Thursday, July 9, 2015

Two Thoughts on the 2015 US Open

With my cousin Jodi. I hope she stays with playing golf!
I'm sure her husband agrees!
Now that the sand and gravel has settled and young golfers have coined a new term—to miss a three foot putt is to "Dustin Johnson," I would like to offer two thoughts on the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay. 

I feel very fortunate; I was able to attend the 115th US Open for three straight days with four different family members. The weather was spectacular and the backdrop was stunning. I've heard the complaints by the media and about the media, most notably about Joe Buck and Greg Norman.The non-existent greens made for tough play and so did the links style course. Welcome to the game of golf people. However with this posting, I would like to offer two different takes.

1. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods played in what was his 19th career US Open. Woods did not make the cut as he finished 16 over par through Friday; he shot 10 over the day before. In his press conference he sprinkled some humor on a poor performance by stating "the bright side is, at least I kicked Rickie's butt today."

If you were at the Open for the practice rounds or the first two days of competition, you knew where Woods was at all times. All you had to do was look for the huge crowd that surrounded the golfer on the range and at every single hole he played. Actually, three holes were not accessible to spectators, but I wouldn't be surprised if his fans found a way to get there.

with my Uncle Jay at the Open. He might be a bigger
ND fan than me. No need to referee at the Open!

At one point, I caught a glimpse of him walking, eyes cast toward the ground as he moved to the next hole. The only reason I saw him is because I was trying to walk toward another hole only to be caught in a traffic jam of people on Tiger's tail. 

Frustrated...incredulous...I asked myself "What are people doing? Why are they following a golfer whose game is far from someone worthy of this type of adulation?" My sports fan defense mechanism kicked in "Don't they know there are so many other golfers worth watching?" To his defense Woods reclaimed the top ranking in the world in March 2013; he has not won a major since 2008

Dumbstruck, I turned to my Uncle Jay, a Woods fan and asked him to shed some light upon this strange phenomena.

There is but one tree on the course
He said "Anne, Woods did things in this game that no golfer had ever done before or since. We are all just hoping for one more glimpse of that. Isn't that part of sports? Isn't that why we hope and believe every fall the Irish have a shot at another National Championship? We want to be a witness...again. Right?"

I got it. I get it. And his point couldn't have been more poignant. Woods' world ranking is so high, (right now he is 226 in the world) he didn't qualify for the US Open. However, anyone who wins the Open has an automatic bid for 10 years following their victory. And the last time Woods won the title was in 2008. He did so by nailing a 50 foot putt at Torrey Pines against Rocco Mediate. The two golfers dueled it out for 18 holes on US Open Monday. That 50 foot putt is all the evidence I needed. He did do great things...and everyone wants to know if he will again.

2. House of Hospitality.
My aunt, uncle and cousins live but a mile from Chambers Bay, a public golf course in University Place, WA. They had weekly passes and their home was a revolving door of fans and shuttle service to the tourney. 

Another uncle quipped that "all of a sudden, everyone is a golf fan." He's right. Hosting the US Open changes your entire experience of watching the sport and the event. You can't help but feel a sense of ownership and pride for being featured throughout the country over Father's Day weekend. My club, the Olympic Club in San Francisco hosted the Open for the 5th time in 2012 and I'm still talking about it. 
Look at these two dad who played at Olympic on Father's Day. A great way to celebrate their NBA championship.
The USGA is keenly aware that bringing golf to the people is good for the sport. And this was the first time the Open was played in the Pacific Northwest. Considering that Chambers Bay belongs to King County, that many more people were able to consider themselves to be at the center of the golf world and become fans in the process!

Going to a major or any other golf tournament isn't like attending a football, basketball or baseball game. The stadium is much different. The arena has limited viewing. And the scoreboard is silent. But I love being a part of the energy and excitement that is the US Open. It confirms that one of the secrets in life is who you walk with on the journey. for Beside a fairway is a good place to do that. Thank you to Amy, Jay, Jodi and CW. Until Pebble Beach in 2019!!!

Photo Credits
All good...internal photos!

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