While earning massive amounts of money playing golf, an unwritten rule on the PGA Tour is that players should never-ever publicly complain. Whether you’re a superstar talent like Dustin Johnson or Phil Mickelson, or struggling has-beens like James Driscoll or Brad Adamonis, no matter what bad breaks upend your career, you don’t ever mouth off.
A notable exception to that rule involved the 1999 Ryder Cup team demanding money to play for the USA, because the PGA of America semi-annually pocketed upwards of $20 million. That complaint was resolved by allowing players to donate $200K to their personal charity, instead of receiving a direct-deposit paycheck. The other exception about Tour players not complaining involves a tournament held every June, orchestrated by the USGA, called the US Open. And, according to rumblings on the Internet, particularly Twitter, the negative comments have begun already, concerning expected “unfair” conditions at Chambers Bay, located near Seattle, Washington, site of this year’s contest.
USGA executive director Mike Davis boldly proclaimed a warning in early May to the world’s best players scheduled to compete at Chambers Bay June 18-21, “The idea of coming in and playing two practice rounds and having your caddy just walk it and using your yardage book, that person’s done. He will not win the US Open.” Several players responded to Davis’ antagonistic comment, including Ian Poulter, who said he listened to a few players who made scouting trips and posted, “The reports back are that it’s a complete farce. I guess someone has to win.”
So the same questions about the USGA surface every Father’s Day weekend: Is the US Open the toughest test in golf? Or is the US Open course tricked up, unfair, and ludicrous, with the USGA’s sole intention to humiliate the sports best players? Clearly the USGA adds an “unfair” ingredient to the golf courses not normally seen at weekly Tour stops. And, clearly, the USGA during its 119-year history has created an element of excitement, anticipation and suspense that has become golf’s biggest stage. At the US Open the players are the headliners, but the golf course shares the marquee, and past championships have transformed into some of the most memorable moments in golf history.
Who was America’s first golf hero? Francis Ouimet, of course, because as the ultimate underdog he won the 1913 US Open at The Country Club in an 18-hole playoff against two of the world’s best players at the time. And, who can forget the indelible images of Tiger Woods playing in excruciating pain, wincing on every shot as the championship wore on, at Pebble Beach in 2008, then going on to beat Rocca Mediate in a playoff.
For all the precious memories from the US Open there have been several disasters like the 1974 event at Winged Foot , won by Hale Irwin with a score of 7-over par. The average score after the first day was 77. The tournament is better known as Massacre at Winged Foot because of ankle deep rough, tricked-up greens and pin placements and other assorted goofiness conspired by the weak minds of USGA hierarchy.
Four-time US Open champion Jack Nicklaus is famous for saying how he would listen to players complain about the US Open and figure that was one less guy to beat that week. Australian Geoff Ogilvy, winner in 2006, concurs with Nicklaus that it’s all about attitude saying, “It’s a massive advantage if you get your head in the right place before you go.”
Renowned Spaniard and golf Hall of Famer Seve Ballesteros summed it up nicely, “I’d like to see the fairways more narrow. Then everybody would have to play from the rough, not just me.”
Tom Gorman, will be watching the Golf Channel and FOX during Open week.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?