A Thread for Contrarian Takes


  • Erin Hills had 4 guys tied at -7 (137), 3 at -6 (138). DJ is leading by 4 at 136 this year
  • Erin Hills is 400 yards longer. Maybe thats where the extra 2 strokes in par comes from??
  • Erin Hills scoring average first 2 rounds: 73.3. Shinny first 2 rounds: 75.0

Other than that, nice tweet.


NY golf fans are the worst.


You can continue to shift the goalposts on the “par is irrelevant” discussion, but the point remains the same. The result of every stroke play championship in the history of the golf would be the exact same regardless if the par of the course was 90 or 45. Of course par helps you track where a player stands, gives amateur something to shoot for, and helps track current status.

The point that anyone arguing “par is irrelevant” is trying to make is that the goal is always to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes possible. The par of the hole does not change that intention. The point is that, par is irrelevant when discussing whether a course is a fair test, whether it’s a “proper US Open”, whether a course is too easy or too hard, blah blah blah.

The definition:

In golf, par is the predetermined number of strokes that a scratch (or 0 handicap) golfer should require to complete a hole, a round (the sum of the pars of the played holes), or a tournament (the sum of the pars of each round).

The top pros are somewhere in the +5 to +8 handicap range. To them, par as defined is completely irrelevant.


I get the argument, I really do. I just think par is actually relevant when evaluating a “proper US Open,” or the difficulty of any course. If the USGA and Shinnecock – and William Flynn when he designed it – set up the golf course with the intent that par for a pro golfer should be 70 shots, it’s interesting to see how that stacks up and how hard it is to reach that goal. Par matters – it may mean a different thing to pros and amateurs, like you said in regards to handicap, but it still matters. It gives us a benchmark to measure pros against and it gives us amateurs a goal to shoot for.


To me, this seems like your opinion is that par isn’t that important, but it still has some utility. This isn’t a bad opinion. “Par is irrelevant” is just a little overbroad.


Lost in all this “par is irrelevant” debate is its massive psychological effect on players. Having a 5 footer for birdie is a completely different stress level than having a 5 footer for par or bogey. A guy who makes 3 birdies in a row has a very different confidence level than the guy who has made 3 bogeys in a row. Branching off this, par then also has an impact on strategy. Players often play more or less aggressively based off their performance to par.

To get rid of par means to get rid of all of these mind games, which I think are part of the fun of the game. I don’t know how one can say without par as a benchmark, all of those scenarios I mention stay the same. I agree it’s mostly pointless when debating a “proper U.S. Open” but to say it’s irrelevant is just silly.


What Phil did today was pretty funny and as he said, anyone truly bothered by it needs to “toughen up” because he doesn’t have much to apologize for.


Wide fairways: great for resort golf, STINKS for professional golf.


This is just simply not true though…

This totally rejects any psychological impacts on a golf score. Making birdies and clutch par saves creates momentum. It does have an effect and does change the overall score. Making bogeys is deflating. Having no set par for a hole erases all of that.

Par is absolutely relevant and exists for a reason.


Finally, I just posted but your post nailed it.

This whole par is irrelevant discussion is silly and without merit. It exists for a reason and is a huge part of the game.


Just can’t get down with the idea that without Par, you lose the psychological element of the game. Par, as the definition of the rule states, is different for pro golfers. They will look at a hole and have an expectation of what they will make on the hole and compare it to the fields performance on the hole. If they are expecting to have a wedge in hand after a good drive, they fully expect to make a 3 - when they do not, it is still deflating.

Making a 5 on a straightforward, 520 yard hole will still feel like they left a shot out there. Missing a 6 footer for a 4 on a two-shot hole will still be deflating. This doesn’t magically disappear because the scorecard is missing a line of text on it.


Take: If the US Open adopted the modified stableford format, the ratings would increase by 20% and within 3 years we’d see more tournaments adopting it too because it’s just so damn exciting.

Let’s play out the tournament under stableford conditions. Obviously, there’s a huge psychological and strategic factor lost in these numbers, but if you just look at their scores then Patrick Reed is your US Open Champion by one point.

Clearly we can’t just look at these numbers and think P Reed would have been the champion, because it would have changed the whole strategy of how guys played. But just think of the scenarios unfolding on sunday here…Fleetwood in the clubhouse at 11, P Reed coming in at 12, then Koepka needing to NOT make bogey on 18 to force a playoff. I don’t think you would have seen that second shot from him if this was the case. It would have been infinitely more riveting.


Monday Morning QB take.

cc: Golden Age Golf Twitter

What makes a good US Open course? If the USGA isn’t going to allow a course to be played “the way it was meant to be played”, then what’s the worth of sticking to (mostly) elite private golf clubs on the coasts? Sure, Shinnecock is a top 10 course, and if I have had the fortunate opportunity to play it, maybe I would sing a different tune, but I am getting worn a little thin about the media equating the best golf to the most inaccessible courses in the world. I know Joe was just filling airspace during an intro, but I once heard him say: “Have your pick when you come to the Hampton’s: National, Sebonack, Shinny, Maidstone” I don’t want to read him literally, but legitimately .001% of the golfing population would have that “pick”. That follwoing a USGA commercial on playing 9 at your local muni is a bad visual.

Shinnecock is a great course and I see how it would be a mental challenge to play, but I don’t think it showed well at all this week. It was, again, a conversation about the USGA and their setup. The difficulty of the championship was more correlated to the juice Mike Davis put into the course than the intended design of William Flynn. No fault to Andy I love reading his stuff everyday, but I felt like @thefriedegg was on defense all weekend on twitter trying to prove that the course was working.

