Just as in 2007, Oakmont’s 484-yard par-4 18th (below) will be pivotal in determining the U.S. Open champion this month. Most courses have at least one long, rough-encased brute. Here’s how to make a good score on the scariest par 4s, courtesy of Oakmont’s director of instruction and Top 100 Teacher, Eric Johnson.
1. GO LARGE…VERY LARGE
DRIVER’S YOUR FRIEND ON LONG HOLES
Let that puppy fly! It feels great to grip it and rip it, and every yard counts here. Proven speed keys: Maintain your address posture, try to create more arm swing through impact, and always finish your backswing.
2. KEEP PAR IN YOUR POCKET
HEY, MISTAKES HAPPEN—DON’T COMPOUND THEM
Miss the fairway and you’ll kiss your birdie chances goodbye. That’s okay—you can still notch a good score, but only if you make the smart move. When you find rough or a fairway bunker off the tee, play a stress-free wedge back to safety. Then lean on your mid-irons to get you on the green for a look at par. And heck, a bogey on a hole like this feels like a 4.
3. PROTECT YOUR SCORE
SAFE CAN BE SANE
Use a hybrid or a middle iron off the tee to turn a long par 4 into short par 5. Sexy? No, but hitting the fairway takes a big number out of play. The only danger is coming up short of the green on your third shot, so take a half club more on your approach. Then smile for the cameras.