If you’re a long-time golf fan, then you probably can remember a lot of the holes at Hazeltine National. It hosted a pair of PGA Championships in the 2000s won by unknowns — Rich Beem in 2002 and Y.E. Yang in 2009 over Tiger Woods — so it’s pretty fresh in our collective memory.
However, that memory might get scrambled during the 2016 Ryder Cup because Hazeltine National will play in a different order than you’d normally expect.
During the Ryder Cup, matches will play on holes 1-4, followed by holes 14-18 for the front nine. The players will make the turn and then play Nos. 10-13, followed by Nos. 5-9 for the final stretch of each match. Both the par-5 seventh hole and the par-3 eighth hole, now the 16th and 17th holes for the Ryder Cup, are dramatic holes with water in play — perfect for match play.
The change was made in large part to improve the routing as a match-play golf course. The traditional 16th and 17th holes of the course offer somewhat restricted views for fans, which would run counter to the climactic nature of match play.
With 40,000 people expected each day, and with eight matches for each of the first two days and 12 matches on the final day, a lot of fans will be packed on a small percentage of the golf course. Getting as many of them as possible near the likely finishing holes of a match is important, and this routing should achieve that.