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Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Very Brief Post...

So we can get down to the very serious business of watching the first round of the U.S. Open, the World Cup match between the USA and Slovenia (a must win, in case you aren't keeping up), AND the final game of the NBA Playoffs between the Lakers and Celtics. How often do you get a day with so many big events happening?

I just want to make a quick observation about the Open that I haven't heard discussed yet. Everybody's talking about how hard (as in both difficulty and macadam!) the course is; how the fairways have been moved closer to the ocean and the cliffs shaved; how some holes have been lengthened; how some of the rough now looks like they imported it from Scotland; how there isn't supposed to be any wind or rain to speak of; and how the conditions should bring all the shorter hitters into the mix AND let Tiger and Phil use their drivers as little as possible.

What I haven't heard discussed is how this is all ultimately going to make Pebble play. See, this is the first time Pebble has been set up with the idea that "the boys are hitting it a little too far." This is a short course with correspondingly smaller, sloping greens -- now, small sloping greens nearing the consistency of pavement. The question becomes... how penal can you make a small course before it becomes unplayable? The talk on Golf Central Wednesday night was how players are already trying to figure out how to play the course without actually landing the ball on the greens.

Understand, I'm not saying they ought to make it easy -- this IS the U.S. Open, after all. But we just changed the grooves to allow fliers from the rough; how far can you push the limits before good shots get no better results than poor shots? The USGA has (in effect) made a lot of changes to the U.S. Open all at once, and we don't know how they're going to work together.

I'm not being an alarmist or anything. But I'm going to be interested to see if the USGA ends up having to make changes for Friday's round after Thursday's done. Depending on how well they juggle the variables, this year's winner could end up being over par... and still just as impressive as Tiger's 15-stroke win 10 years ago.

Enjoy the coverage. I know I will.


  1. No direct answers to your questions - but you can probably get most of them indirectly answered by the lack of complaints from the players. These guys have shown that they will criticize a golf course or the layout if it warrants. So far - nothing, so assuming the worst doesn't seem like a rational place to start.

  2. oh - almost forgot...

    USA USA USA USA USA !! (and throw anybody with one of those horns over the top of the stadium) :-D

  3. Just heard Dennis Paulson talking with Brian Katrek on XM 146. Paulson said that he ran into JJ Henry yesterday and got a report on how hard and fast the greens are. He said that the guys are hitting sand wedges a couple of yards onto the 7th green and the ball is releasing all the way to the back. Hardly anything is holding on 17.

    They started watering the greens to make them hold a little better.

  4. Yeah, TGC is reporting that Mike Davis watered the fairways last night and the greens this morning. Apparently they have a method of testing the moisture in the ground that predicts problems before they happen... and they weren't happy with the test results Thursday morning. They also said the USGA has been unable to strike a new deal with Shinnecock Hills since that last debacle; they felt it made their course look bad. That almost certainly has made the USGA more cautious.

    BTW, I got my World Cup game wrong -- it's Friday morning. I looked at the wrong game in the schedule.

  5. It's a shame Shinnecock is thinking that way. Nothing bad was said about the course - everybody loved the layout. It was the setup that made it bad. You'd think they would understand that difference. (besides - it's a private club - not like they're using the US Open as a membership drive)

  6. I agree. Maybe the USGA will work something out with them. It would be a great loss to the golf community if it left the rotation.