What’s at stake at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock
After hosting a tumultuous U.S. Open in 2004, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and the USGA have a second chance at getting it right.
Released on 6/5/2018
I think there's a lot to lose,
there's a lot to gain as well.
But, I think what there is to lose is any kind of reprise
or any kind of specter of 2004 coming back.
That was the first time that Shinnecock
really was dealing with the modern game
that had advanced tremendously to the advancement
of the golf ball right around 2000, 1999.
The ball was going farther.
And as a result Shinnecock was playing shorter.
The USGA decided let's, we need to push the conditions here
so it's harder to get the ball closer to the hole
'cause they're hitting too many wedges.
It finally caught up with them
on the seventh green on Sunday
where they got caught a little bit under estimating
the wind drying out the green.
And by mid-morning, it was clear the green
was just not able to hold shots anymore.
And balls were rolling into the bunker,
off the falls front, kind of uncontrollably.
It looked bad.
And it was bad in terms of unfairness to the players.
And so they had to stop play
and actually put water on the green.
And just that spectacle,
of watering the green in the middle of the round,
when some of the players hadn't played it yet,
suddenly it was like, man, the USGA really screwed up.
Shinnecock looked like an inappropriate site,
like it couldn't hold The Open anymore
because it was just too short and the game had outgrown it.
And so it left a bad taste.
Because of what happened in 2004,
they're clearly worried about it being stigmatized again.
So, they're being extremely careful to make sure
that Shinnecock has the challenge that they really want.
If there's a sense that the setup didn't work
or that the golf course, as great as it is,
simply doesn't challenge the greatest players anymore
without being tricked up, that devalues Shinnecock,
that devalues The US Open, it makes the USGA look inept.
And all those things, in a very sensitive time for golf,
would be debilitating to the USGA and The Open.
And The Open has to be successful
for the USGA to be successful, that's where they're judged.
But, everybody can see on the greatest stage
whether The US Open was a success or not.
And it's sometimes judged unfairly.
By the same token it's got a lot to gain
because of quote unquote glorious US Open at Shinnecock
on this incredible ideal pure site of golf.
Elevates golf in general and brings The US Open
back to perhaps being considered the most interesting
and the most compelling championship.