Once again, a randomly chosen amateur golfer has failed to break 100 on a US Open setup, seemingly proving Tiger Woods’ statement that no ten handicapper could break 100 on a US Open Course.
This is the third year that Golf Digest has sponsored a contest to let a low handicapper play the US Open course set up as it would be for the tournament. None has succeeded in breaking 100, but in my mind, none of these experiments have proven a thing. These events are a media circus, with the poor contest winner being paired with a couple of celebrity golfers and followed by television camera for a tv program to be shown later. It’s not the golfer’s ability to play on a US Open Course that’s being tested—it’s his ability to concentrate in the middle of chaos.
The first year’s victim was 39 year old John Atkinson, an eight handicapper. He shot a 114 with three celebrities filling in the rest of his foursome: Tony Romo, Matt Lauer and Justin Timberlake. To make matter worse, Atkinson had just the previous year been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Not exactly a fair test.
The second year, it was Phoenix police officer Larry Geibelhausen, who spent six hours on the course with Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Jordan and Justin Timberlake. Fred Couples, Rocco Mediate and Anthony Kim also were there, serving as caddies. Geibelhausen, a 3.8 handicapper shot a 101. Admirable.
This year, the contestant was Peggy Ference, a 4.6 handicapper who finished with a 48-over 119. In this instance, less than nothing was proven. If she played from the US Open tees, she was doomed before she started. If she played from the ladies tees, then she didn’t play a US Open setup.
Note that none of these was the hypothetical ten handicapper Tiger spoke of.
Golf Digest should do a real experiment: Find a legitimate ten handicapper, and let him play two rounds with an experienced caddy, and without the cameras, and celebrities. Even better: let the golfer pick his foursome—even if it’s the blokes from back home. Then count the better of the two scores.