The US Open this year is sure to be a memorable one. With a competitive field and plenty of exciting storylines in recent tournaments, the US Open is going to be one for the books. This year, the historic competition takes place at Oakmont Country Club located outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the most prestigious golf courses in America.
The course itself has been around for 113 years and has hosted eight US Opens in the past, with this year’s being the ninth time the event has come to Oakmont. Oakmont has also played host to some of the most memorable moments in golf, like the 1962 emergence of Jack Nicklaus in his first professional major win. And the course is not afraid to punish players: in 1973, after Johnny Miller shot the lowest recorded score in US Open history, the United States Golf Association set up the course to be absolutely brutal.
Ranked one of the five best courses by Golf Digest year after year, Oakmont is unique for the fact that it practically has no water hazards or trees. However, there are nearly 200 bunkers littering the golf course to test the accuracy and punish errors. Because of the prevalence of bunkers, the USGA consistently names Oakmont one of the toughest courses in the United States. Of particular note are the Church Pews bunker, which can be found on holes 3 and 4. This bunker is a massive 400 square yards, measuring 100 by 40.
The links style of the course challenges virtually every aspect of a golfer’s game. While most of us will never find ourselves in a competition at Oakmont Country Club, there are some general tips you can follow if you play on a links layout.
1) Master bunker shots
Since bunkers are one of the major hazards you have to watch out for, chances are you’ll find yourself in the sand. Bunker shots on links courses are especially difficult as the walls on some of these bunkers can be extremely steep. If you find yourself in a deep bunker, take a wedge and simply set yourself up for your next shot. Sometimes with these deep bunker shots there is simply no way to advance the ball forward. In this scenario, just get out of the bunker even if that means shooting away from the hole.
2) Get the ball on the ground when it comes to the approach
Bump-and-run shots on a links course are key when it comes to your short game. For the most part, getting the ball on the ground and letting it roll to the pin is much more reliable than trying to put the ball in the air and spin it. Your 7-iron and 8-iron will be especially helpful, so work on these clubs ahead of time and save your low spinner wedge shots unless it is needed.
3) Keep it in the Fairway
While accuracy is always important, when it comes to links courses you need to hit the fairway. The rough might not have trees like a traditional course, but the rough is far more penalizing than on most regular golf courses. Choose the club that gets it out there and gives you the most accuracy. In some cases, you may want to add a 2 iron to your bag for the week or a driving iron.
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