Friday, June 08, 2007

Of perverse pleasure and four-putts

There will be an overdose of discussion in the next week about the difficulty of Oakmont Country Club, site of this year’s U.S. Open.

That’s not unusual. Every year there’s talk about how tough the Open course is because, for all the chatter about it being a total examination of a player’s game, the Open is about beating the starch out of players with bogeys.

Many fans take a perverse pleasure in watching the best golfers in the world shoot 77 as if there’s some fun in that. If you want to watch bogeys, spend 15 minutes at any course around and you’ll get an eyeful.

I understand the Open wants to be tougher than a $2 steak.

What I’ve never understood is why so many golfers want their home courses to be so hard. Oakmont members take special pride in how their course beats up everyone.

I’ve played Oakmont and it beat me up. The member hosting me said there’s an expectation that every first-time player at Oakmont - regardless of his or her handicap - will four-putt at least once on the diabolical greens. I can’t speak for everyone but I can say I didn’t disappoint my host.

Oakmont’s reputation is built on its difficulty and it’s been well earned. Playing it was maybe the most fun I’ve had getting beat up.

But this is not specifically about Oakmont, which is in a special category.

My question is why club members, who theoretically play golf for fun, want to make their course so hard the fun is buried under thick collars of rough around the greens and on 485-yard par-4s.

They take it personally if someone suggests another course is tougher than theirs as if there’s something wrong with that. Maybe it’s a macho thing.

Golf’s hard enough on an easy course. Why make it more difficult?


joe said...

I love to watch and play golf. I have all my life. But the US Open is barely watchable and the worst TV event besides any 36 hole match play final.

Like you said, if I want to watch bogeys and 15 foot par putts I can go to any course in the country and get it in abundance for free.

Buckster said...

The US Open is a great event and you can bet I will be parked in front of the tube on the weekend watching it unfold.

The worst part, besides listening to Johnny Miller whine, is having Chris Berman covering it with ESPN on Thursday and Friday. That windbag doesn't know anything about golf, let alone the open. The mute button will be used!