Shinnecock Hills has graduated.
One of the USGA’s favorite sites to host its most prestigious championship, the U.S. Open, has grown by nearly 500 yards in length in anticipation of the 2018 event held next June. The Shinnecock of 2004, when Retief Goosen won the U.S. Open, will feel short compared to that of 2018, as 446 yards has been added to the track via 17 new back tees, according to Golfweek.
The Open will still play to a par of 70, but is now stretched to 7,445 yards thanks to those adjustments, the most significant coming at the downhill par-4 14th (now a brutal 519 yards) and the winding par-5 16th (now 616 yards). The latter of the two surrendered birdies to both Phil Mickelson and Goosen as they dueled down the stretch in 2004, but a birdie in 2018 will be much harder to come by, especially facing the prevailing headwind.
It is well known that Shinnecock Hills underwent a restoration in recent years, some of which was even altered to fit USGA standards. That led to the recent conversion of seven acres of fairway into rough. These are the things a course takes on and happily adjusts when the USGA calls it to host golf’s greatest test.