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Another Chance at the U.S. Open for Phil Mickelson and Shinnecock Hills
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Another Chance at the U.S. Open for Phil Mickelson and Shinnecock Hills

Shinnecock, which opened in 1891, is one of the five founding members of the U.S.G.A. in 1894, and it hosted the second Open in 1896. This will be the club’s fifth national championship and first since 2004. But in a sign of how beloved this wind-swept, timeless classic is, the U.S.G.A already has committed another Open here in 2026.

Preparations for this Open began in earnest in 2012 when the club hired the design firm of Coore & Crenshaw. With aerial photos from 1938 and an archive of black-and-white photos as a road map, architects Bill Coore and the two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw enlarged Shinnecock’s greens, cleared scrub brush and removed several hundred trees so that golfers can see 15 of the 18 holes standing on the first tee.

The club also expanded the width of the fairways to as much as 65 yards, and added length. Shinnecock in 2004 was the last Open to be played at less than 7,000 yards. With Davis’s input, new tees were added to holes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 14, 16 and 18, stretching the yardage on the official scorecard this week to measure 7,440 yards for the par 70 layout.

“We didn’t add distance just to add distance,” Davis said. “We really wanted to bring the shot value back to what Flynn had designed in the late 1920s. So we looked at each drive zone and said, ‘What would it take to get the drive zone back into play?’ We now have that again.”

Davis has come to depend on the average touring pro offering a cacophony of complaints on an Open course set up as an examination of par. But last year, after players grumbled about the length and thickness of the rough at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, the U.S.G.A. took the unusual measure of cutting some of the fescue on the course after heavy rains made them too penal.

“Really? We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” said McIlroy when told during his pretournament news conference that the rough had been trimmed. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here, if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

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