Hazeltine Member Dan Mulheran took social media fans on a tour of the championship golf course this summer with a weekly countdown of the holes leading up the 2016 Ryder Cup. This Blog is compiled from his posts and provides an insider's hole-by-hole look at Hazeltine that only a member who’s played it day in and day out can provide. Enjoy!
Ryder Cup Routing Course Tour
For the first time in the history of Hazeltine National, the golf course has been re-routed. For the Ryder Cup, holes 1-4 and 14-18 comprise the front nine. Holes 10-13 and 5-9 comprise the back nine. Hazeltine is using this Ryder Cup routing for the entire 2016 season.
Ryder Cup #1
The first tee box of any Ryder Cup is a unique and electric experience! The passion for the teams, the excitement of the crowd, and the determination of the players & captains all culminate on the first tee box on Friday morning!
All of the planning, the strategy, the construction, the volunteers, the qualification, and the captains’ picks come down to this one special place. Players have said they were just happy to get the ball airborne, others have said that they had to switch the order with their partner, without a doubt, the 1st tee at the Ryder Cup is one of the most unique and demanding in all of golf!
The 1st at Hazeltine will play at 442 yards. (An Interesting note on course setup and strategy: the championship tee at 490 will not be used...there is a large grandstand in front of it!) This will hopefully bring a calming effect, maybe some 3-woods, (and birdies!) into play. It plays slightly downhill. There are three fairway bunkers and three green-side bunkers. The green complex slopes from back right to front left and contains a narrow opening in the front left.
#1 Fun Facts
After Ryder Cup week, there will be only 1 other golf course in the world, Pinehurst No. 2, that has hosted the breadth of Championship Golf events as Hazeltine.
Ryder Cup #2
The second is a dogleg left that plays slightly uphill. At 429 yards, it is one of the shorter par 4's on the course. The hole provides for a spectrum of opportunities off the tee from conservative to aggressive. Three fairway bunkers and four green-side bunkers are in play on the second, but perhaps the best challenge is the subtle breaks in several different pin locations on the green.
Hazeltine National Golf Club was founded by former USGA President Totton P. Heffelfinger and famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones in 1962. While the word “Hazeltine” is an English term meaning “a valley where hazel trees grow,” the golf course was named after the bordering Hazeltine Lake.
Ryder Cup #3
A lengthy Par 5, the third plays 633 yards from the Championship Tees! Although several members may tell you they have reached this green in two, it's a rare feat even for the bigger hitters. There is a significant upslope in the fairway that begins approximately 330 yards off the tee. One of the largest and deepest bunkers on the course guards all but the very front left of this green. The fairway also slopes severely from left to right for the last 120 yards.
#3 Fun Facts
Our amazing Team USA Captain's nickname is DL3.
Hazeltine has had only three Professionals in its 54-year history. The first professional was Don Waryan. Totton Heffelfinger hired him from Woodhill Country Club to head the new club. In 1977, Mike Schultz took the helm for 37 years. Schultz led Hazeltine through several USGA events and both PGA Championships. Mike retired in 2012. And current Head Golf Professional, Chandler Withington, was hired as the third Golf Professional in its storied history.
On September 12th Team USA Captain Davis Love III, announced 3 of his Captain’s selections for Team USA: Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes, and Matt Kuchar.
Ryder Cup #4
Ryder Cup #4 has brought us back to the traditional course routing. The 4th is the first Par 3 on the course. Playing 210 yards, the 4th is the only par 3 without a water hazard on the course. The biggest defense that this hole has is pin placement and green speed. The front to back slope will require an accurate shot that is left below the hole. Sidehill and downhill putts on this green can be treacherous!
#4 Fun Facts
4 Years we have waited for the Ryder Cup to come back to US soil. The "Miracle at Medina" left the US team and Captain Love more passionate than ever in their desire for a Ryder cup victory for Team USA, and specifically here as the host country.
4 The number of consecutive Ryder Cup victories Team Europe will be attempting to secure at Hazeltine.
Ryder Cup #5
At just 352 yards, the 5th at Hazeltine is the shortest Par 4 on the course. The world’s best can hit driver (and maybe even 3 wood) onto this green and give a chance to their team for a par four eagle.
One of the most dramatic events in the last decade of golf occurred here in the 2009 PGA Championship. In what had become a two man battle for the tournament, Y.E. Yang announced to the world that he was ready to beat the previously uncatchable Tiger Woods in a major championship event when he chipped in from the front right fringe for eagle.
#5 Fun Fact
The maximum possible points an individual player could contribute to their team for the event is five. Although a very rarely accomplished feat, with 5 additional points, Phil Mickelson could become the all-time points leader for Team USA. Phil currently stands at 19 and Hazeltine Champion Billy Casper is at 23.5.
Ryder Cup #6
Only the very longest hitters will have a chance to reach this green in two. The decision to try to reach the green in two could provide interesting twists to the matches. We will likely see this attempted several times during the fourball matches, but whether a group takes on the risk/reward during a foursome match is yet to be seen. The length of the 6th (along with the 11th & 12th) could even come into play when the captains decide pairings.
