For me, cream rising to the top doesn’t mean Justin Thomas has to win. In my opinion, Webb was the creamiest of cream at The Players this year.
I honestly don’t care, I just want to be able to see more than 6 players on the coverage on Sunday. I want a leaderboard with a dozen guys within two strokes, which leads me to believe that lends more towards carnage.
Remains to be seen but given the weather we have had and the forecast I doubt the course plays anywhere near what they anticipated.
Yes - Merion can still hold a US Open and they will be getting it in 2030 (100 year anniversary of Bobby Jones’ Grand Slam) where he won the US AM at Merion in 1930.
You’re spot on. Couldn’t agree more.
I’m a fan of lightening quick greens and long rough mixed with runoff areas. Generally always root for chaos and carnage. What’s better than checking the US Open leader board before 8:00 am on Thursday and seeing 3 amateurs tied for 2nd after birdying the first? I’ll tell you… seeing the three consecutive doubles they reel off after that. Love the glorious madness that is our national championship.
Give me the 3rd round of the 2016 Players. I want to see players questioning their career choices.
To me, Bethpage in '09 was exactly what a US Open should be. I want 6 inch rough, lightning fast greens, long par 4s and tough/unfair pin positions.
Erin Hills could have been great, but the USGA went soft of the players.
Early 2000s PGA setups (and the resultant winners) would argue against that. They played at venues that looked like or were set up like regular Tour stops and so we got some winners that looked a lot like regular week Tour winners, even though the best field in the world was there.
David Toms, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel. I mean … Toms had a nice career on Tour and he squeezed out a few other top 10s in majors, but these were otherwise not major contenders. But they raised the trophy. Randomness says that will happen sometimes (Ben Curtis at The Open). Three years in a row at the same major suggests the course and setup had some role to play.
My ideal US Open Winner has a final score of E. Don’t care how they get there
Are we in the nest? Erin Hills was a success.
I want the U.S. Open to be challenging. If I’m choosing between the options presented here, I leaning towards carnage. But there’s a lot of caveats to that:
Great shots need to be rewarded. That’s the ultimate fairness barometer. You can make it challenging as hell, but it at least has to be feasible to achieve a great result if you’re willing to take on risk, and able to execute the shot. Carnage for the sake of carnage does not give you a great tournament.
The conditions should dictate the scoring. Erin Hills got wet, and the wind didn’t blow. That’s not on the USGA. If they set it up any harder, and those conditions do arise, then you get '04 all over again. Erring on the side of too easy should forever be the play rather than erring on the side of losing the golf course. If it blows 25-30 MPH up in Wisconsin last summer, and you’ve got 25 yard fairways with fescue lining both sides, they might still be out there finishing.
Curtis Strange brought up a good point on the podcast about the Oakmont greens being pumped up too much, which is what led to the DJ disaster. The R&A let things get out of control at the Old Course in '15 and had the greens stimping too fast. When the wind blew, they literally couldn’t play the golf course (and it wasn’t THAT windy out there). Opens are planned years in advance, and its success is highly based on the weather in the weeks leading up to it, and during the week of play.
Since the USGA has decided that they’re fine with a golf ball that goes a mile and doesn’t curve, they’ve created a challenge for themselves regarding course setup that borders on impossible. The pros are capable of doing so many absurd things with the golf ball now that basically the only way to challenge them is to make it so their ball doesn’t stop where they want it to. And that’s something that’s left largely to Mother Nature.
Par is irrelevant, always has been, and is even more irrelevant in the distance era. The winner at Erin Hills shot 272. The winners of the three previous U.S. Opens shot 276, 275, 271.
- The course should be setup for risks and rewards. If you want to try to bomb it as far as you want, there better be some challenge in it. It shouldn’t be “safe” to hit driver because that just puts you past all the trouble. A lot of the narrowing the USGA has done out there is in some very sensible places. You want to take on this bunker? That’s fine, it’s more narrow in that part of the fairway if you do though. This way, guys are going to be playing to the left or to the right of hazards that they want to get past, and not just directly over them. Some examples:
1 - In the driver landing area up the left side (plenty of space to lay back with less club)
3 - Past the fairway bunker on the right, as well as down the left side
5 - Over the last left fairway bunker
12 - Over both fairway bunkers
13 - Short of the bunker that’s just short of green side.
