Top U.S. golfers will play Hazeltine this summer to prep for Ryder Cup
Most of America's top golfers will likely come through Minnesota for a round or two at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska this summer.
That's still a relative unknown.
U.S. Captain Davis Love III said it would be beneficial for all of America's players to swing through Minnesota at least once this summer in preparation for this fall's 2016 Ryder Cup.
"Jack Nicklaus had a little chat with them back at his house in March and said we just need to be prepared," Love said during a teleconference on Wednesday. "We're going to go up there as many times as they want to go. ... If some guys need one (round) or some guys need two or three (rounds), we'll do that. We're going to make it available to them, make it easy for them."
Love gave a scouting report of Hazeltine, describing its long par 3s, long par 5s and greens that sit high in the middle and pitch toward the back. He said it's not the type of course where you can go in blind with nothing but a yardage book in hand.
"You need to have played it and come up with 'Alright here's how I'm going to play these dogleg holes, how am I going to play these long par-3s if the greens are soft? If the greens are firm?" Love said. "Come up with a game plan."
Players will have time to play practice rounds on the course when they arrive the week of the Ryder Cup in late September. But Love hopes to have some type of strategy mapped out before then. Love said he and vice captains such as Tom Lehman and Steve Stricker will play Hazeltine often this summer.
"That way we know how to match guys up a little bit better, as well," Love said. "Once a guy sees it a couple times and says 'I really feel good with my driver on this course,' or a guy says 'I really feel good putting these greens,' then we can match up the pairings on that, as well."
Love has already spoken to a few players about coming to Minnesota to prepare, most notably U.S. Ryder Cup points leader Jordan Spieth. Love said there are two or three guys who might be here right now if the course were ready, but that's not the case in Minnesota.
"We're thinking it's going to be the end of May before the course is really in enough shape for us to make it worth our while," Love said. "It's like it's not really worth going to Augusta to play a practice round in December or January, because it's not what the course is going to be like in April. So we need to wait on the golf course just a little bit."
Most golfers aren't overly familiar with Hazeltine, but it's not an unknown. The course has hosted two PGA Championships and a U.S. Amateur Championship, which Rickie Fowler played in, since 2002. And Love said the lack of course knowledge is common with courses picked for U.S. Opens and PGAs. Players have to make time in their schedules to get added practice rounds in at those courses, as well.
"We're used to doing that," Love said. "These guys are pros with very professional caddies now, so it doesn't take them long. ... We really don't need to go over there four or five times. We might need only one or two practice rounds."
That's a commitment the players Love has talked to seem prepared to make.
"They're treating it like a major championship," he said. "They want to get in, they want to get some work done."
This article was written by Jace Frederick from St. Paul Pioneer Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.