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Jun 15, 2018 7:24 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

The Best Viewing At The 118th U.S. Open

The view of the false-front of the 10th green, as seen from the bleachers by the 12th tee.
Jun 19, 2018 10:10 AM

If you are heading up to the Open for the first time, or have been there and done the walk-all-over-the-damn-place thing and are trying to decide where to park yourself for your next day at the course, we here at The Press have canvassed the property and come up with a few suggestions of places you might want to settle into to get the best view of a great shot, a closeup of your favorite golfer, a comfortable seat or easy access to the more social areas of the course.

There are some grandstands that have their own specialty and some walkable spots where you can find an oasis from the tip-toes viewing over the flocks of gazers.

The Hill Top Campaign

If you just want to watch golfers do battle with some of Shinnecock’s most notorious obstacles, there are basically two places to be. The first is the grandstands above the 12th tee box or behind the 11th green. From the right-hand side of the 12th tee bleachers, you can get a clear view of golfers hitting their approach shots into the treacherous false front of the 10th green, the full play of the signature 11th and its postage stamp-sized green and then the tee shots down 12, one of the most picturesque holes (and the sun behind you makes it easy to see tee shots in the air). Sounds great right? Well, it’s no secret. At times on Thursday, the wait to get into the stand was 30 minutes. At other times though, it was wide open and had ample available seating, but the best seats are secured by real campers who plan on spending the day.

“You definitely have to get there early,” spectator Shawn Harrington said on Thursday afternoon.

“We got here at 7:45 and there were people in these seats already, but they left about an hour ago and we jumped into them,” said Marianne Kennedy of Brookline, Massachusetts, who was nestled into the top right-hand seat shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. “The only problem is going to the bathroom, you have to protect your seats.”

Another word of warning: be prepared to be told that you can’t stand in the broad deck at the top of the grandstand, which really would be the best viewing, but you’ll understand the safety concerns when you get up there.

On the other side of the 11th green is a smaller grandstand that offers more or less the same viewing options from a different angle. If you have the “Top of The Hill” beer garden tickets, well then, this area is definitely your base of operations.

The 7th, For The Fun Of It

Thanks to the 2004 Open, the 7th hole at Shinnecock is now one of the most notorious obstacles in the golf world. And it definitely deserves some of the notoriety, even if the USGA has labored to ensure it won’t become unfair like it did that infamous Saturday. But it is still one of the more entertaining shots to watch the pros hit, with lots of “Oooooohs” and “Ahhhhhs” from the gallery.

And, says Tim Motz of Water Mill, the grandstands there come with the added bonus of being adjacent to the large beer garden that sits alongside the 3rd fairway.

“If you’re there to have a few brews, the best area is the grandstand behind 7,” he said. “It’s got a concession stand and a bunch of restrooms nearby. In fact, the area around 8 is kind of a port-a-potty heaven."

Bonus mobile hack: if you are walking by the 7th and see someone you want to follow, don't push into the gallery area by the green. Cut back behind the 8th tee box and up the cart path, it cuts back and puts you smack into a high spot on a cart path with a clear view of the spill-out area at the bottom of the 7 green.

Up Close And Personal At 12 green and 17 tee

If you want to get as close to the players as you possibly can (for that selfie of a lifetime) without having to fight your way to the ropes at a tee box, make your way to the 12th green or the transition area between the 16th and 17th holes.

“The rope is right up close to the green—we were close enough today to overhear a player talking strategy with his caddie on the green,” Mr. Motz said of the area on the far side of the 12th green, noting that it is also a fairly uncongested there because it is on the furthest corner of the golf course from the rest of the action.

The walk from 16 to 17 is the only spot where all players must walk as close to the gallery, other than at the always congested 9th green and 1st tee. And because it is an area where a lot of people are moving between grandstands, getting a spot on the ropes is pretty easy.

Take A Load Off At 16 Green

If you are more of the settle in kind or just need to rest after hoofing the whole course in the morning but perhaps you’re past the age when sitting on a wooden plank for more than five minutes is anything but torture, then the grandstands next to the 16th green are your oasis. The seats … well, they’re seats, not bleachers. A chair with a back on it is a rare find on the course. The only other place is behind 18 (those chairs have padded seats to boot, but talk about having to get there early).

“I don’t know why we didn’t come here two hours ago,” Thomas Chelsey said to his wife, Morgan, after flopping into seats in the front row on Thursday afternoon.

And this grandstand is huge, pretty much the largest on the course, so there are almost always seats to be had. On Thursday afternoon, even when the throng following the Woods-Johnson-Thomas group was passing, there were still plenty of empty seats to be had. Also, there’s concessions and bathrooms nearby (behind the corporate pavilions on the 16th fairway).

Added bonus: look for the Amex Radio microphone mounted on the front of the grandstand and grab a seat if you want to send your friends a little live shout-out on the USGA broadcast. Keep it clean, kids.

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Stay home and watch it on you television, please.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Jun 15, 18 10:24 PM
Stay home and watch it on you television, please.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Jun 15, 18 10:24 PM