The 2015 season has already been full of drama with early wins for Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and two-time Open winner Padraig Harrington. We have seen some stunning courses played so far this year, so let’s take a look at the courses hosting Major Championships this season, the best holes, the toughest challenges and of course some memories from past events.
Augusta National, The Masters tournament, April 9th- 12th
What can we say about Augusta National? Driving through the gates and down Magnolia lane to the famous clubhouse must be one of the most spine-tingling moments in a professional golfer’s career. Walking out onto the first tee knowing you’ll be playing at least 36 holes at a course steeped in history, with beautiful landscape and scenery and facing some of the most famous holes in the game is the dream for any young golfer.
Amen corner, holes 11, 12 and 13, is probably the most difficult part of the course. A treacherous par-4 downhill, with trees to the right off the tee and water to the left of the fast-paced green. A short par-3 over water to a narrow green, with a run-off area at the front and two bunkers, one in front, and one behind. Finally a dog-leg to the left par-5 with a second shot over water. If you can play Amen Corner in level par or better you’ll be on course for a good round of golf.
In 2010, Phil Mickelson played one of the most courageous and gutsy shots you are ever likely to see. After finding the trees from the 13th tee, Mickelson hits his second shot through a small gap in the trees to 8-feet. A shot worthy of the green jacket he went on to win for the 3rd time.
Chambers Bay Golf Club, The U.S Open, June 18th -21st
The 2015 U.S Open is being held in Washington State, at the newly developed Chambers Bay Golf Club, a links course with some very interesting holes.
The first hole is a welcoming par-5 that players will be able to reach in two. A very good birdie opportunity. The 9th hole is very tough looking par-3 that plays at 227-yards downhill. With an additional lower tee box added for the U.S Open this hole will certainly not be an easy one to escape with a par. The driveable par-4 12th hole offers players a good birdie chance, and a chance that may have to be taken with another tough par-4 on the next hole.
This is the first time the course will have held a U.S Open in its history, and it’s sure to be a very interesting week on the links.
St Andrew’s Old Course, The Open Championship, July 16th – 19th
The ‘home of golf’ will be host to this year’s Open Championship. A place that Jack Nicklaus had his final Open Championship as a professional golfer and seen famous wins from Nick Faldo in 1990 and Seve Ballesteros in 1984.
When the wind gets going along the coastline, St Andrew’s can really be a difficult test for anyone in the world of golf. But on a good day, it can be a very rewarding golf course. The course record is a round of 62, shared by Victor Dubuisson, Goerge Coetzee, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood and Louis Oosthuizen. The famous road hole bunker on the 17th hole is something all players will look to avoid, otherwise it will be an extremely tough up and down with no guarantee of making par.
St Andrew’s has seen many great Championships, but how can we forget the 1995 Open Championship at the 72nd hole when Costantino Rocca fluffed his chip into the valley of sin, then make a 65-foot birdie out to force a play-off with eventual winner John Daly. An absolutely astonishing moment at one of the most famous golf courses in the game.
Whistling Straits, The PGA Championship, August 13th- 16th
Whistling Straits, the home of the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championship, is arguably one of the greatest championship courses in the United States.
The course, which is sculpted alongside the Lake Michigan shoreline, offers another tough links test, especially the 4th hole, the longest of the par-4’s. Undulating greens and pot bunkers mean birdies will be tough to find, the main thing for players here is too remain below par. Eight of the holes on the course hug the lake, which makes for good drama when a tee shot is hooked or sliced.
In 2010 Martin Kaymer won his first major championship after beating two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson in a play-off. Kaymer won on the 3rd play-off hole with a bogey putt after Watson found the hazard with his second shot from the rough.
Each course has its own challenges, but with three of the four Majors this year being played on links courses, whoever is going to prosper this season will have to be someone who has good ball control and is used to playing in tricky conditions. We can’t wait for the first Major of the year.