Perry Maxwell, who designed 65-year-old Southern Hills, combined
narrow, thoughtfully contoured fairways with small, tricky
greens, and I fell in love with the place the first time I saw
it. That week, during the '94 PGA, I played the finest golf of
my career and won by six shots.
If a player can bend the ball either way off the tee, he can use
Southern Hills's sloping fairways to his advantage. By my count,
the 14 driving holes call for five straight shots (numbers 2, 4,
13, 15 and 16), five draws (1, 3, 5, 7 and 12) and four fades
(9, 10, 17 and 18). It's also critical to keep the ball below
the hole because almost all the greens slope severely from back
Southern Hills may be understated and traditional, but players
must contend with two elements not usually found at Open venues.
First, the course has Bermuda rough, and a ball hit into that
type of grass tends to sink to the bottom. Second, the hot, hard
wind common to Tulsa this time of year not only dries out the
greens but also seems either to swirl or blow across the holes
at funny angles, making it difficult to judge shots.
Southern Hills is a typical U.S. Open course in that it features
a few killer holes, that is, holes on which par isn't only good,
it's great. Here's my scouting report on all 18 holes, with
extra attention paid to the three killers.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY VICTOR JUHASZ
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY VICTOR JUHASZ Southern exposure The prevailing wind is from the south, as are the strongest gusts.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY VICTOR JUHASZ Hole 2 Two yawning bunkers cover the entire fairway, and it takes a 240-yard carry to get over them--not that easy on a tight hole that sometimes plays into the wind. The second shot is one of the most demanding on the course. Ideally, you would hit a high long-iron that lands softly enough to hold the green because if your ball comes in hot, it can bounce over and run into the creek behind the green.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY VICTOR JUHASZ Hole 18 The drive is tricky because you must fade the ball to end up in a flat spot about 280 yards out, but the water is in play with a driver, so a shot played to the left that doesn't fade could be wet. On the other hand if you overcook a fade, your next shot will be a sideways recovery. A lot of guys will lay back with three-woods and take their chances with a long-iron approach, but being short of the flat spot leaves a severe downhill lie to an uphill green, a really hard shot.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY VICTOR JUHASZ Hole 12 The tee shot is Southern Hills's scariest because you feel as if you're hitting through a tunnel. There's a big bunker on the left, and because of the tree branches you have to hit a draw around it. If you drive into the rough, you must lay up short of the water in front of the green, which turns the hole into a par-5. The second shot--about a six-iron following a good drive--is downhill to a small green, which swings from left to right.
The Poop according to Price
HOLE PAR YARDS
1 4 454 Long tee shot, tricky approach (green slopes
front to back)
2 4 467 A monster, and a will-breaker if you've bogeyed
3 4 408 Play for position here. A layup leaves only a
4 4 368 Birdie hole--if you don't get too cute with your
5 5 642 Longest hole in history of majors. OB left, creek
6 3 175 Go over and you're a goner. Take par and move on
7 4 382 Southern Hills's classic. Right-to-left tee shot
sets up birdie
8 3 225 Toughest par-3. At least a four-iron, even for
9 4 374 Another great dogleg, this one right. Wind swirls
OUT 35 3,495
10 4 374 Should favor left side of fairway. Nasty
11 3 165 Anything left of green rolls to bottom of hill and
12 4 456 Green swings left to right, so best leave is short
13 5 534 Reachable in two. Ponds in front like 13th, 15th
14 3 215 Watch out for OB left and six greenside bunkers
15 4 412 To get close, must go over trap with medium- to
16 4 491 Converted par-5. Reaching top of hill requires
17 4 365 A gem: Two good shots mean birdie. Don't fool
with right pin
18 4 466 Front bunkers leave long blast. Big green often
IN 35 3,478