The players on the PGA Tour don’t particularly care for the United States Golf Association or the way it chooses to set up its U.S. Open venues, this is clear.
Indeed, Golf Digest’s Undercover Tour Pro laid out the pros basic orientation toward the USGA earlier this year when discussing proposed rules changes.
“Among us, there exists a strong bias against the USGA. When Far Hills made the announcement, the vibe on the range was a caustic, “What the heck do those guys know about golf?” It’s unfair, but that’s the perception pros have. We interact with the USGA once a year at the U.S. Open, which from our view is usually a debacle. Five or six things that feel ridiculously unfair are guaranteed to happen to you that week, like losing a ball in the rough one yard off the fairway, or seeing your stopped ball suddenly roll 30 feet off a green. Unless you’re the guy holding the trophy at the end, you leave bitter.”
On the heels of the Chambers Bay grumbling of 2015, and the Dustin Johnson fiasco of 2016, pros are wondering what’s in store for them at Erin Hills in two weeks. The first pro to sound off: Adam Scott. Not often outspoken, the Australian had some strong words for the USGA.
Scott doesn’t want to see three-foot rough or baked-out putting surfaces:
“Let’s just have something that’s a challenge and interesting, not just playing brutal,” he told reporters at The Memorial.
Of course, the USGA’s obsession with protecting par and producing a tournament winner at or around even par is partially to blame. Pros are playing courses that, with a traditional PGA Tour setup, they’d shoot 10 or 15-under par for the week. Instead, the USGA maxes everything out so the winner shoots -1, +2 or similar. Scott has had about enough of that:
“Maybe it’s time to do away with the even-par target. The ball is in their court. Hopefully they get it right this time, just from a playability standpoint.”
Scott expressed his desire for a less overly penal setup going forward, he made it clear how he feels about how the USGA has been doing lately: “They’ve really dropped the ball with where the game is at over the last 20 years.”
While it’s unclear exactly what he means specifically, it’s not a good look for the USGA when a respected veteran makes high-profile statements trying to reign the organization in ahead of the championship. There’s a massive chasm between the PGA Tour’s players and the USGA. Should we see a fiasco at Erin Hills, it’s likely the pros will come unglued.