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Old 06-17-2018, 04:06 PM
aceplace57 is online now
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Golfers - what's going on with US Open?


*disclaimer* I don't golf.

I recall reading that golf courses are carefully designed. That each hole has a certain difficulty and approach. I got the impression the course design doesn't normally change. That pros have to learn different courses from years of experience.

Would you mind explaining this to the people that don't golf? What's a setup and pins?

The wind blowing the ball, I understand.

https://nypost.com/2018/06/16/usga-r...-course-setup/
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“I thought we were close to the edge,’’ Zach Johnson said of the course after shooting a respectable 72, “but we’ve pretty much surpassed it. It’s done. It’s pretty much shot. In my opinion, this is one of the best pieces of land in the country. It’s as good as it gets for a golf course. Unfortunately, they’ve lost the golf course.’’

Justin Thomas, after shooting 74 and moving up the leaderboard, echoed Johnson’s sentiments.

“This is Shinnecock Hills, it doesn’t need to be set up to anything crazy,’’ Thomas said. “It’s hard. When [the wind] blows 15, 20 miles an hour, its really hard. And when you get some very, very difficult pins, it’s really, really, really hard. It doesn’t need to be set up tricky or crazy for this place to be difficult.

“Obviously, there’s nothing they can do about it now. I’m sure they wish they could have had some of those pins over.’’

Last edited by aceplace57; 06-17-2018 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 06-17-2018, 04:22 PM
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They move the cups (pins) around on the greens to change the way that particular hole plays. It sounds like they took a difficult golf course and made it crazy hard, even for pros.
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Old 06-17-2018, 04:44 PM
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I believe there are other groundskeeping tricks that can affect how the course plays, like applying less water on the greens in the days leading up to the tournament. If the greens are firmer and dryer, the ball will tend to roll farther, and there's less margin for error. I think the U.S. Open, which is not played at the same course every year, is set up to be particularly difficult.
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
I believe there are other groundskeeping tricks that can affect how the course plays, like applying less water on the greens in the days leading up to the tournament. If the greens are firmer and dryer, the ball will tend to roll farther, and there's less margin for error. I think the U.S. Open, which is not played at the same course every year, is set up to be particularly difficult.
The goal is for the winner at the US Open to be at about par. Many tournaments will have a winner at -10, -15 or even -20.

The set up might include hight of the rough, placement of the tee boxes, dryness of the greens, the placement of the holes (pins refer to the flags that mark the holes). Drier greens make for a much more difficult playing experience-- harder to make the approach shots "stick" and the putts are much faster making the downhill putts very tricky.
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:19 PM
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The USGA seem to view it as a failure on their part if the winner is below par. They try to set the course up to be as difficult as possible and still playable, with very small margins of error in order to be able to reward the most precise shot-making. It seems as though they've gone a bit over the edge of what is normal in the minds of some pros. But if they were shooting 72 and 74, even if it's a par 70, they can't complain that much, since that's a perfectly good score at a US Open. Now, the real issue is if they have set up the course to leave no margin of error at all, such that it is flat-out impossible to have the ball stop anywhere near the hole if it doesn't go in. In that case, it becomes manifestly unfair even if you theoretically could execute it perfectly, because there's environmental margins of error that can't be controlled for that affect the movement of the ball - you should be able to play a shot such that if it doesn't go in, you're at least left with a short putt. But when the pins are at locations where that's no longer the case, people are going to complain.
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:31 PM
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I can see that good play should be rewarded.

I was having trouble understanding the strategy of the US Open. I didn't know the goal was to make the pros shoot par and not go under.

Thank you for the explanation.

Quote:
some aspects of the setup that went too far in the sense that well-executed shots were not only not rewarded, but penalized, and we don’t want this,’’ Davis said. “Frankly, we just missed it with the wind. 
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Old 06-18-2018, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I can see that good play should be rewarded.

I was having trouble understanding the strategy of the US Open. I didn't know the goal was to make the pros shoot par and not go under.

Thank you for the explanation.
The USGA decided sometime in the 1960s, when equipment changes and greenskeeping improvements were causing significant reduction in scoring, to try and set the courses they used up so that the winner would struggle to score below par for the four rounds. The idea was to use the toughness of the setup to identify a true champion. Prior to 1960, champions were routinely several strokes over par for four rounds, with a couple notable exceptions turned in by Ben Hogan at Riviera in '48 and Oakmont in '53.

