This story was originally written as part of the Spring 2022 edition of Stick & Hack Magazine. To get articles like this one delivered to your door 4 times a year, subscribe today!

Jon Rahm walked off the 18th green holding a six-shot lead after the third round of the 2021 Memorial Tournament. His 2020 Memorial victory launched him to number 1 in the world rankings, and he was on the cusp of back-to-back wins at Jack’s place in 2021.

Then Covid.

Tournament officials approached Rahm and informed him a positive Covid result meant he had to withdraw, walk away from a six-stroke lead, and miss a shot at being the first to repeat as champ since Tiger did it twenty years prior.

Rahmbo returned to action less than a month later at Torrey Pines and finished the tournament birdie-birdie to secure his first professional major and become the first Spaniard to win a U.S. Open.

2022 has a lot to live up to following that storyline, but the USGA is at the perfect place to guarantee an encore performance.

Steeped in history as one of the oldest clubs in America, The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts is one of the 5 charter members of the USGA and has hosted numerous championships over the years including two US Women’s Amateurs, six U.S. Amateurs, the 1999 Ryder Cup, and three U.S. Opens.

However, the fourth U.S. Open will look like an entirely new course since the 1988 edition with a new hole that’s never been used before.

With 27 holes on the grounds, The Country Club offers the USGA flexibility in setting up their composite championship course. According to insiders, holes 4-14 will look different than before with most changes coming on the tees and greens, but the 11th hole will be entirely new.

What plays as the short, par-3 12th on the Club’s main course will be the 130-yard par-3 11th for the U.S. Open. The yardage won’t make you sweat, but the small, tabletop green that rolls away from the hole in all directions and is protected on all sides by bunkers means players will be introduced to a different kind of challenge than they’re used to seeing in the modern game when length is king.

Speaking of length, the USGA balanced the introduction of the short par-3 by extending the traditional par-4 14th to a 619-yard par 5. It’s not unusual for the USGA to tinker with a few holes, but scuttlebutt around the clubhouse is that this year’s Country Club course will be a relatively brand new experience for these golfers.

In the end, it all adds up to a par 70 track with only the country’s championship, a couple million dollars, and eternal glory on the line.

Historically, we’re in for a treat. All three previous U.S. Opens at The Country Club ended in a playoff starting with Frances Ouimet’s mythical victory as an amateur in 1913 over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray (later told through the Bill Paxton film The Greatest Game Ever Played). Fifty years later, the U.S. Open returned to celebrate the anniversary of Francis’s win, Julius Boros won his second U.S. Open in a playoff over Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit, and 1988 saw Curtis Strange outlast Sir Nick Faldo in a playoff to win the first of his two back-to-back titles.   

Entering this year’s Championship, Jon Rahm, Colin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Viktor Hovland round out the top five on most odds lists to win with past U.S. Open champions Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka following close behind. Seven of the top ten favorites are past major champions and the other three, Viktor Hovland, Cameron Smith, and Xander Schauffele, each has significant victories in their past that should fuel their confidence when they tee it up outside of Boston.

Whether chalk holds and a favorite wins or we see another unlikely champion and perhaps a new “greatest game ever played”, one thing is certain, the U.S. Open is primed to deliver more memories come to Father’s Day.