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The stage is set for the 2023 US Open. Los Angeles Country Club will host one of men's golf's four marquee events for the first time in its history, meaning players will be faced with a new challenge, and the par-3s are garnering plenty of attention in the build-up.
Long heralded as the toughest of the four men's Majors, the usual videos featuring balls being dropped in the rough have been doing the rounds, but it's the short holes that have created the biggest buzz.
Five there are at LACC, two of which are listed at nearly 300 yards, placing them in the top three longest par-3s in US Open history should the USGA use the back tees, but we've seen that before.
Course lengthening is nothing new in golf, however the USGA has a unique opportunity to test the game's best in a different way when they arrive on the par-3 15th. It's on the scorecard as 124 yards, roughly the same as Royal Troon's famous Postage Stamp, but given the size of the tee and shape of the green, it can play as little as 78 yards, which would be a rare and welcome sight in this age of obsession over hitting distances.
Here's what some of the players have said about the prospect of reaching for a lob wedge rather than a long iron or a fairway wood to tackle one of LACC's 'short' holes.
"I think that's amazing," defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick said. "I know there's par-3s here that are 293 yards, I think. Might be able to play a bit longer. I don't know the ins and outs.
"Yeah, I would argue that at 78 yards, stood there with a lob wedge in your hand, you're going to be a little bit more intimidated than stood there with a 3-wood in your hand. I would probably say that's pretty truthful amongst everyone in the field.
"I imagine that the target is going to be very small and you're going to have to hit a good shot. I think we need more short par-3s that are challenging, so I'm excited to see what that looks like."
Collin Morikawa is one of few to have first-hand experience at this week's venue, having played it during the 2017 Walker Cup. He echoed Fitzpatrick's sentiments and gave a glimpse into the challenge that awaits this week.
"I played with DJ and Gary [Woodland] yesterday from 16 to 18, and they asked me about it because yesterday I think it was like 120," the two-time Major winner said. "I remember like you almost had to practice teeing up with a 60-degree lob wedge like an inch off the ground, which you never do, and just trying to try and hit it perfect, because you had to with height, with spin.
"It's only going to be that much more important this week if they do move it up. I'm sure they will. So, yeah, you have like a yard and a half to land it if you want to hit a good shot. If not, you've got to play left and hopefully hit a good putt.
"It's frustrating because you can hit an OK shot and not get rewarded at all. Especially out here you can't land it in the rough. It's not going to bounce out. You've got to land it in the right spot.
"I just remember it was a very tough shot, I pulled it off, and I think I still had like 20 feet for birdie."
As for the brute that is the 11th, Morikawa was less complimentary, adding: "Yeah, special, I wouldn't really use that word. I would just characterise it as long. It's just a long downhill par-3."
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A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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