"One of the best shots I've ever seen," was Tiger Woods comment when he watched his playing partner in the 2009 PGA Championship, Padrig Harrington, reach the green from 301 yards out of the left fairway bunker. Harrington hit it to 12 feet!
The 6th is also home to the most bunkers of any hole on the course (tied with #11). A stunning optical is to stand at the beginning of the hole and see all 14 bunkers, then walk to the back of the green and you can't see a single one!
Ryder Cup #7
Often referred to as the "Signature Hole" at Hazeltine National Golf Club, the 7th is an incredible and picturesque golf hole.
The 402 yard par 4 curves along the shoreline of Hazeltine Lake. The optimal drive requires a 200+ yard carry over the lake with a slight fade. A shot that draws off the tee will bring the creek along the left side of the fairway into play. Too much fade will bring the lake into play or block the approach to the green. The approach shot is not for the faint of heart either. The elevated peninsula green complex juts out into Hazeltine Lake. Wind conditions will play a major factor in the scoring opportunities here.
The 7th has seen significant drama over the years but maybe none more so than the 1991 U.S. Open.
Traditionally played as hole #16, this was the sight of the turning point of the 18 Hole Monday playoff for the 1991 championship. Scott Simpson was leading Payne Stewart by 2 strokes with just 3 holes to play. A birdie by Stewart and bogie by Simpson left them all square. Stewart would go on to win The U.S. Open on the final two holes.
In preparation for the 2002 PGA Championship Hazeltine commissioned the Payne Stewart Bridge. The bridge connects the tee complex of this hole with the fairway and commemorates the life of this wonderful man and his contributions to the game of golf.
Ryder Cup #8
The 8th at Hazeltine is a 186 yard Par 3. Like many par 3's this hole is primarily defensed by its challenging green complex. There are several very challenging pin placements on this green that has a lower bowl on the front left. There are two water hazards and four bunkers in play as well. Precise tee shots will be at a premium on the 8th.
Ryder Cup #9
Past champions the likes of Payne Stewart, Tony Jacklin, Billy Casper, Hollis Stacy, Sandra Spuzich, Rich Beem, & YE Yang have all celebrated their Major Championship victories on this green. An iconic hole in Hazeltine's history, the Par Four 9th hole will play 475 yards for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
Although famous for the conclusion of several major championships, this hole is also famous for one of the best to ever play the game, Tiger Woods, claiming that the best shot he has ever hit was on this hole at Hazeltine. It was during the 2002 PGA Championship that Tiger woods Hit a 3 Iron with a very difficult lie, out of the bunker adjacent to #9 fairway, with 20 mph wind, over an enormous tree that separates the 9th and 18th fairways, to 20 feet.
Fittingly, he concluded by also making the putt for a very unexpected birdie.
Ryder Cup #10
A member favorite, this hole is a fantastic fourball golf hole. A dogleg left, this par four plays 452 yards. The fairway drops more than 40 feet in elevation from the center of the fairway to the green complex.
A relatively easy drive favors the left center of the fairway and will most likely only require a 3 wood for most of the world’s best to have a good look at the green. However, if there is a west wind, or the tees are played forward one day, there could be a significant advantage to the long hitters like Dustin Johnson & JB Holmes from team USA. A well placed draw that cuts the corner over the trees will land on the downslope of the fairway and possibly even leave that player just short of the green.
The incredible view from the fairway pairs the 10th green with the 16th green (Ryder Cup #7) on the shores of Lake Hazeltine. The green slopes from front right to back left and a ball that does not spin may roll off the back and into the lake.
Birdie Lane is a street that runs along the north side of the property and the 10th hole. When Hazeltine was being founded, it was decided that all of the surrounding roads would be named after the founders’ wives. Robert Fischer, who introduced Totton Heffelfinger to Robert Trent Jones, was instrumental in the founding of the club. His wife’s name… Birdie: the only street name that would eventually survive, appropriately named, Birdie Lane.
Ryder Cup #11
The Par 5 11th hole is listed at 606 yards. The tee shot is uphill with fairway bunkers at the crest of the hill guarding against an aggressive line trying to cut the corner on this lengthy double dogleg right.
The hole design offers a contour that narrows the remainder of the fairway into somewhat of an hour glass shape with bunkers again requiring precision on both sides of the fairway.
The green complex is large but significantly sloped. Pin position will dramatically affect the strategy of the approach shots. In total the 11th boasts 14 bunkers (tied for most on the course) and two doglegs as its protection.
Hazeltine hosted its first PGA Championship in 2002. As Rich Beem teed off in the final pairing as the leader, he knew he had to play a spectacular round of golf to fend off a charging Tiger Woods. Beem was leading Tiger by one shot when he teed off on the par-5 11th hole. He hammered his drive 333 yards into the middle of the fairway, leaving him 248 yards to the front of the green. He then soared a 5-wood about 270 yards that landed fifteen feet from the hole, leaving him with a five-foot eagle putt that he drained. Rich Beem was the only one in the field to hit that green in two shots all week.