14 - Over the right fairway bunker
15 - In the speed slot area, narrowed on both sides. Option to lay back to the top of the hill is much wider.
16 - Again over the bunkers on the left, as well as the bailout area to the right.
Shinnecock Hills is going to make the player think. It’s going to make them execute. If it’s soft, they’re still going to score low, but by no stretch of the imagination will it be easy. That being said, I don’t think carnage should be expected, and I don’t think it should be the standard at which the U.S. Open is judged.
None of this is really remotely true, so let’s go step by step:
I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “looked like,” so I’ll just start with the venues themselves. AAC, Oak Hill, and Hazeltine have collectively hosted 14 professional major championships, 3 US Amateurs, and 2 Ryder Cups. Oak Hill and AAC are two of the oldest clubs in the country, and have a ton of history. Each course has also hosted the US Open, and when they did, the winner each time was a multiple-time major champion. These aren’t exactly TPC courses with cart paths running in between the bunkers and the greens.
As to set-up, the PGA Championship doesn’t really have a reputation for a tough setup. Nevertheless, the cut line in 2001-2003 was +1, +4, and +8. For reference, here are the cut-lines for other PGA Championships in chronological proximity, and their winners:
1997 - Davis Love II - +6
1998 - Vijay - +5
1999 - Tiger - +2
2000 - Tiger - +3
2004 - Vijay - +1
2005 - Phil - +4
2006 - Tiger - EVEN
2007 - Tiger - +5
All of these other tournaments produced great winners at the top of the world at the time. Yet, there is no correlation to how easy/difficult the course played relative to par.
First, David Toms is a 13 time PGA Tour winner who was in the top 5 in the world at that time. Even so, let’s look at who finished second in 01 and 02:
They each lost by a shot, and there were other top 5 players in the world in the top 10s of those tournaments. I’m supposed to believe that the randomness of the winners, though, was due to course setup?
Your only legitimate argument is that somehow Oak Hill’s setup generated weaker players that got away with more mistakes - at that tournament, the T10 is ugly (shoutout Chucky III Sticks). 2003, though, the cut line ended at +8, and the winning score was -4, the second-highest winning PGA score in 30 years.
There is just no data to suggest that any particular setup generates the best winners. Its just an old adage.
This year in particular, I want to see whatever it takes for Phil to earn some redemption.
I think Erin Hills was a relative success. I agree with all of your points except the weather one. Maybe I am being old school and not woke enough but to me the US Open should not be weather dependent, specifically with wind. Look, rain happens. God decides to open up the tear ducts on the one week of the year he has to keep it together–that’s golf it’s gonna happen. But the wind thing I just can’t get on board with. Winged Foot in 2020 isn’t going to gust like crazy to my knowledge (could be totally off base but hey I interact with a guy on a message board who played there so I am practically a member) but is/should be an extremely tough test.
Now you make a compelling case with par being irrelevant and scores being similar to previous Opens but I think a better question is: Is Erin Hills or Chambers the type of course that the US Open should be played on? In my opinion, no. USGA should adopt a rota more or less and rotate between the US’s greatest courses. No offense to the cheeseheads, but I don’t really want to see Erin Hills, I want to see Shinny, Winged Foot, Merion, Pebble, The Country Club etc. etc. Due to it’s strategic elements, width, angles, run off areas, etc. I would love to play Erin Hills but I don’t necessarily want to see it on TV if that makes any sense. Exponentiate that for the casual viewer and sad sack who now thinks Chambers and Erin Hills are the finest golf the US has to offer because he watched for 45 minutes on Sunday and won’t watch the tour until the next major. Is that what we want? I am intrigued by Erin Hills, but it seems perfect for a PGA not US Open.
Finally, to conclude my rant, I would like to propose that this be how each major should be known for
Masters–Strategy and Beauty of Augusta (NOT to be replicated by every golf course trying to be AGNC–Augustafication is real folks and we need to stop it)
US Open–Carnage and the TOUGHEST test in golf… who has the determination to get thorugh 72 holes of Dante’s Inferno
Open Championship–Who can overcome the elements, wind, rain, piss, hail, anything
PGA–tbh who the fuck knows
I’d like to see some carnage for a change after the last couple of years. Can’t understate just how much rain Erin Hills got Friday night/Saturday morning. My buddy and I were camping in a pop-up camper at the tournament and the word torrential doesn’t do it justice. I was legitimately surprised to get to the course Saturday and not see a soggy muddy mess.