Now, back in those days, they didn't have the monetary resources they do now, so lengthening the courses was generally not an option. So the USGA would set the courses up to have narrow fairways with very tall rough (putting a premium on accurate driving), and greens that were relatively hard and fast (putting a premium on hitting really good approach shots and then putting well. Both of these have at times bitten the USGA on the butt. Sometimes, the rough gets too long, and it becomes almost impossible to hit out of it; on occasion the USGA has had to cut the rough lower during practice rounds when it has become apparent that it is too penal. Sometimes the greens get so hard that they simply won't let an approach shot stop on them, and/or so fast that a ball won't stay on them if they have any appreciable slope to them. This can especially happen when a wind comes up during dry weather, causing the greens to dry out and get quite slick. 1972 at Pebble Beach comes to mind.

Sometimes, of course, it's the weather alone that manages the trick; at Pebble in 1992, the wind came up on the last day during the round, and the last several groups on the course found playing the course much more difficult than it had been earlier in the week. I watched the last seven groups play the 7th hole, which was playing about 130 yards long (downhill); the green is famously on a little peninsula of land with the 8th tee right next to it. It's usually a wedge off the tee. That day, the pros were hitting 4 and 5 irons to the green, and no one was actually hitting the green; most were hoping to finish in the rough by the 8th tee box. The usual score was 4 or 5; a couple 6s were recorded out of those 14 golfers.

Tom Kite, famously, chipped in from well off the green, scoring a birdie and opening a lead of a couple strokes. He went on to win.
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Old 06-18-2018, 12:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
I believe there are other groundskeeping tricks that can affect how the course plays, like applying less water on the greens in the days leading up to the tournament. If the greens are firmer and dryer, the ball will tend to roll farther, and there's less margin for error. I think the U.S. Open, which is not played at the same course every year, is set up to be particularly difficult.
Exactly this. As has been noted, the USGA (which runs the U.S. Open) has traditionally sought to have the Open winner have a score which isn't much below par.

The prep that they conduct on a course in the weeks before the Open can make it a very different (and more difficult) course to play. As has been noted, this includes:
- Placing the hole / pin in particularly difficult locations on the green
- A dry green (which tends to be hard and fast, and can sometimes lead to a putt rolling off the green entirely)
- Cutting the grass on the fairways in such a way as to make them narrower
- Letting the rough grow even taller than usual, making it even more difficult to recover from)
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Old 06-18-2018, 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by DSYoungEsq View Post
Sometimes the greens get so hard that they simply won't let an approach shot stop on them, and/or so fast that a ball won't stay on them if they have any appreciable slope to them. This can especially happen when a wind comes up during dry weather, causing the greens to dry out and get quite slick. 1972 at Pebble Beach comes to mind.
Which reminds me of the end of the movie Tin Cup. Roy (a perpetually underachieving golf pro, played by Kevin Costner) is in contention to win the Open. He hits a risky shot over water to the green on the final hole. Even though he uses a 3 wood (a club that would hit a long, low shot, rather than a high, arching one) the ball lands on the green and rolls back the way it came and into the water.

I've always considered that a goof in the movie. I suppose it's not physically impossible, but if that ball rolled back into the water, everything would have rolled back into the water.
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Old 06-18-2018, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
...

The prep that they conduct on a course in the weeks before the Open can make it a very different (and more difficult) course to play. As has been noted, this includes:
...
Good list. I don't think anyone has yet mentioned adjusting the tees (where the players drive from.) Many holes offer multiple teeing options, which allow vastly different angles and lengths. Increasingly common recently is setting up holes as "driveable" par 4s for at least one round, then stretching them out for other rounds.

Tho this discussion pretty much answers the OP's questions, the set-up for a major is far more involved than discussed. I remember playing Olympia Fields shortly before they hosted the US Open. The USGA wanted major changes for things as prosaic as parking cars, setting up grandstands, and affecting how the course appeared on TV. They switched the 9s around from the way the course usually played, and removed a huge number of mature hardwood trees. They dug the bunkers to be WAY deeper - I recall those being the deepest bunkers I've ever encountered (and it seemed I was in ALL of them! ). One thing that was weird was they made the fairways narrower in places where the pros would hit. 300+ yards off the tee. I may remember incorrectly, but I thought it involved transplanting/switching sod from the fairways and rough, rather than simply cutting at different heights. The result was, the fairways were nice and wide back around 200-250 yds where I would drive, and I never played from the pros' landing areas 300+ off the tees.
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Old 06-18-2018, 07:54 AM
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I actually watched the last hour, and the commentators analyzed that question in depth.

1) A number of pros criticized the course as being "unfair' because conditions were much more favorable for golfers teeing off early than for golfers teeing off late because the greens dried out and were treacherously fast. They feel that they should have been dampened enough to keep the conditions consistent. Koepka, the eventual winner, said he attacked the front nine and got 5 birdies in his first 7 holes because he understood the dynamic and was able to compensate for it.

2) There was criticism about unfair pin placement, and the criticism was warranted at two holes on the final day. Other than that, the pin placement was deemed in line with U.S. Open standards.

The U.S. Open traditionally is extremely trying. Winners are normally in the -2 to -4 range. In this event, the winner was +1, so criticism that the course was unusually vicious was accurate. Nevertheless, it was vicious for everyone, and the winner turned out to be the guy who handled it best. Isn't that the way it always is?
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Old 06-18-2018, 09:32 AM
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They were probably distracted by the hoard of absolute douchenozzles who insist on yelling "Get in the hole!" and other equally hilarious quips after Every. Fucking. Shot.

The FIL was in town, and he and the wife are big golfers so they love to watch. But jeez, this was even more unwatchable than normal. If it were my tournament, every one of those fratboy fucknugget assholes woulda been kicked to the curb post haste.
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Old 06-18-2018, 09:44 AM
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I remember a story about a pro golfer who was particularly upset at how tricked out one golf course was in one of the major events and complained to an official "are you deliberately trying to embarrass the best golfers in the world?". And the official calmly replied "No sir. We are trying to identify them."
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:50 AM
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Well, I resurrect this thread simply to point out that the USGA didn't try anything to "tame" Pebble Beach this week, and we got about what we'd expect. The winner was -13, which translates to 271. That's one shot better than Tiger Woods' famous 2000 win. But Tiger won by 15 strokes, whereas Gary Woodland won by three strokes, and several other players were under par for the week.

In the past at Pebble for the Open, Jack Nicklaus won in 1972 at 290 (+2), Tom Watson in 1982 at 282 (-6), Tom Kite in 1992 at 285 (-3), Tiger at 272 (-12*), and Graeme McDowell in 2010 at 284 (even par*). Add in the 1977 PGA Championship (played during a drought, when the course had essentially no rough), won by Lanny Wadkins at 282 (-6). What made Tiger's win in 2000 so famous was the fact that no one had EVER managed anything like that score in past majors at Pebble (caveat: two golfers had gotten to -10 or better during the course of a major tournament at Pebble - Gene "the Machine" Littler was -12 in 1977 before collapsing and going +6 in five holes and ending up in a tie with Lanny Wadkins, and Dr. Gil Morgan, who was -10 in 1992 during the third round before completely falling apart).

The greens were noticeably easy to putt in this Open. There were very few three-putts that I saw. Pebble always has fewer of those because the greens are so small, but in the Open, you usually get quite a few anyway. And while the rough was certainly doing a good job of penalizing players, the fairways were quite generously wide by Open standards. I know, because I've personally seen what their width gets cut down to for an Open ('82, '92). The course reminded me a lot of how it is set up for the AT&T Pro-Am, except, of course, for the use of the longer tees on holes like 12 and 17. Not shockingly, the scores reflected that.

Now, some people will complain that this cheapens the Open. In the last three years, we've had winners at -13 and -16, sandwiching a winner at +1. But while I think that today's pros tend to whine a bit muchly over super-tough set-ups, there is a point to be made that, if the only way you can keep the score around even par is to make the greens so severe that putted balls will roll off of them (see Mickelson last year), then perhaps you should just give up and accept that modern golfers, with the modern equipment and modern balls are going to be scoring much better than they used to. I mean, in 1982 I watched a practice round where Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf were paired. On 18, they hit driver - 1-iron (Nicklaus) and driver - 3-wood (Weiskopf) to the green, and only Nicklaus actually reached it (barely). On Sunday, Brooks Koepka hit 3-wood - 3-iron and was long. On 9, the pros were hitting driver - 8-iron to a green that is 520 yards away from the tee (admittedly downhill). That used to be driver - 4-iron from a tee that was at least 40 yards closer. So unless the USGA is going to give up and schedule the Open at new courses that are substantially longer (8000 yards, anyone?), the winning score at the Open probably should be lower than it used to be.

And here's the thing: was this Open any less exciting than 2010's? I don't think so.
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