June 24, 2012
Golf's double standardWhy is it that players accept the U.S. Open's long and nasty step up, but when it comes to our open, they want it easy?
By IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency
The distance between stern and stupid in golf course set-up is minute, less than the difference between Graeme McDowell missing his birdie putt on 18 a week ago, or sinking it to force a Monday playoff against eventual champion Webb Simpson.
That didn’t happen and Simpson’s win was a definitive conclusion to the U.S. Open. Not as conclusive and more based on opinion than fact is whether San Francisco’s Olympic Club now stands as a beast or beacon for Open venues.
When it comes to toughness, the Open and its caretaker, the United States Golf Association, get carte blanche in course set-up.
Where the rough is thick and the greens are slick is an unofficial mantra that applies exclusively to the U.S. Open over other events.
Last year, for example, the RBC Canadian Open was slammed for the abundance of cabbage at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.
There was some merit to the argument. Many of the players had just participated in the British Open, flown to Vancouver and the last thing they needed was to be hacking out of thick rough for a good part of four days, but heck, ours is a national championship too.
Yes, but it’s not a major and not the U.S. Open was the argument, which seems like a slap in the face to our Open.
Besides, they said, you don’t want players to reconsider coming to Canada because of the rough, which won’t happen this year because the renowned Hamilton Golf and Country Club is an apple in the eyes of many a tour player.
Ten years ago, the PGA Tour had Angus Glen shave down its rough, which took bite out of the Canadian Open that year and led to the host venue being unfairly accused of not being able to stand up to the pros, in direct contrast to the beastly aura that now surrounds the Olympic Club.
Oddly enough, the first six holes at Olympic, for the most part, seemed to avoid any stinging criticism despite that stretch squashing so many major aspirations right out of the gate.
Even the monster 16th, the longest par five in Open history at 670 yards, escaped players’ wrath — at least, until Sunday, when the USGA moved it up to 569 yards, in effect making it a new hole.
“I know the USGA gives us a memo saying that they play from multiple tees, but there’s no way to prepare for 100 yards,” said Jim Furyk, who bogeyed 16 on Sunday after an errant tee shot.
“I thought that they put the tee up like they did, maybe 65 yards up on Friday, but to get to a tee where the tee box is 100 up and the fairway makes a complete L turn, I was unprepared and didn’t know exactly where to hit the ball off the tee,” he added.
Tiger Woods pretty much agreed with Furyk, calling the Sunday 16th “weird,” so it appears that love for Olympic as a U.S. Open venue isn’t absolute, not because of the course, but because of the decision to change 16.
It does seem that Olympic fell into silliness with that move, but the other side of the argument will say players should have been more aware. It’s all academic now and won’t matter much in the future as Olympic goes after its next Open — and it’ll get it.
Nastiness has its rewards.
ACROSS THE POND ...
Our thought for the week is from Albert Einstein, who once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By the way, Tiger Woods is once again favoured to win next month’s British Open ... The Open Championship is another event breaking with tradition and allowing the use of cellphones, which haven’t been allowed since 2006. Smartphone apps are more important than possible breaches of etiquette ... Here’s a break from tradition in player scheduling: Simpson has decided not to play the British Open due to the impending birth of his second child, but he is scheduled to play the RBC Canadian Open the week after along with Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Ernie Els, Fredrik Jacobsen, Retief Goosen, Furyk and defending champ Sean O’Hair. Canadians Mike Weir, Stephen Ames, Graham DeLaet and David Hearn will also be there.
CANUCK IN THE OPEN
Another Canadian who will be in the field at Hamilton Golf and Country Club next month will be Brian McCann of the Academy at BraeBen in Mississauga, who earned his exemption by finishing on top of the PGA of Canada’s national player rankings at the conclusion of the national championship in Calgary on Friday. Quebec’s Eric Laporte actually won the PGA of Canada Championship, but McCann held on to top spot in the rankings ... Joe Ogilvie could miss the rest of the season with a herniated disc in his back ... Dustin Johnson will be in the Toronto area on Monday as part of the Summit Centenary Invitational at the Summit Golf Club north of the city. Joining him will be LPGA Tour player Lorie Kane of Charlottetown, who played the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo. The players will give a demonstration, then play the Stanley Thompson design, which has recently been renovated by Doug Carrick. Others to be in attendance include World Golf Hall of Fame member Marlene Streit, Gary Cowan and Ian Leggatt.