We’re nearing the half-way mark of the 2018 U.S. Open and once again the USGA has allowed the golf course to be the star of the show. Some people enjoy the tradition of the U.S. Open being an extreme test of golf. Others complain that the tournament is more about survival than a challenging test of the game. I just wish we were sitting here talking about the players more than we are about Shinnecock Hills.
The course itself, while an American classic links-style layout, is not particularly interesting. I think the following tweet from Mr. Dan Jenkins sums it up best:
My problem with Shinnecock is, yeah, it's brutally tough, but there's no one hole you want to take home with you, and no flush of holes to remember, like Amen Corner at Augusta, Abalone Corner at Pebble, the quarry at Merion, the finish at Oakmont.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) June 15, 2018
Ultimately, for me, it comes down to the greens. We’ve seen too many good shots not rewarded. We’ve seen too many putts bobble offline or become simply impossible to stop near the hole. Go ahead and punish the player that doesn’t hit it straight. Go ahead and have your deep rough and narrow fairways. But be sure that your course also rewards a well-struck golf shot. We should never be giving out our national championship to the player that got the fewest bad breaks on the greens. This tournament is starting to feel like that is exactly where we are headed.
We aren’t talking about Shinnecock 2004 or Chambers Bay 2015, but if this course gets much firmer, and the greens get much faster, we won’t be very far off either.
The USGA knows they need to keep this course from crossing over the line. For some, like myself, it’s already over it. For traditionalists, the folks the USGA seems most interested in pleasing, they have this course just about where they like it. It will be a challenge for them to keep it on that razors edge through the weekend.
Oh, and can the USGA please stop running those ads for how they are changing the rules to make the game more fun while we watch them humiliate the greatest players in the game with this course? Who do they think they will attract to try golf when they see these conditions?