I think Erin Hills was a relative success. I agree with all of your points except the weather one. Maybe I am being old school and not woke enough but to me the US Open should not be weather dependent, specifically with wind.
You are thinking about it backwards. It’s not that they were trying to set it up to be weather dependent, they have to set it up conservative because of the weather. Soly referenced the 2015 Open at the Old Course and he’s exactly right. They couldn’t set it up like an Oakmont because if the wind came up they’d finish on the following Tuesday.
The PGA lacks an identity - its place in the game is centered on an era when many tour pros held positions at local country clubs, but that era is over, and the history of that doesn’t really come into view until a guy like DLIII or JT wins it.
Plus, I’ve heard some word out of the USGA that they are irritated that the PGA is scheduled at courses the USGA feels are its courses - Bethpage and Oak Hill (that’s dumb, its always been that way, but nevertheless, they don’t like it).
Not sure that the two bodies have a vested interest in collaborating, but I think it would benefit the PGA and the USGA if they agreed that:
USGA rotates among courses built pre-1950.
PGA rotates among post-1950.
(TFE joked that the Byron this year was the width major - What if the PGA actually became the width major? Also, because I’m not sure this is enough to give the PGA a real identity, I also think they could experiment with giving a single course a 4-year rotation to host the event, other little changes @thefriedegg )
I don’t see a problem having a US Open winner at 3-4 under par with the possibility of carnage within the field. With the modern equipment along with the pro golfer being more fit, narrowing the fairways, growing the rough, and speeding up the greens only makes sense. As to Merion, I was there in 2013 and absolutely that “little” course could host an Open.
Winged Foot is a totally different type of U.S. Open course. it’s in a neighborhood, the property is surrounded by trees (many trees within the course have been removed), and isn’t reliant on the wind. The purpose of going to Erin Hills was that the property it sits on is inherently windy. The course is designed to be played in high winds. It’s designed to be played firm. Winged Foot is not designed to be played in high winds. Its fairways are much, much more narrow, and it is a different kind of test off the tee. If the wind had blown at Erin Hills, it would have been a challenging course off the tee!
The eureka moment for me was this year in Korea. Nine Bridges is very wide, and played very soft on Thursday. 59’s were threatened, and to me, the course did not hold up from a challenge standpoint for Tour players. Fast forward a couple of days, the temperatures cooled off a bit, the wind blew pretty hard, and the greens firmed out. Suddenly those really wide fairways didn’t look or play nearly as wide in those crosswinds as they did on Thursday. JT shot -9 in round one, and was in a playoff three rounds later at that score.
Now, you could easily make the argument that the US Open shouldn’t go to a course like Erin Hills because a tournament shouldn’t be that dependent on the weather. I can agree with elements of that, but I think (after the decision to go Erin Hills had been made), the USGA did all they could to establish a fair championship, and a good test. Just because scores are low, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good test. A course in which a players different skills are not tested is not a good test. For example, the Web.com Tour does not go to many courses that are good tests. Scores are often low at Augusta National (again, Par 72), yet it is one of the best if not the greatest test in all of golf. If your game is off, you get ejected.
I think the PGA should rotate around different areas of the country. The US Open is almost always in the east coast or west coast, but never the southwest or midwest. The PGA seems to favor the east coast too. The midwest only has a major once every 15 years which is crazy. I think like 6 sites should cover it, and just rotate through that. Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, Southwest, and the mountain areas like Colorado/Utah.
Northeast rotation: Oak Hill, Baltusrol, Merion
Southeast rotation: Streamsong Black, Pinehurst #2, Kiawah
Midwest rotation: Olympia Fields, Erin Hills, Medinah
Northwest rotation: Sahalee, Spyglass Hill, Chambers Bay
Southwest rotation: Riviera, LA Country Club, Rustic Canyon
Mountains rotation: Cherry Hills, Ballyneal, The Buck Club
18 courses in the rotation, so you’ll see a course every 18 years but at least the whole country is pretty evenly represented as opposed to how it is now.