It might sound like the name of a cracker company, but Hazeltine is actually a picturesque golf course in Chaska, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.
A private club, it opened in 1962, with a length of 7,678 yards and a par of 72. It has hosted four Majors – the 1970 US Open (Tony Jacklin, -7); the 1991 US Open (Payne Stewart, -66); the 2002 PGA Championship (Rich Beem, -10); and the 2009 PGA Championship (Y.E. Yang, -8).
The weather won’t be a problem, in fact many of the northern Europeans should feel right at home as temperatures are expected to crest around 70 degrees F and get down into the mid-50s at night. There is no chance of rain on any day of the tournament.
Here’s a hole-by-hole preview of Hazeltine in advance of the 2016 Ryder Cup.
#1 Par 4, 442 yards – A common theme at Hazeltine is a pinched drive zone which favors accuracy over length. The wind can be a major factor here as when it’s up, it can limit players’ ability to shoot for the multi-tiered green.
#2 Par 4, 429 yards – A dogleg left means an early birdie chance, although there are new bunkers on the left side of the fairway and the right as well. Bunkers front left of the green mean an off shot is bad news.
#3 Par 5, 633 yards – The first par-5 is a doozy with little patches of obstacles to ruin anyone’s day; among them a thick rough on the right and bunkers on the left. A flat spot makes for a tantalizing layup third shot short of the green for the conservatives in the bunch.
#4 Par 3, 210 yards – It can be a game-changer, as it was for Fuzzy Zoeller and John Inman at the 1991 US Open when each man aced it. The green is surrounded by bunkers and a shelf in the back. Even if you land on the green, the sharp slope might induce a bogey.
#5 Par 4, 352 yards – Once hailed by Billy Casper as the greatest short par 4 in the game, it has a new cross bunker in front of the green that will force most players to make a tough decision on how much risk to take here.
#6 Par 5, 642 yards – The sheer volume of bunkers on this hole are borderline ridiculous, both at the end of the second shot and encircling the green. If the wind is blowing into players’ faces, as it usually does, this one could get messy.
#7 Par 4, 402 yards – The land of 10,000 Lakes (actually there are 11,842) finally delivers one into the course, and boy does it! A creek parallels the flight path of most balls, making it a serious hazard from the opening tee. The green is out on a peninsula and the hole on the far right side of that, making Hazeltine Lake loom even larger than it already is.
#8 Par 3, 186 yards – As picturesque as you’ll ever see, there are bunkers, a narrow stream, and deceptively narrow shelves to absolutely ruin your day.
#9 Par 4, 475 yards – The final hole of the front nine looks like a pickle from overhead and can leave you in one with its three separate elevations on the green.
#10 Par 4, 452 yards – The hole forces you to shoot right, then performs dog leg left to ensure nobody’s getting anything better than a birdie.
#11 Par 5, 606 yards – There are so many bunkers on the final third of the hole, you’d think a truck carrying sand siply crashed here. Rich Beem eagled this at the 2002 PGA Championship to secure his victory. Reaching the green in two seems borderline impossible.
#12 Par 4, 518 yards – There’s no room for error with big bunkers on either side of the green, and three more on the right side of the first landing zone. Already thought mighty tough, the new tee box is 50 yards further from the hole.
#13 Par 3, 248 yards – It’s the hardest Pr 3 here with a pond on the left, trees on the right, and bunkers everywhere else.
#14 Par 4, 448 yards – You can swing for the fences if you want, but you’ll likely land up in a fairway bunker. It’s a secret favorite for habitual fans of the course as it’s near the end of the property and never attracts a big crowd.
#15 Par 4, 405 yards – If you come up short of the green, you can take your pic – sand or water. Neither very appealing.
#16 Par 5, 572 yards – It’s the shortest of the par 5s on the course, but it’s zig-zag approach leaves plenty of players a bit woozy.
#17 Par 3, 176 yards – When the 17th hole is only 176 yards long, you know something’s up: fire-breathing dragon? quicksand? The small green is basically an island surrounded by water and sand. Great attempts have been made here in order to make up for earlier mistakes.
#18 Par 4, 432 yards – If you walk the straight and narrow, you’ve got it made in the shade. If you stop to smell the roses, you should probably bring a rake to get the sand out of your shoes.