LAMM AT LARGE: USGA has wrong mindset when setting up US Open course

LAMM AT LARGE: USGA has wrong mindset when setting up US Open course

By: David Lamm

I appreciate the USGA wanting to protect par for the U.S. Open. Making the courses as difficult as possible – pushing the set-up to the edge – is okay with me.

Making the world’s finest golfers think about every shot:
• Driver or long iron?
• Go for the par-5 in 2 or layup?
• Lag or charge putts?
• Take risky chance or settle for smart play?

All of that’s fine with me.

I don’t even mind turning par-72 layouts into par-70s or par-71s. That’s a nonfactor as far I’m concerned. Who cares if 280 is called even par or 8-under?

But trying to embarrass the world’s best is over the top. Running the risk of “losing” the course — particularly the greens — is nothing but ego for USGA officials.

Sure, someone’s going to win. Luck is always a factor in sports. But setting up a course unfairly doesn’t identify the best player.

It also likely discourages potential newcomers from taking up the game. Why would anyone want a hobby to be such agony?
I want to see players rewarded for good shots – whether the wining score is +5 or -15.

This marks the 6th Open at Pebble Beach. The champion and winning scores are Jack Nicklaus 290 (+2) in ’72; Tom Watson 282 (-6) in ’82; Tom Kite 285 (-3) in ’92; Tiger Woods 276 (-12) in ’00; and Graeme McDowell 284 (even) in ’10. Pebble was converted to a par-71 in ’10.

This year’s final score should be determined by the weather, something the USGA can’t control. It can get nasty at Pebble Beach.

Whatever the winning score is, I want the champion to have earned it with good shots.