Friday, June 15, 2012

The Open: Love it tough but not impossible

   Why is it some people love to watch the pros make bogeys and double bogeys in the U.S. Open?
   They enjoy it, almost wallowing in the big numbers that accumulate on Open scorecards like another gnome in a hoarder's den.
   I don't get it.
   Well, I suppose I do get it. People like to see golf's one percent suffer once in a while.
   We all know how hard golf is. I don't need to watch Luke Donald shooting 79 to remind me again. This is the U.S. Open, one of the most important tournaments in the world, and I'm okay if guys make some birdies. I'm not advocating 16-under par like Rory McIlroy shot last year at Congressional but I'm okay if 5, 6 or 7-under wins the Open.
   I get the 'total examination' idea of the U.S. Open. The winner should prove he can drive in the fairway, hit greens, chip and, of course, putt. But I prefer to see the leaders move forward, not gradually fall away like the last leaves of autumn.
    Determining a champion should include a guy being able to make something happen, not to be the best at avoiding calamity.
    Mike Davis and Tom O'Toole, the two guys in charge of setting up U.S. Open courses, get that idea, too. It's their job to find the balance, leaning toward tougher is better, but not squeezing all the fun out of the championship.
   O'Toole says "it might not be particularly spectator oriented" but that's the nature of the challenge.
   "I think that if fans had to see this 52 weeks of the year, it probably wouldn't be good," Davis said. "But to see it once a year, at least the feedback we've that it's something that fans want to see a tough test one week of the year."
   The trick, Davis said, is making it difficult but keeping it exciting. The Olympic Club can allow both.
   The first six holes are wicked, the middle portion of the course is like a dull headache and the closing holes allow for birdies. The par-5 17th is reachable in two and the 18th is a short par-4, creating at least the possibilty for fireworks rather than a dumpster fire at the end.
   It's the U.S. Open. It's supposed to be hard, not impossible.


King Ward said...

I have no problems with rough at the U.S. Open, as long as it is graduated and with wider "light" rough on holes where the players have to hit the driver. That's only fair.

I'm glad to see mown areas around some of the greens which bring chipping and the bump-and-run into play. But the USGA shouldn't have any setup that puts a player in deep rough just a few feet from any putting surface.

Chipping is part of golf and it ought to be possible to play normal chips on any hole. This is where the Masters gets it right where the USGA gets it wrong in many instances.