Growing up, the US Open was always the ultimate test given to players on the PGA Tour. It would be like taking all of your exams in one day each day for four days. The teeth of a US Open course was appealing to the eye. Not because weekend duffers like myself want to see the Tour guys struggle but because the test was so hard, it brought out the best in golfers. Even par was solid. -3 was spectacular. It’s why, outside of The Open, it was always my favorite major but for how long?
Last year’s US Open saw Brooks Koepka shoot -16 (272) at Erin Hills Golf Club. Though the USGA had “penalizing rough” it was pointed out by Luke Kerr-Dineen that the fairways were 60 yards wide at some points. This might have been the USGA’s way of giving today’s Tour Players a “sporting chance” to shoot an eye popping score.
Shinnecock Hills’ makeover will provide a similar advantage this year. The course will not look the way it did in 2004. The layout has been “modernized” in a way that could take a major step in the other direction. With the fairways being 40-45 yards wider and only 450 yards longer than it did in 2004, what defense will Shinnecock Hills have against the hottest golfer on the planet? Dustin Johnson.
The course sets up perfectly for long hitters like Johnson. If he’s on top of his game this could be out of reach by Saturday.
Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka both said that this is a second shot course.
Translation: They wont be hitting just driver and wedge all week. #USOpen
— Ron Mintz (@MintzGolf) June 12, 2018
This should scare the rest of the field. If Johnson feels that comfortable without driver in hand, what does that say?
The only way for Shinnecock Hills to defend itself is on the greens. USGA CEO, Mike Davis, defended the wider fairways by implying that the greens and, it’s surrounding area, will make up for it.
…closely mown areas around the putting greens, that really was a restoration. If you look out here this week, it will be very evident. And so many of these greens, if you miss it, these closely mowns are just going to take you away from the greens.
Today’s golfers hit the ball with more precision than ever but a little punishment on and around the green might be somewhat of an equalizer for what seems to be, a more charitable layout. Past champion, Tiger Woods, seems to agree with Davis.
The greens aren’t quite up to probably speed yet, but they’re right where they want them. And as the golf course dries out, this golf course is going to be another great U.S. Open test. -Tiger Woods
So old heads like myself are taking a “wait and see” approach. If the golf course plays “fair” that will be a welcome relief. But, if the course plays like the Fort Worth Invitational, we will be left with a heavy sigh and thoughts of the glory days of the US Open.