By Robert Bicknell
Ahh, it’s almost time for the US Open again and that means it’s time to bash the USGA before the USGA bashes the “best players in the world” with a ridiculous course set up, but this year will be a little different because the USGA's Mike Davis has relinquished course-setup duties to John Bodenhamer, who has run USGA amateur championships since 2011.
Davis is the genius who brought us such favorites as the mishandling of the Dustin Johnson ruling at Oakmont in 2016 and the ravaged greens at Chambers Bay in 2015, the set up which caused Phil Mickelson to temporarily lose his mind and intentionally hit a moving ball in last year’s US Open, the new rules for 2019, and its poor roll-out which resulted in severe mockery by the Tour players and, I’m sure, many amateurs as well.
In a nutshell, the USPGA Tour players are not happy with the USGA by any stretch of the imagination and have actually considered boycotting the US Open until changes were made.
Now, I have my own axe to grind with the USGA because I don’t think their Amateur Status definition is even remotely fair on a worldwide scale. They seem to think that all amateurs who give a lesson are wealthy or on college teams. A poor kid from a third world country has very few opportunities to help his family survive. He has virtually no sponsorship to continue training to become a professional and certainly isn’t going to university on a golf scholarship. So, why not let him give a lesson or two and help his parents put food on the table?
The why is because stuffed shirts sitting on overly-stuffed leather chairs, smoking cigars and sipping from snifters of cognac decreed it as such. These are the same people who, given their way, would still not golf professionals change clothes in locker rooms, eat in the restaurant, nor allow women as members.
Yeah, I know I’m overdramatizing it, but that’s how I feel. The R&A and USGA have no business, in my opinion, of getting involved in professional golf as they are amateurs overseeing the game for amateurs. But on the other hand, professionals should be involved in setting up amateur events because that’s what we are trained to do.
Now, before I continue my unreasonable tirade, I need to point out that the Việt Nam Golf Association (VGA) can probably sympathize with the USGA at this point because they get no respect either, no matter how hard they try, there will always be someone ready to quack up a storm.
In a survey, Golf Digest asked the Tour pros, top teachers and others about their feelings towards the USGA. Naturally, none of them would agree to have their names printed. After all, why antagonize those who currently make the rules?
Needless to say, it was a bloodbath. Not one good thing was said about the USGA and this shows they have some major problems to fix before everything spins out of control.
The biggest comment from the Tour Players was, “What will they [the USGA] do to screw up the US Open at Pebble Beach this year? Many claim that Pebble Beach was almost unplayable in 2010.
Many of the suggestions are actually quite correct. They reminded us that the US Open is known for tight fairways, so they said to do that, but let “Pebble be Pebble”.
While I would normally agree with sane, logical suggestions, I don’t when it comes to the US Open because I like to see the “best in the world” fall to their knees while letting loose bloodcurdling screams of anguish.
Hey, amateurs do that every weekend all over the world, so why should the Tour pros be exempt?
Anyway, with the USGA’s Mike Davis on the sidelines, we can only wait to see how the new guy works out, but I have a feeling he will be a lot more sane when it comes to the set up as he’s done the US Amateur for many years.
It might kill a bit of the fun for us at home watching, but it, hopefully, will provide for a better tournament. Sure, they can make the course tough, but not borderline unplayable.
My advice, let the pros take care of the pros. VNS