So here’s my take … with the money the USGA pours into championships each year at all these clubs + what those respected clubs probably put into as well + any other revenue stream they have, let’s get some money in on this and let the USGA find whatever land they want and build THE ultimate championship site. Make is 36, 54, 108 holes, reversible, cross country routing, double greens, shared fairways, you name it, but let he USGA create from a blank slate what their championship golf course should be every year. Host all the events there you want and let the public play in off season, but everyone knows the US Open will be there and it will be f****** hard. They choose their grass and they stimp it to what they want. The catch is they have a player committee, and their proposed course has to be unanimously approved. Each year can bring in consulting architects to tweak the setup, the routing, the course, and create a new test. It can adapt if 8,000 becomes a thing, or if fescue rough now needs to go down the centerline, or if a ring bunker should surround the cup.

My point is the US Open is trying to create the ultimate battle for golf on a new ground each year and I think they are either wildly out of touch with what the players/public think is fair, or they just can’t get it right because it’s a new site each year. If they want to be consistent on their intent to be a full examination, maybe they need a consistent environment.


Agreed 100%. I’m pretty tired of people/golf architecture twitter calling places like Shinnecock “American treasures” when they are also ultra-private and totally inaccessible to the public. I enjoy twitter accounts like Cavalier Golf Photos, however, it frustrates me so much that I or 99% of golfers will not get to play 90% of the courses he features (unless you get very lucky with a connection). I guess this is more a comment on the private golf culture of America though.

Disagree with the USGA building their own venue though. U.S. Open has to be a rotation. If the USGA is not going to roll back equipment (they should) and also wants to protect par (they should) they need to make the fairways narrower. If the fairways weren’t so wide this week they wouldn’t have had to trick the greens or pins up so much to keep the scores up. Just make the fairways narrow, grow the rough, firm up the greens, keep the greens at 11 and see what happens.


So Winged Foot every year! :slight_smile:

Here’s me oscillating…if their ultimate test needs to fit those parameters because there can be no variation to that without players dousing the course in red, then the game has become too one-dimensional at the professional level.


I don’t want to put words in your mouth but this is essentially just having a moving par (field performance on the hole), instead of a fixed par. Either way you slice it, it’s the same act of taking your own score and comparing it to some benchmark. This basically makes par relevant.

In my opinion, the “par is irrelevant” group is essentially saying that the scoring doesn’t matter, since we all agree that par is just a method for keeping score. The suggestion seems to be to have guys play golf, keep track of strokes, add it up at the end, and declare a winner. And guys would essentially just be flying blind because they’d have no way of knowing if they are losing or gaining ground on the leaders. I’m not sure how anyone thinks that’s a good idea. Any suggestion of “oh, well, we will come up with another way to keep score” is just admitting that keeping score is important and par is relevant.


Par’s relevance has nothing to do with handicap, it has to do with the way golf is played. Each player plays against the golf course, and architects conceive that holes will be played with 1/2/3 strokes, and two putts. When a player takes fewer, he got the better of the golf course; when a player takes more, the course wins; and when a player plays to par, then they play to a draw.

Clayton discussed this premise a ton on the NLU pod towards the end of '17: for years, the golf courses consistently won in relation to the elite player. Then, for a long period from the 50s-early 2000s, there was a balance and fairness in the competition; now, even the thick part of the bell curve for elite players have a significant advantage over championship courses.

Professional golfers have not been scratch/“0” HCP players for probably 75 years. Yet, for the duration of that time, par has nevertheless been used as a measure for how a professional player played in relation to a championship course. Now, however, I’m supposed to dispose with par just because scores have come down? That doesn’t make sense.

We can all concede that elite players are going to destroy par and the golf course in an awful world where the ball goes 10 miles and doesn’t spin. Perhaps the fan needs to prepare for that. But to see what’s in front of one’s nose is a constant struggle, and I’m amazed that people can advocate to restrict the ball without realizing that they make that argument because they want par to remain relevant to today’s game.


In other words, sure, par is irrelevant to how one golfer competes against another, but it is absolutely relevant to explain the competitive balance between golfers and golf courses.


In professional golf, what does it matter how players do against the course? If they “beat” the course for the day, unfortunately that is not what hoists trophies and 4’X3’ checks. Multiple under par gets cut week in and week out, but using this theory, they “beat” the course yet go home on Friday night. This is the exact reason why you can dismiss the idea of par in professional golf. Totally agree Par is the measuring stick in amateur golf - if we keep true to the ideals that am golf is identical to professional golf, par has to stay.

You are correct in how I worded this. Andy’s back and forth about a moving par was fairly cringy. I’m not sure losing par is the right idea, because as you said:

However, I cannot get on board with the idea that the “par is irrelevant” debaters think keeping score should be thrown out the window - this is just too drastic of a shift and no good for viewing. I also cannot get behind the idea that if we lose par, these guys will simply be “flying blind”. This is just not the case. They will know if they are playing well, where others stand in the tournament given the hole they are on, and how many strokes they need to take coming into the house to have a chance.


It matters because competitive balance matters in sports.

-A baseball flies farther when hit by a bat with cork in it.
-A baseball pitch curves more with scuffs on it.

The sport disallows these things because they throw off the competitive balance between pitchers and hitters.

Some might not care about that - they want to take the restrictor plates off, and let golf go wherever technology will take it. If you have that view, you probably feel that the competition between players in the field is enough to keep you interested as a viewer.

I just disagree - I think golf is less interesting when the player doesn’t have an adequate test from the course itself.