At 252 yards for this year's U.S. Open, this uphill, typically downwind long par-3 is one of the more subtly artful and not-so-subtly difficult one-shotters around.
In 1986, P.J. Boatwright noted the small approach added to players land the ball short of the green, 226 yards away:
A very strong a par-3, uphill to a green that is appropriately large. Normally, we isolate greens on par-3 holes with rough. In this case, because the hole is so long, we left a strip of fairway in front of the green so that players can bounce the ball onto the green. This is only fair because the hole is likely to play downwind.
The aerial showing the entire fairway drenched in rough! Fairway was installed by 1995:
So, instead of penalizing the professional player for working hard and taking advantage of all that is available today, my argument has shifted to wanting bifurcation in order to make the game easier, less costly and quicker for the average player.
My idea for the average player begins with distance; the game is too darn long. Think about it: If a player gives up 80 yards off the tee and 45 yards on a 7-iron (180-135), it makes sense that this player should play from 7,400 – ((80 X 14) + (45 X 14) + (4 X 50)) = 5,450 yards to relate to the tour game. Even for the player who averages 250 off the tee and 160 with a 7-iron, the same reasoning yields a 6,400-yard course, give or take a little. But I’m not stopping there, equipment rules need to be relaxed as well.
For instance, the allowable trampoline effect for amateurs should be increased with a focus to fit slower club-head speeds. The limit on the size of the club head needs to be removed and larger grooves for more control and spin should be allowed. Ball limits should be relaxed so the player with lower club-head speed gets more benefit from new ball technologies.
This has been the view of bifurcaters for some time: if in fact the growth of golf or the equipment business has been stifled by the current equipment rules, then why not deregulate for the average man and woman to see what happens, while protecting certain values that make the pro game play a little bit differently?
Currently manufacturers refuse to make non-conforming issues out of legitimate concern about public perception, so why not detach that stigma?
U of A's Haley Moore clinched the deciding match to win the 2018 NCAA Women's team title
Like any golfer, you won't be surprised to learn that Haley Moore has been subjected to her share of self-doubt. But at 6'2" and an early enrollee to Arizona, Moore has dealt with her share of bullying and obstacles to overcome.
The first time Arizona associate head coach Derek Radley saw Haley hit a golf shot was off the cart path at Reunion Resort. The high school freshman hit a low-draw 6-iron to the middle of the green. Radley was immediately hooked.
“I saw a kid young and full of talent, not really sure of herself,” said Radley. “Man, if we could get her into our program and just pump her full of confidence, sky’s the limit.”
It's a tradition here pre-U.S. Open: counting down the holes until Shinnecock Hills hosts a fourth modern-era U.S. Open over its magnificent William Flynn design.
Besides some excellent flyovers filmed in fall 2017 by the USGA, for added giggles I'm going to share--when helpful--the 1986 comments of P.J. Boatwright and the 1995 comments of David Eger. Both were the Senior Director of Rules prior to the U.S. Open at Shinnecock. Their comments appeared in the tournament programs.
For the 1986 U.S. Open, Boatwright said of the opening hole:
A pleasant starting hole that offers a sweeping view of the course from an elevated tee. You'll see most players get off the tee with four-woods and one-irons since it's a tight drive zone--one we narrowed from 46 yards to 28 yards. The green has been enlarged at the back left to provide a testing hole location behind the bunker at the left of the green.
Eger in 1995:
This is a great starter, as the elevated tee provides players with a sweeping view of the course. It's a slight dogleg right and the prevailing wind quarters from left to right. Many players will use a fairway wood off the tee as the fairway is only about 30 yards off the tee.
This manageable opening hole plays from an elevated tee near the clubhouse. Players who hit driver will find that the fairway narrows dramatically as it nears the two fairway bunkers on the right side of the drive zone – from 47 yards wide at 275 yards, to 30 yards wide at the 300-yard mark. Under certain wind conditions, players might attempt to hit driver close to or onto the putting surface. It’s a birdie opportunity, but a player could make a quick bogey here as well.
I'm usually a defender of sponsor's invites and the silly scores that have come with them. But I'm not sure if country singer Jake Owen (Nashville Open first round 86) taking to Twitter mid-round is the look a tournament or the PGA Tour was hoping for since Owen was pushing back at a player unhappy at seeing a spot wasted. How Owen saw the mention among his 2.28 million followers is unclear, or when he found the time to bang out a Tweet as he was racking up a huge score is also not clear.
Either way, he fired off a less-than-gentlemanly reply to Doug Walker:
No prob Doug. I’m +11 now and tweeting during my round. I’m playing as hard as I can. I have 8 holes left if you want to come out and kiss my ass. https://t.co/UMeFWFKLVP
Walker challenged Owen to some charity fundraising via birdies--of which Owen made zero in round one--and it appears all are on board with others pledging money to Brandt Snedeker's foundation, the beneficiary of the event, reports Golf World's Christopher Powers.
