Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

US Open: your hole-by-hole guide to the Congressional Country Club

The second major of the golf calendar tees off in Bethesda, Maryland tomorrow. Here’s our course guide for this year’s US Open.

FOR THE FIRST time since Ernie Els’ victory in 1997, the US Open returns to the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland this year.

It only costs a cool $150,000 to sign up for membership at Congressional but, thanks to the helpful people over at, we’ve managed to get our hands on some birds-eye shots of the course’s monstrous fairways and challenging greens.

Here’s your hole-by-hole guide to the Blue Course.

US Open: your hole-by-hole guide to the Congressional Country Club
1 / 18
  • Hole 1: 402 Yards (Par 4)

    The opening hole, a slight dogleg-left par 4, provides an early opportunity for birdie. A driver is not required on this relatively short hole and bunkers guard the right side of the tee-shot landing area. Regardless of the club played from the teeing ground, players will hit short irons into a green that is relatively large by Congressional standards and is guarded by bunkers at the front and back right. The green surface is relatively flat, which should allow players to be a bit more aggressive with their putting.
  • Hole 2: 233 Yards (Par 3)

    The longest par 3 on the course will almost certainly play the toughest for the week and begins a difficult three-hole stretch. The green is relatively small for the length of the hole and is protected by six bunkers. A ridge runs through the center of the putting surface, which slopes from back left to front right. A 3 is an excellent score for the hole.
  • Hole 3: 466 Yards (Par 4)

    A new U.S. Open teeing ground creates a slight dogleg left and adds roughly 10 yards to this par 4. The fairway has been shifted to the right to bring the bunkers in the drive zone into play for the tee shot. The mid-iron approach shot is to a large, slightly elevated green flanked by two bunkers on the left and a pair of pot bunkers on the right. The triangular green pitches from back to front, making any miss long a challenging recovery.
  • Hole 4: 470 Yards (Par 4)

    A new U.S. Open teeing ground makes this hole play roughly 40 yards longer than it did for the 1997 U.S. Open. The fairway has been shifted to the left to create a sharper dogleg. The mid-iron approach is to a green that slopes severely from back to front and bunkers await shots that come up short. The green is one of the most challenging on the course, making par a very good score.
  • Hole 5: 413 Yards (Par 4)

    Players will typically hit something less than driver off the teeing ground to reach the crest of the hill at the corner of this dogleg left. The ability to curve the ball right to left will certainly assist a player in hitting this narrow, bending fairway. The green slopes from left to right and shots that miss to the right will likely find a closely mown collection area. If played properly, this par 4 will be a good birdie opportunity.
  • Hole 6: 555 Yards (Par 5)

    The sixth hole, which played as a long difficult par 4 in the 1964 and the 1997 U.S. Opens, has been converted to a short, risk/reward par 5 that virtually all the players in the field can reach in two shots. The key for the aggressive player will be the second shot, in which distance control must be very precise. The player who tries to avoid the water hazard on his second shot and overshoots the green will face a testing up and down. The green is bisected by a swale; expect challenging hole locations in the front right, back right and on the back left ridge.
  • Hole 7: 173 Yards (Par 3)

    The seventh hole is a medium-length par 3 that plays uphill to a two-tiered green. Deep bunkers guard the front of the green, although a player who misses the green in any direction will be left with a very difficult recovery. Regardless of which tier the hole location is on, staying below the hole will be very important on this green that has a pronounced pitch from back to front.
  • Hole 8: 354 Yards (Par 4)

    The shortest par 4 on the course presents an excellent birdie opportunity. Most players will opt for something less than driver, leaving themselves a lofted approach. The fairway slopes from left to right while the green has a relatively severe slope from back left to front right. A miss long and left of the green is the one mistake a player cannot afford if he expects to take advantage of this relatively easy hole.
  • Hole 9: 636 Yards (Par 5)

    The longest hole on the course has a new back left teeing ground that adds some 30 yards since the 1997 U.S. Open. This is a true three-shot par 5, although the tee markers will likely be moved up for one round to tempt players to try to reach the green in two shots. Players must avoid ending up short in a deep ravine that will have the most penal rough on the course. While the third shot will likely be played with a short iron, it is important to place the golf ball in the correct quadrant of the green as two prominent ridges divide it into three sections.
  • Hole 10: 218 Yards (Par 3)

