2017 US Women's Open
Four holes to watch at Trump National Golf Club
by M. James Ward
The US Women's Open returns to the Garden State for the first time since 1987
when Plainfield CC hosted the event which was won by Englishwoman Laura Davies
in a three-person playoff.
The 72nd version is being hosted by Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ and will be contested on the Old Course which opened in 2004. The Tom Fazio layout is massive site -- with over 500 acres of land and includes a second 18-hole course.
The course is manicured to the max for this week's event and the density of the rough on nearly every hole is consistent and often times deep in spots. The putting surfaces are also varied and feature an array of contours and falloffs which will place at a premium approach play.
The Women's Open marks the 3rd USGA National Championship conducted at the facility. The club will also serve as host to the 2022 PGA Championship.
6th hole / 407 yards / Par-4
The 6th commences from an elevated tee. Finding the fairway is crucial in order to execute the approach with the right trajectory and distance. Several fairway bunkers protect the more advantageous right side. The putting surface is flanked by water on three sides with an opening to run the ball onto the green should circumstances require doing so.
The green is extremely large and being able to properly flight one's ball to get close to the hole will play a pivotal role in order to avoid costly three-putts. When the pin is placed in the far left or right corners it will require a deft ability to take on the challenge.
Birdies are possible -- so are bogeys or worse for those too aggressive in their execution.
10th Hole / 411 Yards / Par-4
The starting hole for the inward half of holes presents a demanding tee shot. The hole includes a blind landing area and being able to align oneself and execute with confidence is crucial. Players who favor the left side of the fairway will be left with a much easier approach than those finding the right side.
A massive greenside bunker protects the right side and must be avoided.
The pin can be placed in the very front or in the rear right side. Those missing the green will be pressed to make par. The 10th can be the hole which propels players to finish strongly. Conversely, those players unable to execute soundly will find the 10th is quick to accomodate their exit from contention.
16th Hole / 162 Yards / Par-3
The 16th is one of the most photographed holes at Trump National. Played to a green over a frontal pond the need for total precision and execution commitment is central to any type of success.
Any front pin placement is just a few paces from a watery grave for those mishitting or misclubbing one's approach. Just a few years ago course owner and now President of the United States Donald Trump opted to remove flanking front bunkers. This has simply meant the water coming ever so nearer to the green.
Given its position on the course it's highly likely the 16th will play a major role in separating the contenders from the pretenders. Look for the pin to be placed in the front right section for either the 3rd or final round. Should any real wind be blowing you can expect plenty of lumps in the throat of the competitors hoping to land on terra firma. The back left area features a high brow and any shot that comes into the green with any sort of pace without necessary spin can easily runoff to the left and awaiting rough.
18th / 522 Yards / Par-5
The closing hole provides a wide range of scoring outcomes. Strong players with favorable wind conditions can get to the green in two strokes but the risk will be a stout one as the same water hazard that impacts play at the 16th once again occupies center stage here.
The drive area is flanked by two fairway bunkers and they must be avoided.
There is also a solitary bunker on the left side of the hole -- specifically located to catch players who pull their second shots too far to the left.
The putting surface is aligned in a similar manner to what was experienced at the 10th. A frontal pin placement can be just as demanding as one placed in the far right rear area.
Given the potential swing of shots -- the 18th will likely have final word in determining what golfer hoists the '17 US Women's Open trophy.
Images courtesy of the USGA