of golf. [It] really prides itself on where a person really has to hit all 14 clubs. Grinding about, never giving in, getting up and down, and just hanging in there. It’s a very different mentality that rewards guys for being ultra-feisty, ultra-competitive, and never giving in.“

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