The field for the 112th US Open can once again expect “golf’s toughest test” in the traditions of the USGA when the championship gets underway over the Lakes Course at Olympic Club tomorrow.
Much has already been made of the first six holes being the toughest in US Open history but there are challenges everywhere and the USGA will set the course up to test every facet of a players game.
“We're absolutely delighted with where we are right now with the conditions,” said Mike Davis, Executive Director of the USGA. “The greens are as good as any greens we have seen at a US Open. They putt beautifully. The fairways are perfect. The rough is aptly named, it's rough. And we're just delighted. “
The rough, always a factor at the US Open, is a mixture of poa annua and ryegrass which will give different lies depending on which patch the ball lands in with the ball tending to sit up more in the patches of poa and settling down in the ryegrass.
“These players know they don't want to be in the rough, but it's a little bit like an Easter egg contest, when you go up there you might find an egg and you might not,” said Davis. “Your egg might be sitting up and it may not. So it's going to be interesting.”
The greens, among the smallest targets in Major Championship golf, are running fast and true with the bent grass surfaces putting perfectly smoothly, the question is how firm are they likely to get as they dry out so water management will be a key factor for the green staff.
And while the Lakes course measures 7170 yards it is not likely to be played to that length this week as all the tees have various options. The length of the 16th is of particular interest with the USGA looking to use the full 670 yards on two days and push the tee up to around the 600 yard mark on the other two days, offering a chance of going for the green in two.
One thing is certain, he Lakes Course will reward shot makers who can shape the ball left and right. With the course set on the side of a hill and fairways often sloping in the opposite direction to the dog legs, the ability to shape the shots to hold the fairway while fighting the hillside and then give the best chance of approach will be key.
“If you can work the ball both ways, left to right and right to left, you get a real advantage,” explained Davis. “And that's something we don't see as much anymore in today's game. It's more about hitting it long and hitting it straight.
“This is really about shot making. And so it will be interesting to see how the players work themselves around the golf course. Some of the holes don't require drivers, but at the same time those same holes, you can hit driver. So they have a choice. And I think any time we give the world's best players a choice in what they want to do or how they want to play the shot, it always makes for a better championship.”