Former USGA president Totton P. Heffelfinger founded Hazeltine National Golf Club in the early 1960s and Robert Trent Jones was commissioned to design a high quality course for the Midwest capable of holding a national championship. Hazeltine opened for play in 1962 and only eight years later the club hosted the 1970 US Open. In cold windy conditions Englishman and reigning British Open champion Tony Jacklin triumphed easily.
Hazeltine National was modified by Rees Jones (son of RTJ) ahead of the 1991 US Open which turned into a historic battle between Scott Simpson and Payne Stewart. The championship went to a play-off the next day and Payne Stewart came from behind to win his first US Open title.
The PGA Championship was hosted at Hazeltine in 2002 and it was one of the most memorable events in the history of the PGA. On the par five 15th hole during the final round Tiger Woods launched a charge, posting the first of four closing birdies. Rich Beem held off the rampaging Tiger to claim his first Major, winning by a single shot, but Tiger’s charge constituted perhaps the most exciting finish in PGA Championship history.
The 2009 PGA Championship returned to Hazeltine National and it was a tournament that the whole world expected Tiger Woods to win with ease. Woods had not won a major in 2009 and the world No.1 had a four-shot cushion at the halfway stage. Eight times Woods has led a major at halfway and eight times he has gone on to win. Woods lead had been cut to two shots from South Korea’s Yang Yong-Eun after day three. Against all odds, the South Korean easily outplayed Tiger Woods in the final round winning by three clear shots becoming the first Asian-born male winner of a major championship.
Hazeltine’s signature hole is the 16th, a 396-yard par four that requires skill and nerve. Lake Hazeltine guards the left hand side of the hole and a creek lurks menacingly to the right whilst the distant green beckons perched on a jutting peninsula that is surrounded by water.
Hazeltine National Golf Club was once more in the spotlight when the club played host to the thrilling 2016 Ryder Cup. In 2028 Hazeltine will become the first American venue to host the Ryder Cup for a second time.
Hazeltine is a good championship course, but I wouldn't describe it as spectacular. Ranking it in the top 5 in Minnesota seems a little off for me, but I tend to prefer interesting/quirky courses to challenging courses. That is not to say there aren't some interesting holes. I like the way that holes 9 and 18 play alongside one another up a hill to the clubhouse. Both par 4s are more uphill than it appears on TV, and have some interesting greens. The backside (of the typical routing, not the Ryder cup routing) has some excellent holes. Hole 10 is my favorite on the course. It is a fun dogleg left that has a huge elevation drop to a green perched along Lake Hazeltine. The drive is strategic and asks the golfer whether they should lay up on top of the hill, or try to cut the corner and get down closer to the green. Hole 14 is a very good short par 4 that is probably the best hole on the course strategy wise, and No. 15 is a well bunkered par 5 with an infinity green overlooking the lake. Hole 16 is the hole that everyone knows and is highlighted on TV whenever the course hosts a tournament. It is a short little par 4 that doglegs just slightly to the right, and the green is on a little peninsula jutting out into the lake. It is a picturesque hole that plays nearly as well as it looks.
My main criticism of the course is that the land is mostly featureless, and many of the holes are just not that memorable. The front side is rather bland, and features a lot of unnecessary water that is typical of the RTJ family tree of architecture. There is also an overabundance of doglegs, and it seems like every par 4 moves significantly in one direction or another.
Hazeltine is a great asset to the area as its mission is to be a major tournament venue. However, there are many other courses in Minnesota that I prefer.
I was able to,play Hazeltine National several years ago. I found the course difficult and challenging but there not a lot of distinctiveness to the holes. I agree that 10 and 16 are two of the best and most memorable holes ones the course. You get the sense that the course is favored as a major championship venue not so much by it's quality but due to the fact that it sits on a massive expanse of land that can accommodate the extra curricular activities that a major championship demands.
Richard Smith, Knoxville Tennessee
I have both played and covered all of the key events hosted by the club since the 1991 US Open and most recently with the '16 Ryder Cup Matches. Hazeltine is a testing layout but from a pure architectural side of the equation is fairly mundane. The layout has been fortified since its inception as a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. layout. Rees Jones touched up the course considerably and while the course is not contrived it just simply fails to inspire when there.
There are instances when it does very well -- I am a big fan of the downhill par-4 10th with Lake Hazeltine in the background. The most noted hole -- the dangerous par-4 16th -- is one of the best holes Rees has ever created. There's plenty of risk/reward and having the green protrude deeper into the Lake makes for a thrilling adventure indeed.
Hazeltine has been lengthened considerably to deal with the onslaught of talent from the world's best players but the richness in architectural detail is lacking more often than not.
The 9th and 18th holes were flipped for the Ryder Cup Matches but candidly the holes offer nearly the same in terms of shotmaking requirements. The footprint for the facility is more than sufficient to be a continued host for big time events and the turnout from the local folks in Minnesota has always been super supportive.
Hazeltine has certainly come a long ways from its first foray into the main frame of world golf when hosting the 1970 US Open -- won by Englishman Tony Jacklin and panned by a number of American professionals -- notably Dave Hill. Hazeltine fills the checklist for the key ingredients needed when hosting big time events but the feelings engendered are more aligned with a wink and nod and far from a genuine embrace encapsulating rapture.
by M. James Ward
Played the course in May, prior to the Ryder Cup. Could certainly tell that they were growing the course out in certain areas. Wasn't in the best of shape, but the layout is truly challenging and very entertaining. Playing the course at a shorter length took some of the fun out of the layout - I'd suggest teeing it up a little farther back at the detriment of your own score to see the full course.
Hazeltine is certainly the best known of the two. Named for the lake on which it sits, the course was founded in 1962 by Totton Heffelfinger, whose ultimate goal was to host a national championship in Minnesota. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and hosted a U.S. Open in 1970, which brought it plenty of negative press when competitors such as Dave Hill said, “The only thing that Hazeltine is missing is 80 acres of corn and a few cows.”
Hazeltine is a golf-only club – no tennis, no swimming pool. Every hole is a strong test of golf. I have played it several times and have several friends who are members. My favorite holes are the holes in which water comes into play. Number 7 is a par 5 with a pond fronting the green. Number 8, is a beautiful par 3 with water on both the front and right side of the green. The 10th and 16th greens jut out into Lake Hazeltine. Number 10 is a severe dogleg left that tumbles down the hill to a green that sits on the lake. Number 16 is the signature hole, formerly a par 3, now converted to a par 4, with the green sitting on its own peninsula on Lake Hazeltine. Larry Berle.