On The US Senior Open Setup

Here are what I think are some interesting insights into what the USGA thinks about the setup of a championship course. These comments are from USGA Managing Director of Rules and Competition Jeff Hall:

It was quite a challenging week last week here.  Advance week, Mother Nature, much like last year, looked like she wanted to play a little bit more of a lead role in the Senior Open.  Fortunately, I guess she had another appointment this week because she let go on Saturday night, and we’ve got some wonderful weather the last four days.  The golf course has responded beautifully.  We have targeted a green speed of 12 feet, and we are right where we want to be with that.

We’ve had outstanding firming conditions the last four days.  The golf course is coming to us that way.  Again, we really feel like the golf course is where we need it to be.  Mark Jackson and his crew have just been working tirelessly on a daily basis to meet our desires, and we’re very confident the golf course will be presenting to everyone’s satisfaction.

We do want the Senior Open to be very reminiscent of the U.S. Opens of the past these gentlemen have participated in.  That said, it’s not intended to be the U.S. Open.  It can’t be.  It’s a different group of players.  But we do want it to be the toughest test in golf that these players encounter each year.  They can circle it on the calendar and know, okay, I’m coming to Indianwood in 2012.  It’s going to be a little bit different than what they see every week.  I think we are achieving that.

I’ve talked to a few of the players over the last few days, and I think we are achieving our goal.  It’s a little different than what they see every week.  We try to tailor, set up the golf course to not only reflect the toughest test that they encounter all year, but to fit the personality of this particular golf course.

Many have commented when we were here for media day in May, that gee, this isn’t a very long golf course.  No, it’s not.  Don’t let that fool you.  It’s going to be a solid test of golf.  Very small greens.  Fairways are pretty tight.  Indianwood has never been about the overall length of the golf course.  It’s going to be about producing quality golf shots throughout the 72 holes that we’ll play.

We don’t have a target score.  Many ask that.  Again, I bumped into a couple of players who said, well, you must have a number in mind for the winning score.  That’s not how we work.  Now, I don’t think it’s a surprise that we do try to test the players in all facets of their game   physical, mental, emotional   all of those things factor in.  When we have a firm golf course, we’re confident that that gets in the player’s mind when they park their courtesy car because they know they’ve got to play to firm greens from the fairways, and the fairways out here are not particularly generous in some spots.  A little more in others, but I think they’re appropriately generous based on the hole that is being played.

There is some risk/reward, but perhaps not as much as other golf courses, but we don’t want to force that issue either.  The 1st hole, I think, although it is just the 1st hole, does provide some risk/rewards.  It is a very reachable par 5, but it will require two very precise golf shots.  If you miss the fairway, well, you’re going to have to work hard to catch up, and you’ll play a much longer third shot if you don’t drive it in the fairway, and we’ll see that throughout.

It’s not our intent to have the rough be a pitch out rough, but it’s healthy.  There’s no mistaking that.  It’s very healthy out there right now.  We have included our graduated rough concept that we have initiated about six years ago, and primarily we see that on Holes 12, 16, and 18.  Three very solid challenging holes.  12th hole being a 490 yard par 4.  16 at 450 and 18 in the 460 range.  So that graduated rough, we have a three inch rough that’s approximately eight feet wide.  And then outside of that, we have the primary rough at four inches.

In speaking with Mark Jackson, Kevin Aldridge, our grounds crew, we’ve asked that all of the rough grass inside the ropes, excluding the fescue, obviously, be all four inch rough inside the ropes, be mowed by the end of the day today.  So they start that process yesterday and will finish by the end of the day.  We’ll keep a very close eye on that the balance of the week.  We’ll start dialling down the water, that rough will start to dry out, it will continue to grow.  We’ll keep a close eye on it throughout the week, just as we do all facets of the setup, be it green speeds, firmness, et cetera.

We’re very, very pleased with where we are and really think the golf course will provide a very solid test of golf, and nobody will pretend their way to the championship on Sunday night.

We have endeavored to provide a very consistent golf course, beginning with practice rounds Monday to what they see Thursday.  We’re not trying to surprise anybody.  We want those practice rounds to be very meaningful, and we believe we’ve accomplished that.  Very solid finish here at Indianwood.  We’ve got a chance to make one on 15, par 5, that if we get the prevailing wind, which I haven’t seen yet, but they tell me it will come from the south/southwest, but we haven’t seen it yet.  It will be a healthy wind.  We could see some players get up on the green or potentially knock it on the green up there.

But 16, 17, 18, I think 3 pars with a one shot lead, you’ve got to like your chances at grasping that trophy on the 18th green.  Very, very good finishing holes, and we’re sure that they will be a very solid test as we come down to the end and the players are playing for that national championship.

We certainly believe the prize at the end does add its own element of pressure to the test of golf that will be before them.  We will, not surprisingly, use 16, 17, 18 as our three hole playoff if we have a tie at the end of the 72 holes.  If we still have a tie, we play the 18th hole until we determine the champion.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Original Golf Blogger on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: