No U.S. Open is ever complete without at least one hole on the course that draws the field's ire for the week. Last year that hole was the par 5 14th, a hole that gave players fits with a green that had a shaved bank on the left side that funneled errant shots off the green and out of the county of Monterey.
One year after a par-5 was one of the most talked about holes, there's a good chance the par-5 16th at Congressional could very well be the most talked about hole on the course. At 579 yards, the hole wouldn't seem to be the kind that would make players very nervous; after all, with that much yardage, most would probably be inclined to lay up short and try and stick it close for birdie.
But with the USGA considering moving the tee box up, the hole could go to roughly 530 yards, well within the range of every player in the field to have a go at it in two. So what's the big deal with the hole? As you can see from the video that Geoff Shackelford shot (above) earlier in the week, hitting it long and right on the 16th could put you in the worst position on the course.
Not only does the ball roll off the green, going right rolls your ball into the pine straw and under some low-hanging trees. It's a double whammy that should have the players talking about the hole -- especially if they move the tee box up.
"... It really makes you think on that second shot, if you can get there," Phil Mickelson said in his Tuesday press conference. "If it's downwind and you can get there, you really have to think about what kind of shot you want to do because if you miss it long, if you fly it on the green and it goes over, that's a really hard up and down. And par might be difficult."
Par a difficult score on a par-5? That doesn't seem so absurd when you consider USGA setups are meant to be the epitome of risk-reward golf. Players gutsy enough to go for 16 in two could be looking at an eagle putt ... or a double-bogey.
We'll just have to see if anybody is crazy enough to go at the hole with the shaved slope lurking on the right and on the backside of the green.
More views of the trouble behind the par-5 16th [Geoff Shackelford]