(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Greens on the Blue Course

The U.S. Open inevitably brings a unique curiosity about the speeds of the greens. This week at Congressional Country Club‘s Blue Course is no different.

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Since turf conditions vary for each course, Stimpmeter ratings will fluctuate. In 2007, Oakmont Country Club‘s greens rolled 14 ½ to 15 feet; in 2010 at Pebble Beach Golf Links‘ greens rolled 11 or 11 ½ feet. This year? The goal is to reach 14 to 14 1/2 on the Stimpmeter, which means the greens will be firm and fast.

And if greens begin to look brownish on television, that is not necessarily a sign of burning out.

“Even though some of them look a little thin and you can see some brownness to them, the root structure is very, very good,” said new USGA executive director Mike Davis, who is also responsible for course setup. “Every day that we’ve been meeting we talk about the health of the greens.”

A Chance for Redemption

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In the final round of the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, a number of the greens severely dried out to the point that officials were forced to water the greens repeatedly throughout play.

The events of that day gave the USGA a temporary black eye and left a lasting negative legacy on that Open. Just nine years earlier at Shinnecock, Corey Pavin provided one of the championship’s more memorable highlights, hitting a 4-wood approach shot on the 72nd hole that helped him edge Greg Norman.

On Wednesday, USGA president Jim Hyler announced that the U.S. Open will return to Shinnecock, one of the association’s five founding clubs, in 2018. Hyler said the USGA learned its lesson.

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“Shinnecock is a challenging course to set up, and we certainly experienced that in 2004 when we let the course get away from us the last round,” he said. “This has been well‑chronicled and discussed over the years. I will tell you that we have used this as a wholesome learning experience, and this experience led us to the development of our current setup philosophy that we use today.”

A Kindred Spirit


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Rory McIlroy and LeBron James may not be best friends forever, but McIlroy admits the two trade text messages.

During the NBA Finals, McIlroy was a frequent tweeter in support of the Miami Heat, which lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. McIlroy says he was a Heat fan before James and Chris Bosh decided to take their talents to South Beach.

“I’ve been to about seven or eight Miami Heat games over the last couple of years,” said McIlroy, who endorses the Audemars Piguet watch company along with James.

In the wake of the Heat’s loss, McIlroy believes James has been unfairly criticized for his role in the defeat.

“Everyone is going to have bad days, if it’s on a golf course or on a basketball court,” said McIlroy, 22, who owned a four-shot 54-hole lead at the Masters Tournament before shooting a final-round 80. “And with sports these days everything is overanalyzed, stats here, stats there, how has your team combined for points in the last quarter of the Finals or whatever. It’s just one of those things.”

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Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.