The U.S Open Course Set Up has Beaten Down The World's Best Golfers
((Round 4 Pin Placements/@USGA))
It's a simple question: Is watching the World's Best Golfers struggle on the golf course good or bad?
The answer I suspect will depend on who you ask.
Most fans and people who struggle to master the game of golf will probably revel in the struggle of Multi-Millionaire's struggling and hitting shots that do things us amateurs do all the time.
However if you ask the guys in the tournament--there's a really good chance one of them may bite your head off.
This week's U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island has already conquered the guys playing the course. The battle has been lost. The USGA routinely tricks out the courses hosting their annual championship with crazy high roughs and lightning fast greens.
This year, add in some pin placements which in Round 3 were darn near unreachable and the scores showed it.
Round 2 Leader Dustin Johnson shot a 77 in Round 3. He's still tied for the lead at 3-over par. 3 guys in the field, the entire field shot 70 (even) or less.
Four guys shot 80 or above. Phil Mickelson shot an 81 and basically lost his shit in frustration by hitting a putted ball before it rolled off the green. Rickie Fowler--he shot an 84.
Unfortunately I can't find video of it, but I saw Andrew "Beef" Johnston, hit a pitch on the 7th hole after his drive landed short of the green.
Beef looked to be about 15-feet or so beneath the lip of the green, the 1st shot he hit landed on the edge and instead of rolling down towards the pin, rolled right back to him landing exactly where it started.
For their part--the USGA said after the round they "Might" have made the course too difficult...
The good: Almost anyone can win. Pretty much anyone between 3-over and 9-over par has a shot. The list is about 20 or so golfers long. All it takes is someone going lights out. Which is possible. When Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Daniel Berger are the only ones who shoot under par, it means anyone can win.
This premise makes for the possibility of an exciting finish or a battle of attrition to see who is still standing.
The bad: Fans love seeing the golfers struggle. So many people watching on TV...or even in person don't empathize with the pros...at all. And while the Professionals have a legitimate complaint about a difficult course not rewarding them for good shots...it is very hard to feel sorry for them due to the obscene amount of money they get paid to do it.
So how to you balance the two out? Golf is not fun to watch when the golfers are shooing 20 or 25 under par. They love it, but it is incredibly hard to get fans into it.
But at the same time, competition where there are 10 to 20 people in contention, with a chance to win if they play well is great. It builds excitement and anticipation. And that is what the USGA, PGA and any other acronym hosting a golf tournament should be shooting for.
While I'm dating this column by writing about Round 3 instead of after the fact and a winner has stepped up, its good "Food for thought". The USGA has a delicate balancing act and more often than not gets criticized by the golfers no matter how they set up the course.
And they intentionally make it a challenge. Major golf tournaments should not be easy. They should not be ordinary and they should provide a difficult struggle in order to find a winner.
It's why Golf has "Major" tournaments that aren't played in some random U.S city.
Appreciate it for what it is and know the golfers will stop complaining when they get to play in the next tournament where they can shoot a weekend's worth of rounds in the 60's....