Perched on the shores of Lake Michigan, the 12th hole is a seemingly innocuous par 3, measuring a mere 143 yards, however, during the matches this week it will play more exacting than the yardage might indicate.
With the winds forecasted to be out of the west, this hole will play in a left to right crosswind, typically the most difficult wind for a right-hander.
Any shot with a right to left shape will be fighting against the wind and controlling distance will be the most difficult obstacle the players will face. Understanding the nuances here will be paramount to conquering this beautiful, but beguiling hole.
From the tee, the green perilously sits high above the lake, and the intimidation starts at that very moment. The players can clearly visualize what Pete Dye intended; any miss short and/or right will fall some 20-30 feet below the putting surface. This hole plays ever so slightly downhill and the front two-thirds of this green appears large, however, it will play much smaller depending on the hole location.
The Puttview yardage book for Whistling Straits’ Straits Course, site of the Ryder Cup (Courtesy of Puttview)
The front-left corner has numerous knobs and humps to repel your ball from the hole and the back-middle of the green slopes away towards a cavernous bunker where golf balls will collect in a hurry, even with the slightest misjudgment of the wind.
Whereas the front portion of the green has a little margin for error, the back-right area of the green (where we should see the hole for at least one or two sessions) is the size of a living room and has absolutely zero room for any mistake.
What ultimately makes the shortest par 3 at Whistling Straits so devilish will be the forecasted wind direction from the west, blowing at 10-20 miles per hour. To top it off, the large grandstand sitting on the back left of the green will aid in fooling players from the tee as the flag could lay limper than the actual wind velocity at the short-iron apex.
Several balls could be missed short right of the green in the aforementioned fall-offs, so we may see players playing more conservatively (especially in foursomes) given the petite length of the hole.
We can’t wait to see how the Ryder Cup course setup team and Mother Nature challenges the players for all sessions this week, and this 12th hole will serve as a key in the final outcome.
Steve Scott is the Director of Instruction for Golfweek and the author of the book “Hey, Tiger – you need to move your mark back,” released earlier this year (Skyhorse Publishing, $19.99). It’s available at movethatback.com. Aside from leading our lessons, Scott is also the PGA head golf professional at the Outpost Club, founder of the Silver Club Golfing Society and a PGA Tour Live analyst.