There’s not one good reason why they call the 500-yard home hole on the Pete Dye-designed Straits Course “Dyeabolical”—there are lots of them. From the snaking fairway to the meandering creek to the sprawls of sand, danger lurks literally at every turn. At the 2007 U.S. Senior Open, Argentina’s Eduardo Romero admitted that when he stepped to the tee his “hands start shaking.” For others, the experience has been more stomach-turning. “It’s a joke,” Fuzzy Zoeller said of the hole. “There’s nothing good about it.” This year the closer could provide even more fireworks, thanks to an expanded fairway that will tempt players to pull driver and challenge the bunkers up the left. Here’s a look at what the field will face—and fear.
Once resembling a cross, the green has been reduced and now looks more like a figure 8. Dye replaced the back-left prong with a tight chipping area, while the front-right prong has been shrunk by 75 percent. Still, it’s no snooze—four lobes spoke out at odd angles and a ridge bisects the putting surface.
THE RISKY ROUTE
Players now have a dramatic risk-reward option off the tee: a secondary portion of the fairway that is a 300-plus-yard carry beyond the bunkers. Drives that fly the junk will scamper down a slope and leave anywhere from an 80- to 120-yard approach. “It provides alternatives and a level of excitement that wasn’t there before,” says Whistling Straits founder Herb Kohler. “The player can now pull out his driver and use it to the full extent.”
THE SAFE SIDE
The “upper” fairway is flatter than it was in ’04 and the back tee box has been raised, so players can now see the entire landing zone. Depending on the wind and tee position, some players will hit an iron to prevent their drives from running through the fairway.
HORROR STORIES: A brief gut-wrenching history of the Straits’ home hole
John Daly, 1st round, 2004 PGA Championship
Needing a strong showing to secure a place on the Ryder Cup team, Daly’s prospects imploded with a quadruple-bogey at this, his ninth hole of the day. After pulling a 2-iron off the tee into a horrid lie in a bunker, he gouged his second shot just past the creek into a tangled mess of rough. With his next attempt, JD advanced the ball just a few feet. “No. 18 really crushed me,” he said.
Justin Leonard, 4th round, 2004 PGA Championship
Following a solid drive, Leonard hit a 5-iron from 204 yards. “When I hit the shot, I thought I had just ended the golf tournament,” said Leonard, who needed just a par to win his second major title. Instead, his approach landed a few feet short of the target and settled into a grassy hollow next to a greenside bunker. After failing to get up and down, he went on to lose to Vijay Singh in a playoff.
Eduardo Romero, 2nd round, 2007 U.S. Senior Open
Romero, the first-round leader, blocked his drive into a bunker on the right, leaving him 185 yards to the green. With his stance on a drain, he received a free drop outside the hazard. It didn’t help. The Argentine yanked his second shot into a fairway bunker on the left and dumped his third into Seven Mile Creek before two-putting for a 7. Gloated El Gato: “I make a good triple-bogey.”