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An Unexpected Quirk On The 15th Hole At The US Open

At this week’s U.S. Open, the 15th hole at Los Angeles Country Club is causing trouble for golfers. It measures 124 yards but may be adjusted to as short as 78 yards, making it the shortest hole in major championship golf history. Architect Gil Hanse emphasizes the precision required despite its length. The USGA is focused on challenging players, and Jeff Hall explains that the hole requires skillful shots to a small area. The hole’s distance can be extended or contracted based on daily adjustments. The goal is to find the right yardage that distinguishes skill, considering ground and weather conditions.

Fox News: US Open’s 15th hole to provide interesting quirk for golf’s third major

By Lee Ross, June 13, 2023

In a week when brawny 400-yard drives could be de rigueur, it’s an itty-bitty hole that may cause fits for golfers at this week’s U.S. Open.

The 15th hole at Los Angeles Country Club is listed at 124 yards. That’s unquestionably short by modern standards but for at least one day this week tournament officials are expected to adjust the hole to measure as short as 78 yards — making it the shortest hole in the living memory of major championship golf.

“Even though it’s short on the card, it still requires an amazing shot,” architect Gil Hanse recently told Fox News. “And that level of precision ultimately is how we challenge the best players in the world.”

Hanse was part of a design team that renovated the course more than a decade ago and is deeply interested in how it will stand up to the best players in the world.

 “It’s one of those things where the accuracy required there, even though it’s a short club the margin for error is so small because that green is literally, I think, seven paces wide,” Hanse said.

Promotional materials provided by the United States Golf Association dedicate significant space to the longest holes and courses in the tournament’s 123-year history. There’s been much discussion lately about the ability of modern golfers to hit the ball great distances leading golf’s stewards like the USGA to propose limitations on how far golf balls can or should travel. This same material makes no mention of the shortest holes played.

“Hey, you’ve got to play a shot here,” USGA’s Jeff Hall said about the 15th hole. “You’ve got to play a shot to this very small area with a club that is likely to be a little something of something. Right? It’s not. … A full shot for these guys.”  

Hall’s official title is managing director, rules and open championships, but he is probably best viewed as the man ultimately responsible for presenting the course each day.

Large teeing areas on most holes and LACC’s deep greens give Hall and the rest of his team the daily ability to adjust how each hole plays. For the 15th, that means just like an accordion the hole could play almost 150 yards when extended and almost half that when contracted.

“I think we always want to use the flexibility that is provided within the golf course and within the holes on the golf course,” Hall said.

But he also cautioned that while there is a desire for seeing players challenged at least once at 15 with forwardly placed tee markers and a hole cut in the green’s front right section — ground and weather conditions will be considered.

 “You don’t want to have good shots and bad shots end up in the same place,” Hall declared. “That’s not distinguishing skill. So we have to try to get the right yardage. Maybe if it’s a little bit breezier, you know, maybe the right yardage is 86 yards and we achieve the same goal.”

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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