These US Open Greens Are Insane, And Absolutely Brilliant


The greens at The Country Club will wreak havoc with players at this week’s US Open.


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BROOKLINE, Mass. — It took me about five minutes at the Country Club to fall in love with the place. The course is not designed for the US Open, it is the epitome of them. The fairways are narrow, the rough is tall, the shots required to navigate the terrain are awkward, and the greens are absolutely funky, but in the most brilliant way.

It’s not just that the literal size of the greens is small: 4,388 square feet on average, which for reference is almost 1,000 square feet smaller on average than Southern Hills. It’s that the greens themselves are wickedly undulating. Each has a series of drop fronts, funnels, and drop offs that, combined, make the actual acreage at the top of the greens really small.

Harris English will be among those at the US Open hoping to brave The Country Club’s fiendish greens.

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“I didn’t remember this amount of rolling and sloping on the greens,” said Justin Thomas, who played here in the US Amateur in 2013.

The 11th hole, a par 3 that tops out at just over 130 yards, is perhaps the best example. The hole’s only defense is its green, and it’s a good one. Analysis of 3D green data from Golf Logix (an affiliate company of and GOLF Magazine) reveals its challenge: there is literally no flat spot anywhere on the surface, with the entire green sloping back and forth and protected by a false front.

“I think every golf course should have a short, little hole with a devilish green,” Thomas said of the 11. “You can do two or four in a heartbeat.”

Green 11 has a steep slope from back to front.


He talks about a common theme in The Country Club. The green of an earlier hole, one of the two par 5s on the course, has runoff flanking the entire left side and front of the green. There are pin slots front center, middle right, and back right, and not much else.

The slightest glitch left on the 11th will see you roll into the bunker.


The 18th green presents the most severe barrier on the course. The giant slope from back to front of the green will funnel balls to the front of the green where the tournament pins will be, but it will also reduce the effective area of ​​the green to about a third of the size. Hitting the putt will not be the challenge on this hole; first, he will give you one.

The 18th green is effectively just a small strip out front.


As for how to navigate these various threats? That’s the code that players and their coaches are trying to crack in no time. Specifically, it poses some particular challenges.

The first, according to putting coach Stephen Sweeney, who works with several players on tour, is that any player who drops a downhill putt will not only be left with a fast putt, but an unpredictable one. The slower the golf ball rolls along the green, the more susceptible the grain of the grass becomes and potholes begin on the greens.

“The slower the ball rolls, the more it starts to respond more to whatever the grass is doing,” he says.

The latter is particularly important, Sweeney continued. Because the sloping greens mean the actual area of ​​the green that can be nailed is extremely small, the greens will get more trampled as the week goes on. So much so that certain putts could travel in different directions depending on the time of day.

As for how the players are preparing for it? That’s the question we asked GOLF Top 100 maestro Justin Parsons, who teaches a crop of players, including Harris English, who comes into this week’s event thanks to his best third-place finish last year.

For him, the call is reduced to a word.

“Patience,” he said. “The greens are intense, but for players it’s about accepting and embracing that challenge…leaving the ball on the right side of the hole and not forcing it when things don’t go their way.”

This attitude of patience and preparation extends from tee to green, says Parsons. Get the job done early in his practice rounds, trust him through the tournament rounds and he just might be lifting the trophy at the end.

Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role, he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s media platforms.

An alumnus of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort golf team, where he helped them rise to No. 1 in the NAIA national rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to earn her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. . His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast.