This week is US Open week in the golf world. Since I began playing golf at 11 or 12 years old the US Open has always been my favorite golf tournament.
Aside from the fact that it’s my national championship, no other tournament provides for such a thorough examination of a player’s game. With deep rough and firm, slick greens, driving accuracy is at a premium, which is rare for professional golf these days. With the exception of the 2011 and 2017 events (when rains softened the courses), you simply cannot hold US Open greens when you’re playing out of the deep rough. You must keep the ball in play, which often necessitates taking less club off the tee and thinking your way around the course. The current “bomb and gouge” philosophy that is so prevalent on the PGA Tour each week is not a strategy that works during the US Open.
And then there is the typical US Open venue. Steeped in tradition and history, most US Opens are played at old, top-of-the-pinnacle clubs like Shinnecock Hills (this year’s venue), Oakmont, Winged Foot, and Olympic Club. Throw in world-renowned public venues like Pebble Beach (next year’s host) and Pinehurst No. 2 and you have the perfect canvas with which to paint a major championship. Recently the USGA (the organization that conducts the US Open) has ventured off the beaten path to public courses such as Chambers Bay and Erin Hills, and the results have been less-than-stellar. That has diminished some of the luster of the US Open, but now that we’re back to a world-class venue like Shinnecock Hills I expect the good times to roll once more.
If you have a little time this weekend, watch the best players in the world try and navigate what should be the toughest set-up they’ll face all year. If nothing else, watching them struggle will show you that golf is a tough game for everyone, even if you play it for a living.