The 5 most crucial shots at Winged Foot, according to Gil Hanse

The 1st hole at Winged Foot.

A view of the 1st green at Winged Foot.

Christian Hafer

What shots at Winged Foot have the ability to make or break a U.S. Open contender’s championship (and maybe his heart in the process)? We asked Gil Hanse to choose his top five.

Watch the full video on Gil Hanse’s make-or-break shots here.

1. THE THIRD PUTT ON THE 1ST GREEN

Because the first green is, arguably, the most treacherous, it’s important to keep the train on the tracks early. “If you’ve got a tough third putt, your mind could be scrambled and you could miss it,” Hanse says. “But if you get out of there with three putts, you’re fine — you’ve taken your medicine and you can still get your round started.”

2. THE DRIVE ON NO. 6

With so few birdie opportunities on the scorecard, players will come to the West Course’s shortest par 4 looking to make a 3. “This is a real boom-or-bust tee shot, and it comes with that extra mental strain,” Hanse says. “You can get a look at birdie, but if you get too aggressive and bring five into play, you’ll walk off shaking your head.”

3. THE TEE SHOT ON THE PAR-3 10TH

This is among the most photographed spots on the course and with good reason: right at Winged Foot’s turn a huge turning point. “It’s a difficult green to hold and it can just be such a critical shot in your round,” Hanse says.

A view from the tee box of the par-3 10th hole at Winged Foot.

Christian Hafer

4. THE SECOND SHOT ON NO. 14

Hanse admits this is a selfish selection, because he’s hoping the restoration will add significant intrigue to the run-up area at No. 14. If players miss the fairway, they’ll have to run up their approach and risk getting snatched by the bunker some 25 yards short of the green. Long-carry bunker shot over a false front to a tucked pin? No thanks.

A green-to-tee view of the 14th hole.

Christian Hafer

5. THE DRIVE ON NO. 18

If it feels obvious to call 18 a pivotal hole at a U.S. Open, it’s fitting, because there’s nothing subtle about this finisher. Find the fairway, first of all. “Maybe the second shot at 18, too,” Hanse muses, thinking about a player’s need to carry his approach past the false front. “Maybe your second putt, too,” he adds. “Because what if it’s a four-footer with a foot of break to win the Open? What then?” Exactly. What then? Here’s hoping we’ll find out.

The tee shot players will be faced with on 18.

Christian Hafer

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