Cows, European form, re-routing, good omens? Ahead of The 2016 Ryder Cup, RyderCup.com profiles host venue Hazeltine National and brings you a selection of little-known facts about the historic Minnesota course.
1. It has the two longest holes in Ryder Cup history
It might not quite be the longest overall course in the storied history of the biennial clash – at a heady 7,628 yards it still falls 30 yards short of Medinah Country Club in 2012 – but Hazeltine does feature no fewer than three par fives measuring in excess of 600 yards. In addition to the 606-yard 11th, the third hole comes in at a gargantuan 633 yards, while the sixth is an even-more staggering 642 yards – making it the longest hole in Ryder Cup history by 24 yards and relegating the ninth hole at Gleneagles to third place in the all-time long list.
2. It used to be tough to break 80 around here
When Hazeltine hosted the US Open back in 1970, nearly half the field failed to break 80 during the first round and the course received a fair amount of backlash as a result – none more vociferous than that of runner-up Dave Hill, who speculated that the only thing missing were “80 acres of corn and a few cows.” There were substantial renovations made as a result by designer Robert Trent Jones Snr and USGA President Reed Mackenzie and the formerly-scornful Hill returned to the club and declared the alterations an unqualified success.
3. The course has almost unparalleled major championship pedigree
Hosting this titanic transatlantic tussle for a first time in 2016, Hazeltine becomes just the second course to have hosted the US Open, the US PGA, the US Women’s Open, the US Amateur and now The Ryder Cup. The other? Pinehurst.
4. Tiger Woods held his last 54-hole Major championship lead here
Not only did YE Yang secure the first Major victory for an Asian-born golfer here back in 2009, there was another piece of history made at Hazeltine seven years ago. The US PGA of that year was the first time Tiger Woods failed to win after holding a 54-hole lead at a Major. It also remains the American’s last 54-hole lead at a Major.
5. The course has been re-routed for The Ryder Cup
Of the numerous changes, additions, and tweaks made to Hazeltine for this year’s Ryder Cup, the most significant sees an almost wholesale re-routing of the layout which will see the first to the fourth holes and the 14th to the 18th comprising the front nine and the tenth to the 13th and fifth to ninth holes making up the back nine. The changes see the better viewing holes for spectators move to the back nine and also bring holes 15-18 closer to the new 50,000-square foot clubhouse.
6. Team Europe has Hazeltine form
In the aforementioned US PGA of 2009, held here at Hazeltine, a third of the 2016 European Ryder Cup side finished inside the top ten: Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy (tied third) and Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson (tied sixth). Incidentally, two of the USA’s 12-man side finished in the top ten that week – Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson. Darren Clarke’s vice captain Padraig Harrington also finished tied tenth here seven years ago so perhaps the Irishman might have a few pearls of course info to pass onto the troops too.
7. The course was originally named ‘The Executive Golf Club’
When it first opened in 1962 the course was not, as it is today, called Hazeltine National, but ‘The Executive Golf Club’. The club was originally intended to be the first of a series of Executive Golf Clubs around the country but the name, with its ostentatious connotations, was not well received and the other courses never materialised. The course was renamed Hazeltine National in honour of Lake Hazeltine, which borders the course.
8. Hazeltine has seen a number of previous European successes
In addition to Tony Jacklin’s famous seven-shot victory here back in the 1970 US Open, there have been two other notable European wins at Hazeltine in the last 20 years. Then a Northwestern Wildcats golfer, four-time Ryder Cup player Luke Donald won the individual championship when Hazeltine hosted the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship back in 1999. Seven years later, three-time European Tour winner Richie Ramsay prevailed at Hazeltine as the Scot returned triumphant in the 2006 US Amateur here. Good omens for Team Europe?