One of Walker's many follow-ups:
Alright @jakeowen you called me out for my tweet. Well done and well played back 9. @GolfWorld@GolfDigest picked it up and my response was $50 per birdie tomorrow to your charity so go low and let's see if anyone else that came at me will pony up as well @WebDotComTour
That's the question posed byDoug Ferguson as we head to Shinnecock Hills and after recent Opens and Chambers Bay and Erin Hills.
While I understand lamenting the loss of thick rough and narrow fairways, I do wonder if the lack of U.S. Open re-broadcasts on Golf Channel clouds memories of that past style of play. Yes, it was an "ultimate test" and very, very difficult, but the pre-Mike Davis U.S. Open setup approach had its faults.
While Ferguson's piece hits on the key arguments of some who miss the old U.S. Open, I sense folks are confusing the issues. Which are:
--Going to links style modern courses devoid of history (Chambers Bay, Erin Hills)
--Ending the days of six inch rough off the fairways and trying to eliminate setup boondoggles
--The brief move away from classic inland, tree-lined tests
--Player or former player disdain for the USGA and/or Mike Davis and venting
In considering the issues, the venue selections seem the bigger issue than all others for U.S. Open fans. Given the run of U.S. Open courses ahead, the identity may come back on its own.
They covered the television spectrum of awful to amazing over the course of Wednesday's NCAA Women's Golf Championship: there was the moribund Karsten Creek, a Fazio design just oozing with ryegrass overseed and a level of drabness that exceeds even his established standards for expensive mediocrity.
Worse, it was a course devoid of spectators--beyond family members and officials. The only real sound came from a plane flying above to capture great aerials.
All day there were players playing each shot as if it were their last, consulting pace of play-expediting rangefinders, only to then go to their yardage books and coaching insights as we waited, waited and waited for a golf shot to be struck. Then they got to the greens where they looked into green books and we viewers waited more to see golf shots.
It was enough to make anyone despise what has become of the college game.
Yet all of the tediousness was rendered (somewhat) moot when Alabama's Lakareber Abe recovered from a 17th hole debacle to hit perfect shots at the 18th and force a sudden death playoff for the team title between her Crimson Tide and Hayley Moore of Arizona.
Moore ultimately sank the winning putt for the Wildcats and besides delivering her the memory of a lifetime, gave us viewers the chance to experience a highlight improbable win by the 8th seeded-Wildcats. Good for Haley and her teammates: you were clutch and genuinely earned this title.
As for the college coaches and NCAA that have been handed the gift that is national television exposure: shame on you. No one in their right mind tuning in could come away with a positive impression of college golf when they see shots taking two minutes to play and absurd coaching intrusions and slow play.
Here is the moment where European Tour Chief Keith Pelley finally was able to explain to Haotong Li how the GolfSixes format works. We all can relate to Li grasping at the Chief Executive's logic. The BMW PGA starts Thursday from Wentworth.
The King wins at Colonial, a fun PGA Tour posted flashback. I think we all could have done without the #liveunderpar hashtag, except the ad geniuses whose job depends on counting up the impressions for failing, almost shockingly awkward ad campaign gone wrong.
I've always been particularly fascinated at the idea of minimalist course designs costing more to maintain.
The concept is generally perpetrated by the tin siding-salesman masquerading as golf architects who sometimes plaid jackets and would just as soon be selling you a policy as they would be in designing interesting, affordable golf holes. They also don't really like the minimalist movement for a variety of reasons, from general point missing to just wanting to sell projects on goods and services they don't need.
Born out of this have been derogatory whisper campaigns about the perils of going minimalist, including the contradictory notion that bunkers maintained as rough hazards take more time and money to present than those edged weekly and raked daily.
So as accustomed to this completely bizarre take as we subscribers to the movement have become, it was a bit disheartening to read Gary Van Sickle'sMorningRead.com take suggestingAT&T Byron Nelson Classic host site Trinity Forest was an example of the kind of "high-maintenance, slow-play golf course" the game needs less of.
Had Van Sickle been there to hear Jordan Spieth mention whizzing around the course in two-hours--golf board aided--or seen the turf, I wonder if this take might have been different:
Golf needs low-maintenance, fast-play golf courses. Trinity Forest is a high-maintenance, slow-play golf course. Did you see some of those massive bunkers? An amateur could spend five minutes raking his or her way out of the trap.
Greens are the most expensive parts of a golf course to maintain, and Trinity Forest has gigantic greens. One double green is 35,000 square feet. Pebble Beach’s front-nine greens would almost fit in that corral.
It’s ironic that Trinity Forest seemed like a breath of fresh air with its different look and myriad challenges, but it is not an economically viable model for golf in most areas.
Actually, it is.
Despite the deep pockets of the members, the maintenance approach is pretty restrained.
Reviewing my notes from an interview with superintendent Kasey Kauff, he noted Trinity's full staff for the course is a very normal 24, including assistants and technicians.
Fairways are cut twice a week while bunkers are raked at the same rate (with touch ups). The greens are mown just five days a week in peak season, once or twice a week in the winter.
Thanks to the slow-growing zoysia and lean watering program, bunkers are rarely edged. Fertilization is at half the rate of a Bermuda grass golf course. Half.
