Restored, Lengthened Shinnecock Links Ready for Pros
After several years of preparation, the iconic Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton is ready to play host to the world’s best golfers next week at the 118th U.S. Open. Practice rounds begin Monday morning; the tournament is to begin next Thursday.
The eyes of the sporting world will once again be on Shinnecock, which, by the end of next week, will have held the prestigious event five times in three centuries — in 1896, 1986, 1995, 2004, and this year. The Open is to return to Shinnecock in 2026.
“We truly are at a national treasure here,” Mike Davis, the chief executive officer of the United States Golf Association, said at a press conference on the club’s grounds two weeks ago. “This is the fourth of the modern Opens being played, starting in 1986, when Raymond Floyd won,” the only golfer in the field that year to break par, by one stroke.
“We loved the place so much we’re coming back here for another U.S. Open. . . . But you know, Shinnecock is more about modern golf. It has a place in history that is almost unrivaled here in the United States. It’s indeed one of the most important places in all of golf in the United States.”
“We think Mike Davis and his team are about to stage a championship that will be one for the ages,” said Brett Pickett, the president of Shinnecock Hills. “Our club is deeply proud of our role in the founding of American golf, and in the common heritage we share with the United States Golf Association. Some 122 years after our relationship began, we have never ever been closer, and they are the one and only partner we would ever entrust to present Shinnecock to the world.”
Founded in 1891, Shinnecock is the oldest incorporated golf club in the United States, and is one of the five founding member clubs of the U.S.G.A., which was established in 1894.
Now playing at 7,445 yards (449 yards longer than the last Open here), the course has undergone a number of changes since 2004. Golfers will notice 11 new tee boxes, for one, creating new angles. While 14 of the fairways have been narrowed, they remain wider than they were in the past three Opens at Shinnecock, and where they’ve been widened, the new angles effectively narrow them, calling to mind what Raymond Floyd said in analyzing the course in 2004: “The longer player has less room.”
Moreover, Shinnecock is practically treeless now, nature and man having combined to restore it to its original state, and the thick grass that previously surrounded the edges of the greens has been mowed short, as William Flynn, the noted golf architect, intended almost 90 years ago.
“The golf course itself is tremendously significant from an architectural standpoint,” Davis said. “And while I wouldn’t want to disparage any other golf course in the world in terms of which is the best, I dare say that in terms of where elite golf is played I can’t think of a better golf course in the world than Shinnecock Hills. It’s timeless.”
“The architect William Flynn, who came in in the late 1920s, when the course needed to be expanded, made it so. The architecture is just marvelous.”
“If you look at the scorecard it will be 7,445 yards, but we didn’t add distance just to add distance. What we really did, and we did it in concert with the club itself, was bring the shot value back to what Flynn had designed.”
When it comes to the tournament’s logistics, the U.S.G.A. has, with the Town of Southampton, its Police Department, and with other local and state agencies, come up with a comprehensive transportation plan for those attending the event, the details of which follow.
Fans traveling by car from the west during Open week should follow event trailblazing signs to Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach. There will be complimentary parking there, and shuttles will run regularly from 5:30 a.m. each day, continuing for an hour following the conclusion of play. It’s expected to take about 35 minutes each way, depending on traffic conditions.
A limited paid parking option for fans with U.S. Open tickets arriving from the east will be available at the 60-acre Hampton Classic showgrounds off Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton. The usopen.com website has more information concerning this.
In partnership with the Long Island Rail Road, there will be expanded service on the Montauk branch to and from the former Southampton College station on the south side of County Road 39. A pedestrian bridge has been set up over the highway there. Schedule and fare information can be had online at mta.info/lirr. The Hampton Jitney is also to run several buses each morning from Manhattan to the Stony Brook Southampton campus. The fare each way is $29.
There is no general parking or parking for disabled fans in the immediate vicinity of the golf club. All other parking is by permit only. Parking restrictions in the vicinity of the championship grounds and within Southampton Town will be closely monitored and enforced, the U.S.G.A. said. Detailed information regarding travel restrictions can be found online at southamptontownny.gov. Handicapped-accessible parking spaces will be available at all championship parking areas for vehicles displaying the appropriate license plates or placards. Full fan information can be found at usopen.com/fan-info.html.
A 37,000-square-foot merchandise pavilion with 400,000 different souvenir items will be open to the public from today through Sunday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Parking on these days at the Stony Brook Southampton campus will be free.
Daily tickets can still be had online through usopen.com. Those under the age of 18 will be admitted free in the company of a ticketed adult. Those between the ages of 19 and 24 can buy Trophy Club tickets for gallery prices with a student ID.