Ryder Cup #12
Widely regarded by the membership as one of the most challenging holes on the course (and the #2 handicap hole) the twelfth is the longest par 4. Playing at 518 yards this demanding par 4 is sandwiched between a 600+ yard par 5 and a par 3 that plays almost 250 yards. This stretch of the course is not only physically demanding, but requires a strong mental game.
The 12th is a dogleg right. The ideal tee shot is left center of the fairway leaving an uphill approach shot that will likely be 200+ yards for several players. The green is elevated and guarded both front right and front left with bunkers. Par is a good score here, but if the course is firm and fast, we could see some big drives out of the world’s best players that may lead to short irons in.
The 2009 PGA Championship was one of the longest in PGA Championship history. Most notably, the par-four 12th hole recorded a record length of 518 yards. The 12th hole was ranked the hardest hold for the week with a scoring average of 4.5 strokes.
Ryder Cup #13
The tee box is surrounded by large mature trees however, soon after the ball leaves the tee box it is open to the elements. The back left pin placement is the most challenging setup to score on this hole. The 6' deep front left bunker is situated just in front of the left water hazard. A player that puts too much draw on the shot will be hoping he finds the bunker. A ball that has too much fade on it will catch the right bunkers or potentially bring the right trees into play.
Ryder Cup #14
The 14th is a Hazeltine Classic! Listed at 448 yards this Par 4 dogleg right is a magnificent golf hole. From the moment you make your club selection on the tee you are bringing in several different possibilities.
The aggressive play is a high cut with a driver that starts just over the right fairway bunkers. This shot has to be played with exact precision to leave you with an approach shot inside 100 yards. If the drive ends up straight or left, the thick rough or even out of bounds is in play. If it slides too far right the mature trees will block out any pathway to the green. Even if you hit a flawless drive you may have a downhill or sidehill lie in the fairway for your approach.
A conservative 3 wood or long iron off the tee short and left will leave a clear and level lie shot into the green. This shot however is one of the most challenging approaches on the golf course. It is likely close to 170 yards out to a very narrow green that is only a few paces wide at the opening and guarded on both sides with deep large bunkers.
In 1999, Hazeltine hosted the men’s NCAA Division I Championships. The Georgia Bulldogs were crowned the team champions and Luke Donald of Northwestern University was the individual champion.
Ryder Cup #15
With water front and left of the green, it would require a very precise driver but again risk/reward can be in play here. We will likely see everything from a 5 iron to driver off the tee throughout the week.
Members give guests the tip of aiming for the "V tree." A shot that lands on that line will hit a fairway that slopes downhill and toward the green and water starting approximately 150 yards from the green.
The 15th has remained essentially unchanged from its original design. In the traditional routing this hole plays as #6.
The back side of this green was the site of a temporary starter shack when the course opened for play in 1962 as the original clubhouse had not yet been completed.
Ryder Cup #16
The 16th will certainly be center stage for the Ryder Cup. The hole is a stadium like setting that is set as a dogleg right. It's likely there may be as many as 20,000 people along the 16th on Sunday afternoon!
A reachable Par 5, the 16th plays 572 yards. A fabulous match play hole, it requires a precise and long drive to afford the opportunity to reach the green in two. Many matches will require this risk/reward decision and exceptional execution will reward the team with a pivotal point in the match play format.
The 16th played as a par 4 during the 1983 U.S. Senior Open, thus setting the golf course as a Par 71.
Ryder Cup #17
The 17th is certain to play a big part in the 2016 matches! It is one of the shortest holes playing just 176 yards, but presents significant opportunity for challenge with a green that is guarded by water short and right and three bunkers on the left.
It's also more famous for its Sunday severity in past Major Championships than it is for its ease. In both the 2002 and the 2009 PGA Championships it effectively took contenders out of the championship.
In 2002 Justin Leonard started Sunday with the lead but after his double bogey here, the championship became a two horse race to the finish with Rich Beem edging out Tiger Woods.
In 2009, the defending champion, Padrig Harrington stepped to the tee just one shot back, however his score of 8 left the tournament again to a two man fight to the finish where Y.E. Yang edged out Tiger Woods as well.
Ryder Cup #18
It is an uphill 432 Yard Par 4 that finishes with an elevated green guarded by bunkers on both sides. This hole can be particularly challenging with winds from the NW.
Watch Members Recollect Past Championship Moments.
Hazeltine National Golf Club is a private golf club located in Chaska, Minn., about 30 minutes southwest of downtown Minneapolis. The club opened in 1962 with a mission to build and maintain a golf course suitable for the conduct of national championships. Hazeltine is one of only two courses in the United States to have hosted the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Amateur, and Ryder Cup. Hazeltine’s meeting and event space, golf shop and specified services in the learning center are open to the public. More information about becoming a member at Hazeltine is available at www.hazeltinenational.com.