An Autopsy Called The U. S. Open
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you analyze golf's four major championships, you find that all of them are really very different in what they do to challenge the golfer and his mettle. And this U.S. Open promises to be the "classic open test", based on what I saw for a little while yesterday afternoon. Tiny greens, firm and fast conditions and gnarly rough everywhere will take these guys out of their week-in, week-out comfort zone of playing relative pushover golf courses with large greens that are soft and receptive, and rough that really isn't, all that much. No, this week, all the weaknesses of their games, both in the sense of skills and mental approach, will be revealed for all the world to see.
The Open at Pebble Beach has produced four outstanding champions in Nicklaus, Kite, Watson and Woods, but who will prevail this week? My bet is that it will be either a proven major champion or possibly one of the lesser-known pros who we might not have even thought of. Because what this Open championship will demand is a complete presence of mind to accept what the golf course deals out, and play on through. It will require the golfer to be able to step outside his normal tournament mindset and play differently, more defensively, more strategically. And accept that there will be disasters along the way.
There will not be the huge greens with collection areas like we see so often on the PGA Tour. There will be no landing strip fairways, and it won't be a "bomb and throw darts" kind of contest. The greens, by Saturday and Sunday, will not be the no-flaw pool tables these guys are accustomed to.
This one will require them to play par golf, and that is not what they are mentally trained or prepared to do (most of these guys haven't thought 72 was a good score since they were in their teens!). Imagine if you found yourself on a golf course that was maybe 8-15 shots harder than the one you were familiar with. If your normal score was not only totally unattainable, but not even approachable. If what you were used to seeing the ball do . . . it just would not do. It would throw you so far out of your mental comfort zone, your basic ability to hit the golf shots you know would be compromised. That's what the U.S. Open does to the "lesser players" on the PGA Tour.
Every week, these guys bomb for birdies, knowing it will take 15-25 of them in 72 holes to have a chance to win. Par is what they "settle for", when the birdie isn’t made. And bogey is that rare hiccup that sneaks in, but can be compensated for with another string of birdies. Those that are "on" make the cut and possibly contend; those that aren't pack it up for the next week. But not here. Not at Pebble Beach. Not at the U.S. "friggen" Open!
As you sequester yourself away from the family and park in front of the TV for the endless hours of watching this unfold, pay attention to how each player changes his approach to playing in an attempt to deal with the challenge at hand. By this afternoon, some will be packing and headed on down the road. Imagine how it must feel to be a tour professional, one of the best 150 or so golfers in the world . . . who just got humbled by shooting a couple of 80s . . . or worse.
"Hey, I'm a PGA Tour champion and just shot 80. How the heck did that happen?"
You can call me a sicko, but I think it's fun to watch these over-pampered guys, who play perfect golf courses and shoot lights out every week, have their stuff handed to them by something as simple as a golf course. And I can’t wait to see more of it.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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[ comments ]
I just don't get the draw and fuss people make over this golf course. I have played a course in "Baja' California that followed the ocean and looked as good as Peddle Beach, and didn't cost near as much. The greens look so patchy and dead in spots. I guess everything is better in Califorina, but give me "Caledonia Fish and Golf Club" for 1/4 the price.
How many times do I have to hear Johnny Miller after someone makes a good shot say "Just like Tiger did"?
That was an exciting weekend. I can't believe that Tiger, Phil, and Ernie all managed to choke. Good golf.
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