USGA Announces Drastic Change To Closing Hole Prior To US Women's Open Final Round

The USGA confirmed the considerable change to the penultimate par 4 at Lancaster Country Club on the morning of the final round

Main image of players walking down the 16th fairway at Lancaster Country Club - inset photo of the hole information board on the 16th tee box before Sunday's play of the 2024 US Women's Open
(Image credit: Getty Images/USGA on X)

Scoring has been extremely difficult at the 2024 US Women's Open - as most people agree it should be - with the leaders on just four-under heading into Sunday's final round at Lancaster Country Club.

But in an attempt to induce a few more birdies down the stretch and shake up the closing stages of this year's championship, the USGA has opted to make a pretty drastic change to the penultimate par 4.

Measuring 340 yards during round one, 351 yards in round two, and 342 yards for round three so far this week, the USGA surprised everyone on Sunday morning by posting a photo of the information board on the 16th which showed just 239 yards as its total length for round four.

The 16th hole at Lancaster CC is a dogleg-left hole with two large bunkers guarding the neck of the fairway and a plethora of further sand traps down the left rough. As the crow flies, it will measure at a little more than 200 yards on Sunday, while the method used for measuring holes means it is officially closer to 240.

Having played marginally over par on all three days of the US Women's Open so far, the switch-up will likely lead to many more birdies - and possibly even an eagle or two - now that it is at a drivable length for the average player.

Per the LPGA Tour website, 148 of the 150 players with sufficient data available are averaging over 239 yards with their drives this season.

However, just because the hole is in reach does not mean that every player will opt to go for it in one. The rough is extremely penal at Lancaster CC and may well cause some big numbers if the competitors find themselves out of position following a wayward tee shot.

One player who knows that better than anyone is Nelly Korda, who did not make it to the weekend in the second women's Major of 2024, in part, as a result of a 10 on the 161-yard par 3 hole on Thursday

Korda found the back bunker from her tee shot before sending the resulting wedge zipping across the green and down in the stream which guards the front edge.

Three attempts to bump her drop shot into the front of the green later, hoping it would stop underneath the hole, Korda made off with a septuple-bogey which left her first round - and ultimately her quest for a third Major - in total ruin.

A composite picture featuring Nelly Korda (left) and her septuple bogey at the 2024 US Women's Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Reacting to the disaster, she said: "We waited for like 25 to 30 minutes on that tee, too. I was in between a 7-iron and a 6-iron. I just didn't really know what to hit.

"Sometimes it's not really good seeing the girls play in front of you because two of them -- Gaby [Lopez] came up short of the water, and I think Ingrid [Lindblad] went into the water. It was just a tough day.

"I kind of teed it up behind the tee box a little one club length back. I hit a 6-iron and it just kind of penetrated through the wind and it went into the back bunker.

"I kind of had a leaf under my ball, so when I hit it kind of rocketed through. Couldn't really do anything about that. Yeah, just hit some really bad chips over and over again."

Korda was far from the only player to lose out in an arm wrestle with the US Women's Open host course, though, with a total of 52 golf ball ending up in the water by the 13th and 10 of the holes leading to a worst score of triple-bogey on the first day alone.

Post-round, hugely popular Golf Channel analyst Mel Reid outlined where it went wrong for Korda on that hole but stated she is a fan of the tough test Lancaster CC is providing this week.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.