    The new par 3 10th hole replaces the par 3 finishing hole from the 1997 U.S. Open and plays in the opposite direction. Because of the elevated teeing ground, this hole will generally play one club shorter. Any shot that lands short of the green will surely end up in the water. Distance control off the teeing ground will be important because a bailout long will leave a very difficult recovery to a green that slopes back toward the pond.
  • Hole 11: 494 Yards (Par 4)

    This hole is likely to play as one of the toughest par 4s on the course. The fairway has been shifted to the right, up against the stream. The left half of the fairway in the drive zone slopes sharply left to right. The player who can play his tee shot on the flat right side of the drive zone will have a distinct advantage playing his approach shot into this very narrow green. While this is one of the flattest greens on the course, a pond lurks on the right side of the green. There will likely be many bailouts to the left, which will leave one of the more difficult recoveries at Congressional because of the narrow green.
  • Hole 12: 471 Yards (Par 4)

    The new U.S. Open teeing ground for this hole, which adds some 55 yards, actually is the front teeing ground of the adjacent 15th hole. When utilized, this teeing ground will put a driver in the hands of most players. Expect the USGA to also utilize the 401-yard teeing ground for one round to give the players the opportunity to sling their tee shots around the relatively sharp corner of this dogleg-left par 4. The bunker on the outside corner will come into play for most tee shots. The mid-iron approach shot is slightly downhill to a green guarded by bunkers at each front corner. The green is of medium size with a few distinct quadrants separated by ridges.
  • Hole 13: 193 Yards (Par 3)

    This par 3 features a mid-iron tee shot that plays slightly uphill to a heart-shaped green with three distinct sections. Players who are long with their tee shots to the narrow front-center hole location will find it very difficult to make par because of the steep back-to-front pitch of the green.
  • Hole 14: 467 Yards (Par 4)

    Despite this hole’s length, some players may hit less than a driver because the fairway gradually narrows in the drive zone. The mid-iron approach shot is to an elevated green that is one of the toughest on the course. If the player is successful in hitting the green in regulation, he will still have work to do on this very undulating green that slopes sharply from back to front.
  • Hole 15: 490 Yards (Par 4)

    With a new teeing ground adding some 50 yards for this U.S. Open, the very demanding slight dogleg-left hole will be one of the toughest par 4s of the championship. Four bunkers on the right side of the drive zone will certainly come into play. The mid- or long-iron approach shot is to a dramatically elevated green that slopes back left to front right. Three bunkers guard the front and right of this angled green that requires excellent distance control on the approach shot. Par will be a very good score.
  • Hole 16: 579 Yards (Par 5)

    This hole will play the same yardage as it did in 1997, but the fairway bunkers have been moved farther down the drive zone. Those who avoid the bunkers will have an opportunity to reach the green in two shots. However, a misplayed shot to this elevated putting surface in any direction will translate into a ball that rolls down the hill, as a closely mown area was recently instituted that surrounds the green. While birdies and eagles are possible, one misstep could lead to a bogey or worse. It is very possible that the 16th hole could determine the outcome of the U.S. Open.
  • Hole 17: 437 Yards (Par 4)

    The vast majority of players will hit less than a driver to avoid going over the steep hillside at the end of the fairway on this medium-length par 4. There’s seemingly little advantage to driving over the hillside. However, for this U.S. Open, the USGA will cut the rough lower to allow for that option. The undulating green is divided by pronounced ridges, making it difficult to two-putt from the wrong segment of the green. If a player plays the hole properly and ends up in the proper quadrant of the green, a birdie is a reasonable possibility.
  • Hole 18: 523 Yards (Par 4)

    This demanding par 4 requires a tee shot down the right side to take advantage of the downhill right-to-left slope in the fairway. A mid-iron approach shot will likely be played from a downhill, sidehill lie to a peninsula green angled from right to left. The green is bisected, making two putts a challenge when playing from the wrong quadrant. This is one of the great finishing holes in all of championship golf and likely will decide the 111th U.S. Open champion.

All images and hole descriptions courtesy of

About the author:

Niall Kelly

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel