PGA – FINAL WORD ON THE US OPEN 2015 AT CHAMBERS BAY

On Friday, I published an article outlining my gut feeling that the USGA’s decision to hold this year’s US Open at Chambers Bay would backfire.

Unfortunately, there was much evidence to support that premonition over the weekend.

First, the course continued to look worse for tv viewers as the fescue dried out and browned even more.  Friends and others I spoke to said it was “painful” to watch due to the lack of difference between the fairway and greens, especially.

Second, many players harshly criticized the bumpy, inconsistent greens as virtually “unplayable”, “disgraceful”, and “really terrible”.

Billy Horschel said the “bouncing was the worst I ever saw” and he, “lost respect for the USGA”.

Chris Kirk said, “The US Open is a great tournament with incredible history.  The USGA should be ashamed of what they did to it this week.”

Former player and ambassador of the sport, Gary Player had the most raucous criticism of all, saying Chambers Bay was “the worst course I might’ve ever seen”.  He also said the place was too long, too hard, and a terrible example to set for amateurs who might be “chased away” from playing golf because of it. He said it was a “tragedy” and “devastating” for golf.

Player also quipped that Chambers Bay is “not indigenous to US Golf, [it’s] indigenous to the British Open”.

Third, many spectators who attended the event reportedly had trouble seeing anything due to the long waits for the grandstands and areas roped off due to the breakneck elevations that could literally, well, break your neck if you weren’t careful where you walked.  One fan called the US Open at Chambers Bay: “the worst fan experience” and “an embarrassment”.

Fourth, there has been much displeasure spoken of FOX television’s broadcasting of the tournament.  Some of the negative feedback includes camera people losing the ball too many times, shots too long on players who weren’t ready to hit, the on-screen scoreboard broke on Thursday, unprepared & inexperienced broadcasters, and the delayed censoring caused by having the players mic’d.  (Obviously, many of them had unhappy comments about the greens as they played.)

So, with all that said, I ask myself once again: did the USGA fail in bringing the US Open to this place?

It was close, but Sunday’s late afternoon thrilling play saved the tournament from disaster for me.

I might even admit that it was one of the most exciting fourth rounds at a major I can remember and one I’ll never forget.

What made it so special is that those terrible greens and all the trouble the players had with that course terrain actually added to the drama of it all.

Jordan Spieth, Brendan Grace, Dustin Johnson, and Louis Oosthuizen all fought valiantly to play on Chambers Bay’s greens and make any putt go in.

And, we were right there with them, even more than usual, because we worried how the dreaded greens would affect each one of them and our favorite player.

We wondered where the balls would land off the tees.

Would they stick, roll away to never-never land, end up in a bunker, stay up on a ridge, or roll down a ridge?

Which club would the players use to get them out of bad areas?

What would they would do on bumpy hills or ridges?

Would the loud freight trains going by affect their play?

What would happen inside a 20’ putt?

What would happen inside a 3’ foot putt?

In the end, the players were tested physically and emotionally, and we were on the edge of our seats.

That was what Mike Davis and the USGA wanted, ultimately.

Yes, all the controversy of Chambers Bay did leave a black eye on the event.

The USGA is also probably embarrassed by all the harsh criticism.

But, Chambers Bay, which almost sunk the 115th US Open, ironically also saved it.

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