Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the 12th hole is a seemingly harmless par 3 that measures only 143 yards.
With the winds predicted from the west, this hole is played in a left-to-right crosswind, usually the toughest wind for a right-handed player.
Every shot with a right-left shape fights against the wind and controlling the distance will be the toughest obstacle players will encounter. Understanding the nuances here is paramount to conquering this beautiful but beguiling hole.
From the tee, the green towers dangerously high above the lake, and that’s when the intimidation begins. Players can clearly imagine what Pete Dye was up to; Each miss short and / or right will fall approximately 20-30 feet below the putting surface. This hole plays slightly downhill and the front two-thirds of this green appear large, but it is played much smaller depending on the hole position.
The front left corner has numerous nubs and bumps to keep your ball out of the hole, and the back center of the green leads to a cavernous bunker where golf balls hurry up for even the slightest misjudgment of the wind.
While the front part of the green has a little margin for error, the rear right area of the green (where we should see the hole for at least a session or two) is the size of a living room and has absolutely no room for any error.
What ultimately makes the shortest par 3 on Whistling Straits so diabolical is the predicted wind direction from the west at a speed of 10-20 miles per hour. To top it off, the large grandstand that sits in the back to the left of the green will help fool players off the tee, as the flag on the tip of the short iron could be slacker than the actual wind speed.
Some balls could be briefly missed in the aforementioned fall-offs to the right of the green, so given the petite length of the hole, we can see players play more conservatively (especially in fours).
We can’t wait to see the Ryder Cup course setup team and Mother Nature challenge the players for all sessions this week, and this 12th hole will serve as the key to the bottom line.
Steve Scott is the Director of Instruction at Golfweek and the author of the book “Hey, Tiger – You Need to Move Your Mark Back,” which was published earlier this year (Skyhorse Publishing, $ 19.99). It’s available at movethatback.com. In addition to leading our lessons, Scott is also the PGA Head Golf Professional at Outpost Club, Founder of the Silver Club Golfing Society and PGA Tour Live Analyst.
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