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Changes at Hazeltine – Back Nine

Posted Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 12:58 pm GMT -6 in Golf

Yesterday we looked at the front nine at Hazeltine National – today it’s time to look at the finishing holes at the famed Chaska course.

I like both nines at Hazeltine, but the back usually gets all of the attention, with the stunning lake views on the tenth and sixteenth holes getting well-justified acclaim. Let’s take a look:

Hole 10, Par 4, 452 Yards
Hazeltine10th
When you stand on the tee at the tenth, you don’t get the full scenic impact until you walk up to your ball for the second shot. I’ve never been in the “A” position at the corner of the dog-leg left, but was very happy to find the left rough cleared out last time I played this hole. During another round, I was only a few feet off the fairway, but the rough was thick enough to make it difficult to advance back to the fairway, let alone hit the green, which lies significantly downhill from the landing area. Tough green to putt.

Changes: Fairway regraded, creating a swale for visibility of the fairway bunkers from the new back tees (approximately 40 yards added), right fairway bunker enlarged, new bunker added, fairway narrowed.

Hole 11, Par 5, 606 Yards
Hazeltine11th
If you thought number three was a long par five, along comes eleven at 606 yards. I’m not sure if the hole is really uphill that much, but it seems like it to me. Lots of bunkers all over and I remember being just a few feet off the fairway on this hole once and almost breaking my wrists trying to advance the ball out of the rough. Rich Beem hitting this green in two and making an eagle during the 2002 PGA seems like a miracle to me (he was the only one to do it all week).

Changes: re-established a bunker front center to green that probably takes away the shot Beem hit in 2002.

Hole 12, Par 4, 518 Yards
Hazeltine12th
Remember yesterday when I said the par five seventh hole played 518 yards during the 1991 U.S. Open and that it could be a par four today? Welcome to today. The new back tee on this already tough hole sits at exactly 518 yards. During my last round, the dog-leg right twelfth played around 420 yards. There is also a pond on the right that is really only in play for people like me.

Changes: New back tee extends hole 50 yards, gold and blue tees moved left, white and red tees shifted forward and left, fairway bunker added to the front of the right fairway bunker complex (old complex too far away from new back tee), fairway narrowed on both left and right.

Hole 13, Par 3, 248 Yards
Hazeltine13th
Longest par three on the course is always a challenge for me. With my game, the smartest play is usually to lay-up, which means I stay out of the pond on the left and out of the trees on the right. I need to chip it close, though, as hitting the wrong part of the green can create some very long putts. Made par last time out.

Changes: Right greenside bunker lengthened and moved closer to the green.

Hole 14, Par 4, 352 Yards
Hazeltine14th
The shortest par four on the course, the fourteenth tempts you to hit driver through the narrow opening of trees off the tee, but the green is well protected by bunkers and elevation changes. I made par on this hole last time, but I seem to recall it was by scrambling from the trees on the left and making a long putt.

Changes: none.

Hole 15, Par 5, 642 Yards
Hazeltine15th
OK, so I thought three and eleven were long par fives. Fifteen is actually the longest at 642 yards and features a multitude of bunkers and an elevated green. This is also the hole one lucky person in our group discovered you can slice a ball off a downward-left lie. Windows crashing isn’t just a computer term, it turns out…

Changes: new left fairway bunker in landing area, fairway narrowed.

Hole 16, Par 4, 402 Yards
Hazeltine16th
The signature hole – that sums it up. I’ve always felt this hole was the odd one out, with a totally different feel from the rest of the course. It’s such a great hole, though – one you look forward to all round. And the history: the Payne Stewart bridge, Rich Beem’s long putt, etc. It’s an intimidating tee shot, to be sure, but I played it exactly the way I wanted to last time – fairway hit, green in regulation, two putt par. Watched most of the final round in 2002 from the hill next to the tee.

Changes: none.

Hole 17, Par 3, 182 Yards
Hazeltine17th
I’ve heard some criticism of the seventeenth hole, but I’ve always thought it was a beautiful, challenging par three. The green has two levels and I remember last time how hard it was to putt from one level to the other. The water shouldn’t be in play (famous last words).

Changes: none.

Hole 18, Par 4, 475 Yards
Hazeltine18th
It’s a long way home on eighteen and it’s all uphill. This hole always seemed a little harder to me than the ninth, but maybe it’s just because it’s not as straight and you don’t see the green until your second shot. A good drive along the right can catch a ridge that gives you more yardage, but I always seem to miss that spot. My last scorecard says I made bogey with a two-putt, so I must not have been in too much trouble.

Changes: new member tee, fairway bunkers on both left and right restructured with additional bunker on the right towards the green. The “Tiger” bunker on the left side was rebuilt but the “Tiger” portion of the bunker remains the same. Green-side bunkers between 9 and 18 were one massive bunker. The bunkers were broken to be 9 and 18 specific in play.

Golfing in Minnesota will be on the grounds all next week providing coverage of the 91st PGA Championship. Come back and visit us!

Originally published by DK on August 5, 2009 at 12:58 pm

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