Golf’s Fourth Major: The U.S. Open

Chambers Bay - University Place, Washington.

Located in Washington state, Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open, unquestionably has unique and beautiful views.
(Photo courtesy of Golf Week)

At what point in golf history did the USGA decide to make the U.S. Open a circus? These days, it seems, the USGA tries to make it more about themselves than about the game of golf. Why does Chambers Bay look like a course from Scotland? Isn’t this the U.S. Open? And why is the course so gimmicky, that caddies are being wheeled off via stretchers?

These thoughts and questions swirled through my mind as I consumed all the media coverage possible regarding Chambers Bay.

I finally concluded: it doesn’t have to be like this.

But it is like this, and that is why the U.S. Open has become my least favorite major.

“The more I read about the course, Chambers Bay seems almost foreign, in an odd sense. It doesn’t capture the true feel of an American golf course, at least the ones I grew up on. Would we expect the British Open to be played on a course like Augusta National?”

I clearly understand the appeal of watching the likes of Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, or Luke Donald struggle to make pars, just like the average golfer would on their average day. It’s obvious the U.S. Open is supposed to be a tough test – the toughest week in all of golf. It’s partly why we watch, why so many of us try to qualify, and how so many of us relate to the event. But, I also want to see good golf shots get rewarded, not simply by luck, but by skill. Luck is already a key aspect to the sport; so let’s not emphasize it even more. I’m all for making the course challenging – make it firm, make it fast, and make the rough thick. Simply put, let’s just make it a golf course.

There have been stories of an average walking time of 21-minutes from greens to the next tee. There have been stories of nearly one-hundred foot elevation changes, conditions so drastic that they caused amateur champion Peter Uihlein to hit 2-iron one day, and wedge the next day.

The more I read about the course, Chambers Bay seems almost foreign, in an odd sense. It doesn’t capture the true feel of an American golf course, at least the ones I grew up on. Would we expect the British Open to be played on a course like Augusta National?

In general, I am curious as to why the course has to be gimmicky and so extreme that even spectators do not enjoy attending. Is that good for the game of golf? I used to think that all of this hype, the overall difficulty conjured by the USGA when they create their once a year spectacle, helped improve the longevity of the game.

However, those beliefs came to a screeching halt when I attended last year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. The scorching hot mid-June sun in North Carolina, in conjunction with the massive crowds (did they oversell tickets, I wondered?), provided the worst viewing of any golf tournament. After my first U.S. Open experience, it affirmed my worst fears: the U.S. Open was a miserable golf tournament to attend. Pinehurst’s renovations of the course were essential to bring the U.S. Open back to no. 2, and the renovations were fine. The course played easier than expected last year, and Martin Kaymer ended up running away with it. The fan experience? Not so great, and that’s a problem that has gotten even worse with Chambers Bay, according to several fans who attended practice rounds.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the golf course will play reasonably normal, we will get to see some great golf shots, and it will be a joy to watch. Everything that we have heard discussed and seen take place over the last few days regarding Chambers Bay, that’s not American golf.

I’d love to see the USGA make the U.S. Open playable and fun for spectators. Let’s show the fans who only tune in a few times of the year that the U.S. Open can be the number one major championship; our championship – an embodiment of the greatest country on earth.

I say it can be done…

Come on USGA, let’s make golf fun again.

About Tyler Michels

Tyler is an NC State alum living in Raleigh, NC. Growing up in Northwest New Jersey, Tyler developed a love for New York sports teams, driving his desire to become a writer. In his free time, Tyler can probably be found on a golf course.

Comments

  1. I spent most of my day yesterday watching the US Open and I was amazed at the disgusting quality of the course. There was and is no way to make Birdies or even a Par on those Greens. USGA you GOOFED on this on. Shame on you.

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