It’s no secret that there’s a growing rift between the players on the PGA Tour and the USGA.
A rough (no pun intended) approximation of the sentiment on Tour toward the game’s governing body is: “They set up their tournament to make us look like idiots every year, and their rules are ridiculous.”
Certainly, the configuration of Chambers Bay two years ago, with its bumpy brown greens, and the Dustin Johnson debacle last year only widened the chasm. One wonders, then, what we’ll see at Erin Hills.
Well, if this video from Kevin Na showing his attempt to locate his ball in Erin Hills fescue and summarily extricate it is any indication, the answer could be “many more unhappy players.”
Now, it’s worth mentioning that Kevin Na isn’t exactly regarded as the embodiment of cool-headed reason on the PGA Tour. But his point remains: the situation players could face just a few yards off the fairway at Erin Hills is both overly penal and could massively slow down play, if his video is an accurate representation.
“Every hole we’ve got this,” Na said of the knee-high grass. “Every hole.” He indicated the long stuff sprouts just a few yards off the fairway.
“Why can’t we have a lot of past U.S. Open champions get together and set up a major?” Na then mused in the video. The comment suggests that there is something in the essence of the test that is the U.S. Open that is lost with two-foot tall rough a few yards off the fairway. It’s easy to make a golf course impossible. It’s considerably more difficult to make it a fair and thorough examination.
It’s also worth noting that the idea of taking iron or 3-wood off the tee won’t really work. Erin Hills is the longest U.S. Open course in history at over 7,700 yards. Players, particularly shorter hitters, have no choice but to hit their drivers full bore.
Surely, we’ll see more videos and opinions filtering in as players prepare for the first round of play, but Kevin Na has gotten things started off right with some world-class grumbling about the gorse.
His sentiments echo Adam Scott’s remarks of a few weeks ago as he pleaded for a fair U.S. Open setup: “Let’s just have something that’s a challenge and interesting, not just playing brutal,” the Australian begged.
Well, from the looks of things, Erin Hills will be playing quite “brutal.” It remains to be seen whether players feel the setup is fair or unfairly vindictive. All part of the fun of U.S. Open week.