The USGA is an organization that has a hard time getting it right.
Somehow it manages to survive.
The starched collars from Far Hills took endless heat two years ago thanks to the conditions at Chambers Bay.
Last year, Dustin Johnson was kind enough to save them from the ultimate disaster. His unwaivering cool and solid play overcame the stupidity of yet another rules situation and the old “was it or wasn’t it” a penalty scenario.
We are six days away from the first round at Erin Hills, another new course. It is only 11 years old, which makes it an infant in the world of major championships. So was Chambers Bay.
The USGA has had a long-standing mission of bringing value back to par in this oldest of American championships. It has also brought a lot of criticism over the years, if nothing else, for the reason that these world-class professionals hate like hell to get embarrassed.
The USGA has forever stated that this championship is designed to identify the best player. It is billed as a complete and total examination of one’s skill and metal fortitude.
That basically means it is damn hard.
Scott, like many of his fellow pros, believes that the USGA pushes the envelope as it strives to make the winning score at or around even par for 72 holes of play.
“Maybe it’s time to do away with the even-par target, just thinking about the bigger pictures of the game of golf,” Scott said last week at The Memorial tournament.
The good folks at the USGA will tell you that they don’t focus on par being the winning number but the stats over the past 10 years show that the average score of the champion is one-under par.
Exception to that number was 2011 at Congressional where rains softened the course, making it extraordinarily vulnerable to low score and Rory McIlroy went nuts, shooting 16-under par on his way to victory.
Another problem is that the U.S. Open is always the poster-child for slow play, very slow play and that may be the case again at Erin Hills. Although there are only eight trees on the golf course, there is an abundance of very high, basically waist-high fescue grasses that will gobble up off-line shots in a heartbeat. Hopefully they have about a thousand volunteers to look for those stray pellets.
The crowds will be huge. This is a really big-time event, first time ever in the state of Wisconsin, where folks are golf-crazy despite a shorter season.
The tournament got a huge boost when Steve Stricker, the state’s favorite golfing son, won the Memphis Sectional and earned a spot in the field.
Then there’s the television broadcast. Fox Sports hasn’t distinguished itself by any means.
When you compare Fox to NBC and CBS, Fox is a 20-handicapper when it comes to golf broadcasts. But it was the USGA that sold out to the highest bidder, not the best broadcast team.
It will be interesting to see if the USGA pushes the envelope with course conditions.
The weather should cooperate. There’s only a 20 percent chance of any rain the first three rounds and a 40 percent chance of some rain Sunday morning.
The USGA needs for this one to go without any hitches, without any controversy.
Good luck with that.