A few months ago, I discussed the difficulty of the game of golf. It is a game of failure and if you cannot handle failure in competition you may want to consider a different sport.
For those brave souls who love the game just for the great challenge it presents understand the test. In the U.S. Open, the contestants must be from another world to survive playing on a golf course like Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York.
The U.S. national championship obviously prides itself on creating the ultimate challenge. The U.S. Open is known for its knee-high roughs on the course. If a ball is hit off the fairway, a chainsaw might be a better tool of choice instead of a golf club. The Open is usually played on courses with wind blowing off an ocean or prairie, creating unbelievable gusts. Most are also played on courses with more sand traps than might be found on the entire Florida coast.
These are obvious conditions expected every year. This year was particularly tough. The greens on all 18 holes were as hard has a Walmart parking lot. These players are not your normal four-man scramble tournament players. They are the greatest golfers on the face of the earth. When these guys putted on greens as hard as a parking lot, they looked like Ned the third grader.
The wind and sun created such dry greens that it was nearly impossible to keep the ball on the green with approach shots and at times even with short putts. A course should be a tough test but should not be the whole story for the U.S. national title. It should be more about the ability of the golfers, not a battle with an impossible course.
The USGA has turned it into a ridiculous event. Phil Mickelson made a controversial move as he hit a ball while it was still moving – it could have ended up on Times Square. Many golf gurus were appalled by the disrespectful display. Phil’s explanation was that he knew the obvious rule and he would take the two-stroke penalty rather than let the ball roll back to the north 40.
It was his way of making a statement to the USGA that their attempt to create the toughest possible test for talented golfers has gotten out of hand. I may not agree with his actions, but I understand his view. He is a golf icon and senior competitor. He felt compelled to make a statement on behalf of the players.
The USGA may not understand the viewers do not enjoy five straight hours of bogeys. Golf is a tremendous sport when played well. When played poorly it is a five-hour nightmare.
The Open is a four-day event. When played on an impossible USGA course it feels like a lifetime. The faces of the players as they walked off the 18th green told he whole story. They were most likely headed to the clubhouse bar in search of relief from their embarrassment and pain.
I laughed out loud over one of the USGA advertisements played over and over during the tournament. It was an attempt to promote the game of golf and said if you do not have a lot of time, go ahead and play nine holes instead of 18. Most who watched the Open would be more likely to sell their clubs than go through nine holes of the pure pain seen in the golfers in this year’s event.
Golf is great for the mind. It makes you strive to get a little better every game and become a little more mentally tough. It is a given that the winner of the U.S. Open every year is about as mentally tough as a person can be.
It is one thing to be mentally tough, but it is not necessary for the USGA to embarrass these very talented golfers or bore golf fans by making the difficult course the whole story. The U.S. Open has earned its reputation as the hardest golf test in the world. It is not necessary to go over the top.
• The Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association played its annual Kansas vs. Missouri High School All-Star Game and Kansas finally broke the Missouri seven-game winning streak with a 30-0 domination. From what I have heard from local coaches, the Kansas squad was on a mission.
• Kansas City is on a mission to host the 2026 World Cup. It would beyond great for Kansas City. Not only would it put us on the world map, but it would also provide a financial windfall.
• How about two Triple Crown winners in four years with Justify the latest great champion?
• My quote of the week comes from comes from the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus: “The one strongest, most important idea in my game of golf – my cornerstone – is that I want to be the best. I wouldn’t accept anything less than that. My ability to concentrate and work toward the goal has been my greatest asset.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.