“If you hit it in the rough, you’re really going to struggle,” Dustin Johnson says. “If you hit it in the rough, you’re just trying to get it down to the front.”
But the big-throated fairway also offers some hope for recovery with a big gambling second shot, “where you can chase one and try to get it up and down from 50 or 60 feet,” Mickelson says.
Even a good drive in the fairway could find some trouble, however.
The landing area slants to the left, and it feeds down to a sidehill lie, which can set you up for a hooked iron into the water — like Lehman’s.
The view from the fairway is knee-bending, of a hill that pitches sharply down toward the green and looks better for sledding than for golf.
The hole bends faintly left to reveal that isthmus, surrounded by a brown lake on three sides, where the pin sits. Its neatly edged banks have been shaved smooth, and are pockmarked on the right side by a set of shallow white bunkers. Now comes the long-iron second shot, of about 210-230 yards, and with it a moment of decision: How aggressively to go at the green?
Most players, depending on conditions, will have anything from a 4-iron to a 7-iron for their approach.
“We wanted to put a mid to long iron in their hands, and to make that second shot something they really have to think about,” Davis said.
The green sits at an angle, which could bait some players into an overly aggressive shot that winds up in the moat. Things could get splashy. On the other hand, it may also invite excessive caution. Laying up short, playing too timidly, could make for a very difficult par, especially if the pin is set back left, as it is likely to be Sunday, with a long ridge to deal with.
After all of that, Davis and the USGA hope the bottom line is, “If you execute properly, you’re rewarded.”