With the US Open at Torrey Pines this week, it appears the tournament will end up being a repeat of last year. At Winged Foot, Bryson DeChambeau went for the ‘smash it as far as I can off the tee’ strategy. It turned out to be genius because fairways were tough to come by and if you did miss, the further up the hole the better off you were with a short club in hand. Clearly, Bryson’s short game was on-song as well but the advantage he gained off the tee was there for all to see.
From what I’ve heard of Torrey’s setup, the same strategy will be employed, but by many this time. If I’m a betting man (and I am), the top 10 will be filled with long hitters. Bryson, Brooks, Finau, Rahm, McIlroy, DJ, and so on. For a short to medium length driver of the golf ball, top 10 will feel like a win at weeks end. At 7652 yards, a par 71, add in the rough… strength and length are prerequisites. Strength for muscling the ball out of the thick rough, and length for leaving yourself as little club into greens as possible.
Is it good for golf? That’s debatable and everyone has their opinion. For me, US Opens have always been a different beast. Deep rough is nothing new, but the premium was always on hitting fairways, to then be able to hit and hold greens. I used to love seeing players groan in despair after their ball missed a fairway by a foot. You knew their fate was set – i.e., somehow find a way to make par. It’s not traditional golf, but once a year it’s kind of fun to watch (and play in a sick, twisted way). I found US Opens more a mental test than a physical one. Letting your guard down after a slight misstep was much easier than grinding out a hole. Knowing that half of the field were probably unwilling to do the latter gave me great comfort in this regard, because sometimes bogey was a phenomenal score!
Technology has since paved the way for the power game, and thus a new style of playing US Open courses has emerged. Torrey Pines certainly isn’t the greatest test of golf, but it would have been fun to see them actually ‘shorten’ the course, grow the rough even higher, and put back into play what this historic tournament holds dear. But alas, I’m dreaming. And don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be watching with bated breath, for there are 18 holes in the ground… and someone has to win.