As for slow play, maintenance and design are not to blame for threesomes in a full field PGA Tour event not getting around in a timely manner. When today's players can reach all par-5s in two and at least one par-4 in one, that's a distance discussion and sometimes a green speed discussion. Trinity Forest's greens were at a modest 10.5 on the Stimpmeter.
Yes, Trinity Forest is a wealthy membership with a token First Tee facility and it took millions to convert a landfill into a course only a select few rich guys can join. Quibble with that stuff all day long if you must. But suggesting the design is an example of high-cost maintenance and slow play maintenance would not be accurate.
Captain Thomas Bjorn's five assistants have much Ryder Cup playing experience but very little time behind the wheel, with only a few months to learn the intricacies of maximum passenger loads, ear piece chatter management and the best French versions of "cart on your left".
Of course, perhaps they'll just go the Team America route and appoint drivers for the assistant cart drivers.
Anyhow, let's hope we've maxed out the number of assistants at five...
Somewhere Tom Meeks and Walter Driver aren't liking these comments from current Executive Director Mike Davis, but the truth can be painful:
“It’s been 14 years, and it’s a different time, with different people,” Davis said. “When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf’s ultimate test and is probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf. The difference between then and now is that we have a lot more technology and a lot more data. And frankly, what basically happened then was a lack of water.”
This probably won't bring great comfort to Phil Mickelson, who lost by two with a double at the virtually unplayable 7th hole.
“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”
I'm not sure anyone tuning in early on to the final stroke play day of the NCAA Women's Golf could have come away feeling good about what they saw.
--Six hour rounds.
--Players pushing around grocery cart-sized trolleys with corporate-emblazoned umbrellas.
--Coaches interjecting mind-numbingly simple advice adding to the excruciating pace.
--A lush, tree-choked, traditionally anti-septic Fazio design free of spectators that even friends and family passed on coming to see.
--The debut of a new episode of Driven delayed two hours. But boy those OU and OSU boys know how to board a private jet and leave the bag loading to a luggage handler! America!
Anyway, the entire affair in Stillwater felt like anything but a national championship, despite the fine effort by Golf Channel and the course maintenance team. And what a shame, as eventual individual winner Jennifer Kupcho is a phenomenal redemption story, pulling away to victory in front of her parents and excited teammates.
As Ryan Lavnerrecounts for GolfChannel.com, Kupcho lost last year's individual title down the stretch and faced a water-lined hole this year to clinch the coveted individual title. This time, she was all clutch and the pride exuded by all made the long slog of a day all worth the payoff.
On the team side, Arizona defeated Baylor in the dark to secure the 8th and final spot in match play starting Tuesday. This afterArizona junior Bianca Pagdanganan (T2 at 6-under par) eagled the 18th hole to force a playoff. The two-hole team playoff ended action two hours after Golf Channel was due to sign off.
Team Match Play Quarterfinal Matchups starting at 10 am CT:
The 20th (!) TigerJam last weekend raised big money and to introduce recent Earl Woods Scholar Desiree Sim, who is going into social work after graduating Skidmore College. So there was at least one person in Las Vegas last weekend doing something to make the world a better place!
While she was no doubt more impressive than the Elvis impersonator, I would love to know who the (undisclosed) live auction winner was of the chance to carry Tiger's bag:
The reception wrapped with a thrilling live auction, filled with luxury items such as an Advance Package Acura MDX SH and unforgettable golf experiences at Bluejack National, Diamante Cabo San Lucas and the 2018 Hero World Challenge which includes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to caddie for Tiger Woods during his Pro-Am round at Albany, Bahamas raising $50,000 for TGR Foundation. Sugar Ray Leonard surprised the crowd as he joined Chris Harrison on stage to help auction off not one, but two packages for a one-of-a-kind experience to spend the day with the boxing legend.
Oh the questions that lucky looper must pose, or at least try to pose, right?
Maybe The Stinger Fan Club chair ponied up to ask the question we scribblers always come so close and yet so far from asking: why not more stingers? Either way, it's for a good cause.
The players who join would likely say goodbye to the PGA Tour, a healthy retirement plan and world ranking points that help get them in majors and maintain endorsement deals.
“Every player’s deal is centred around world ranking points,” leading British agent Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler, who is aware of the proposed World Golf Series, told Reuters.
“This series will never get world ranking points, so it will cost people money in the end. I think there are a lot of obstacles to get over."
As Both notes, the proposal sounds "eerily" similar to Greg Norman's 1990's idea for a world tour of elite players.
What I can't understand: what need does this fill? Between the WGC's and Rolex Series, are fans clamoring to see the world's best get together more for double the purse size? If the venues and locales were special, there might be some intrigue initially. But there still needs to be some other twist that captures our attention.
Our eyes did not deceive us during Aaron Wise's debut win at Trinity Forest: he put on a ball-striking display for the ages.
Wise dominated in strokes gained off the tee and approaching the green:
The size of Trinity Forest's greens and high field average (84%) does not diminish his Green-In-Regulation number given where the performance landed historically (which seems to have played a WGC in Mexico in 2006!*):