Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg, who has covered four major championships at Inverness Club starting with the 1979 U.S. Open, provides a tour of the golf course, which will play at 7,143 yards and to a par of 71. The holes are numbered and presented according to the special routing that will be employed for this week's U.S. Senior Open.
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Par 4, 395 yards
Players can nearly empty their bags on the tee -- anything from an iron to a hybrid to a 5-wood or 3-wood; anything except driver. The upper landing area tops out at 265 yards and while there is a cut of fairway after the drop-off there's no reason to chase it and end up with an odd lie. It's a pretty easy starting hole as long as a golfer avoids the left bunkers that split the shared fairway with No. 10 and doesn't fly his second shot into rough over the green.
Par 4, 380 yards
It's short and tight and, again, there's no reason to hit a driver because of fairway bunkers that pinch the landing area. The ridged green with a lot of contour is the key. Anytime a golfer hits a short-iron approach that fails to land on the same side of the green as the flag you'll know it was a mis-hit.
Par 3, 170 yards
It is almost a blind shot off the tee because the green is recessed behind mounded sand bunkers. So it's strictly a high distance shot with a lofted iron. It's short, but sweet, thanks to some of the prettiest bunkering you'll find on any parkland course.
Par 5, 511 yards
Players will be thinking birdie, maybe eagle, as they launch their drives toward a narrow landing area that doesn't give up many flat lies. Barring a really squirrelly lie, reaching the green in two is not a huge challenge. But golfers have to avoid a gorgeous bunker that protects the left side of the green and they won't like it if they land too far beyond a front pin position. Making a long putt from above the hole is strictly luck.
Par 4, 480 yards
This hole played at 428 yards during the 2003 Senior Open and it was just too easy. Now, it's a load with a horseshoe fairway bunker that comes in play into a prevailing wind, a little pot bunker beyond it, and a long iron approach to a tiny, sloped, mounded green. It was a birdie hole eight years ago; not now.
Par 4, 465 yards
It is one of the prettiest second shots on the course from an elevated fairway down to a small, undulating green that rolls lightning fast from back to front. A wayward drive can put a golfer in jail (trees left) or in one of two deep fairway bunkers on the right edge. There is a lower-level landing area short of the Inverness burn (that's what the Scots call a creek) but the upper landing strip is so flat there's no great reason to hit driver.
Par 4, 405 yards
A straight drive and an uphill putt means birdie. Another no-driver hole because the landing area is narrow and there's no sense in challenging the last of the fairway bunkers.
Par 5, 566 yards
Three of the club's original holes were combined to make up this long par 5 during a redesign by Tom and George Fazio prior to the '79 U.S. Open. It fits perfectly now with its Donald Ross surroundings. So, too, does the famous Hinkle Tree to the left of the tee box. There is risk in trying to reach the green in two because of a well-bunkered, narrow entry. So there is more reward playing it as a three-shot hole with the last being a little flip wedge to set up a nice birdie putt.
Par 4, 413 yards
The senior golfers will play this one from about 50 yards shorter than the championship tees and it's a fairly easy driving hole even with a slight dogleg. The challenge here is a uniquely-bunkered and tiny green that turns a lot of birdie chances into pars.
Par 4, 358 yards
It's a mirror image to its parallel partner, No. 1, though considerably shorter and with an even smaller green. There will be a lot of irons hit off the tee, a lot of pretty approach shots over the gully, and a lot of birdies.
Par 4, 373 yards
Another short and narrow hole perfect for hitting a hybrid club off the tee, as the only real obstacles are twin bunkers that pinch the landing area about 270 yards out. This is maybe the flattest green on the course, so the players will have a go at birdie here.
Par 3, 194 yards
There will be a lot of golfers working on a lot of sub-par rounds to this point. Here is where the fun ends with a demanding, seven-hole finishing kick. It starts with a long par 3 with water on the right and a shaved bank that will be tightly mowed. Smart money is going for the meat of the green, two-putting for par, and moving along.
Par 4, 460 yards
This is definitely a driver hole, especially since many trees have been cleared along the left side of the fairway. A 280-yard drive leaves 180 yards over a ravine to a tough, elevated green with a false front. Don't be short with an approach shot or it will spin back down. Pin placement up front will sucker even the best of players. Par is a fine score here.
Par 4, 445 yards
This is a tough hole, far better than critics first claimed after it was built as part of the Fazio redesign before the '79 U.S. Open. There is a creek down the entire right side, trees everywhere, a dogleg that slides left into a prevailing breeze, and a testy green. Hitting 3-wood off the tee is best move.
Par 3, 228 yards
It's long, it's uphill, and the green may be the toughest on the course to figure out because of many contours. It's not an elegant hole, by any means, but any pin position on the right side of the green gives it a lot of teeth with some tough bunkers protecting that side.
Par 4, 476 yards
This is normally No. 7 for Inverness members and guests and anyone who has ever played it, especially from the championship tees, ranks it among the best par 4s in America. Block a drive right and there's a creek and gnarly rough. Send it left and there are grassy moguls hidden in the rough that guarantee anything but a flat lie. But it's the uphill second shot to a tricky, crowned, quick green, and what a golfer does with his putter after reaching it that will separate contenders and pretenders.
Par 4, 470 yards
They played this hole at 435 yards in 2003, but tournament yardage indicates the field will move to the back tee this time and that brings into play the high back mound of the last fairway bunker on the dogleg (left) side. Steer clear of that and golfers still will have a 190-yard approach to a tough green with splendid bunkering. There were lots of birdies eight years ago; maybe not this time.
Par 4, 354 yards
After playing four straight par 4s of between 445 and 476 yards, golfers come to one of the great finishing holes in the game, albeit just a 354-yarder. There are hazards everywhere -- watch out for those three little pot bunkers hidden in the hilly right rough -- and missing the fairway can exact a toll. It is a marvelously wicked little green with a shaved right edge on the clubhouse side and not a single easy pin position. Wet, soft green conditions might mean birdies; dry and firm will produce the opposite.
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