Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Shinnecock Hills is consistently ranked as one of the top courses in the U.S. and the World by Golf Magazine's panel of experts.
William Vanderbilt, Duncan Cryder and Edward Mead first saw the game of golf played while on a winter vacation in France. Upon their return, the trio decided to build a course in the swank Long Island town of Southampton. After asking for assistance from the Royal Montreal Golf Club (the oldest in North America), Willie Davis, Royal Montreal's professional, was given a month's leave from his duties and sent to the Southampton. With the help of 150 Shinnecock Indians from the nearby reservation, a 12-hole course was constructed in 1891. The Shinnecock Hills Golf Club was formally organized that August and became the first such club in the United States.
In 1893 a nine-hole laides-only course was designed and built at Shinnecock Hills and in 1895 Willie Dunn added six more holes to the original course.
From the start, Shinnecock Hills has been admired and studied. The course hosted the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur tournaments in 1896. But in 1901 the popular women's-only Red Course was abandon to allow for a lengthening and redesign of the 18-hole White Course by C.B. MacDonald and Seth Raynor.
When a highway development cut the course in two, another redesign was completed by the team of Toomey and Flynn in 1931. The 7th, 9th and 17th holes designed by MacDonald and Raynor remained as they were, but much of the course known to golf lovers today dates from this era.
A unique aspect of the course is that the longest par 4s generally play downwind while the shorter par 4s play into the wind, which usually blows from the southwest. Because the terrain is so hilly, and the native grasses so thick, Shinnecock Hills is challenging both off the tee and from the fairway. However, many of the tee boxes are elevated in order to give players a clear view of fairway bunkers, sand areas and hazards that must be carried. Shinnecock is hard, but it fair.
The 474-yard, par-4 6th hole features mounds, sand and rough that partial obscure the landing area of the fairway which angles to the right. On the second shot, players must hit uphill and over a pond that sits about 50 yards short and right of the green. A large bunker protects the green short and left of the putting surface. It's not uncommon to see the average player lay-up with his second shot and try to pitch-and-putt his way to a par on this hole.
The 189-yard, par-3 Redan-style 7th hole plays into the prevailing wind, which actually helps most players. Ideally, with the green tilting from front-right to back-left, the ideal tee shot should land softly on the front portion of the green because anything landing on the left portion will feed down to the flat area behind the green.
The uphill, 158-yard par-3 11th hole is very tricky because it plays downwind. The green slopes from back to front, but three of the four greenside bunkers guard the front, so safely hitting a shot that stops in the middle of the putting surface is tough.
The famous clubhouse at Shinnecock Hills, designed Stanford White, sites on top of a hill and is an indelible icon of the club.
Three U.S. Open Championships have been played at Shinnecock Hills in the modern era. In 1986 Raymond Floyd won at the age of 43. In 1995, Cory Pavin hit a famous 4-wood to within six feet of the hole on 18 Sunday to secure his victory, and in 2004 Retief Goosen's amazing putting display overcame some of the most brutal conditions in U.S. Open history. The U.S. Open will return to the course in 2018.