ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) -- A hole-by-hole look at Merion Golf Club, site of the 113th U.S. Open to be played June 13-16:
No. 1, 350 yards, par 4: For guests, this can be one of the most intimidating opening tee shots in golf because the teeing ground is right next to the clubhouse patio, where the clinking of tea cups goes to dead silence when a player stands over his shot. Maybe not for the U.S. Open. This likely will be an iron off the tee, which leaves a wedge to the green. A sycamore tree to the right might keep players from trying to drive the green. A dozen bunkers line the final 100 yards into the green. It's a gentle opening hole.
No. 2, 556 yards, par 5: The fairway has been shifted to the right to tighten the landing area, and it brings in out-of-bounds to the right. The left side features some of the thickest rough on the course. For the second shot, players can try to reach the green or lay up short of a cross bunker about 35 yards in front of the green. The putting surface is relatively flat. A good tee shot brings birdie or even eagle into the equation.
No. 3, 256 yards, par 3: Two tee boxes will be used, measuring 219 yards and 256 yards. The green slopes severely from back left to front right, and it is surrounded by bunkers. One of them short and right of the green is one of the deepest at Merion. The toughest recovery is anything left of the green.
No. 4, 628 yards, par 5: The U.S. Open last year at Olympic didn't have a par 5 until the 16th hole. This year at Merion, the par 5s will be out of the way after four holes. It's the eighth time in nine years the U.S. Open has had a hole of at least 600 yards. A new tee box brings the fairway bunkers into play. It will be tough to keep the drive in the fairway because the landing area slopes from right-to-left. For the second shot, players can't see over a cross bunker. The green is fronted by a creek, increasing the risk of going for the green in two. The putting surface slopes from back left to front right.
No. 5, 504 yards, par 4: One of the most demanding driving holes, it bends hard to the left with a stream running down the left side of the entire hole, and the fairway slopes to the left. The approach can be bounced onto the green, which is the most severely sloped on the course. The worst place to be is right of the green, for that leads to exceptionally fast putts.
No. 6, 487 yards, par 4: Another long par 4 features a partially blind tee shot over a crest to a bowl-shaped fairway. The green is pitched from back left to the front, and the tricky part is a false front. The options are to run the approach onto the green or fly it to the middle of the green.
No. 7, 360 yards, par 4: This starts a stretch of five holes that are all under 375 yards and could be the place to pick up birdies. Most players will opt for a long iron off the tee to a partially blind, angled landing area. A tee shot too far to the right will flirt with out-of-bounds and overhanging trees. The large green is slightly elevated and has three levels, with a sharp drop-off to the left that will make for a tough up-and-down.
No. 8, 359 yards, par 4: This will be another long iron or fairway metal to a curved landing area with thick native grass on both sides of the fairway. That leaves a wedge to a small green protected by deep rough and a large bunker in the front. The green has several contours and slopes from back left to front right. Par is difficult for those missing the green. The tees could be moved up one round to give players a risky option of driving the green.
No. 9, 236 yards, par 3: This plays downhill to a green shaped like a kidney, with ragged bunkers on both sides and water in front and to the right of the green. It could be about a 6-iron for front hole locations, and long irons to carry the left bunker when the hole location is back and to the left.