Is this the best piece of architecture the U.S. Open has ever seen? No, but it requires shot-shaping from a variety of stances, examining every facet of the game. With the fog and cypress trees, the Lake Course exudes a vibe few venues enjoy. As a West Coast venue in one of America’s most economically vibrant markets, it’s also a cash cow for all involved.
Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa.
One of America’s iconic venues successfully held the 2013 U.S. Open and while not the easiest place to host a major, the East Course is unlike any other venue because of the neighborhood party vibe that enveloped the last Open. With a few tweaks to the land plan and the same concessions from neighbors that made 2013 successful, Merion would be even more amazing than last time.
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Oakland Hills C.C., Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
This Donald Ross epic was modified by Robert Trent Jones for the U.S. Open and last hosted in 1996. The bitter aftertaste of Steve Jones’ bizarre win has worn off, and the combination of an overdue return to Michigan along with the club hosting this summer’s U.S. Amateur should help its cause. As will hiring architect Gil Hanse to develop a restoration plan of a Ross course that looks utterly captivating in old photos.
Photo By: Stephen Szurlej
Congressional C.C., Bethesda, Md.
The United States Open should return to the nation’s capital. The site of three U.S. Opens leaves the USGA uninspired, so only a restoration using old photos can probably get the national championship back in the nation’s capital. The 2026 U.S. Open going to Shinnecock was a blow to the club’s hopes of hosting on the nation’s 250th birthday, but no other D.C.-area venue comes close in having the ability to handle the U.S. Open scale.
Cherry Hills C.C., Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
William Flynn’s Denver-area masterpiece has been restored by Tom Doak and while it plays short because of altitude, the course has produced three memorable U.S. Opens. The USGA appreciates how this grand golfing club has generously opened its doors to important events for decades. It’s time to return to the Rockies.
Southern Hills C.C., Tulsa, Okla.
Perry Maxwell’s tree-lined design in Tulsa has always presented itself well in majors, and especially well in June when the U.S. Open is played. Our guess is some tree removal and recapturing of lost Maxwell elements would get the USGA’s attention. The club’s membership, long supportive of championships, certainly isn’t the issue.
Chambers Bay, University Place, Wash.
By the time they are awarded another U.S. Open, the memories of 2015 will have dissipated, as will, hopefully, the steepness of the manmade dunes created for spectators. An expansive (but potentially expensive) re-shaping of those dunes must take place so that the passionate Seattle/Tacoma spectators can see the golf and not risk injury to life and limb. Some more established fescue greens would help, too. The Pacific Northwest has shown it will support a major as well as any market.