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Friday, June 15, 2007

Where Should the US Open Be Played in the Future?

There's always controversy surrounding US Open venues. After two rounds, it looks like Oakmont is standing up as a perfect course for the championship. Winged Foot was also lauded for its challenge and setup. However, not all venues are created equal.

Next year, Torrey Pines South will be hosting the Open. I think this is a mistake for several reasons. First, the course is thought to be boring and very straightforward. It lacks character. If it didn't play on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean, the green fee would top out at $79 on the weekend. Secondly, the decision to give it the Open was triggered by the success of the Open at Bethpage back in 2002. The USGA tries its hardest to put forth a non-elitist image, and hosting Opens at public courses (especially munis) is too tempting for them to resist. Third, Torrey Pines is a regular stop on Tour every spring. Why do they need to play there twice in a three month period?

After Torrey Pines, the schedule looks like this:
2009 - Bethpage - This is a good venue, but the Open was played there seven years prior. That's too little time between championships.
2010 - Pebble Beach - It's hard to argue against Pebble. I think they play there every ten years, which is fine. The only negative is that it serves up another highly likely major for Woods.
2011 - Congressional - This is a fine choice. No complaints.
2012 - Olympic - It's another fine venue and always a strong test.
2013 - Merion - It's been a long time since the Open has been to Merion, but it's about time. I'm glad they figured out how to make it work given the tight spaces around the course for fans and media. My only concern is that the club might have made a deal with the devil: supposedly they are going to redo the greens after the 2009 Walker Cup. I've played Merion, and if they screw with the greens, the members are going to regret it. I guess it's another million in Fazio's pocket.

Beyond 2013, no one except the suits at the USGA have any clue where the Opens will be held. Here are my recommendations:

2014 - Pacific Dunes - The pros would love this course, and the weather would be perfect in June.
2015 - Los Angeles Country Club - The membership won't want it, but it would be worth pleading for it.
2016 - Chicago Golf Club - Classic venue with tons of history. It would be cool to see this exclusive course on TV.
2017 - Shadow Creek - Wouldn't it be totally awesome to have the US Open in Vegas?
2018 - Wade Hampton - This course outside of Asheville, NC would be unlike anything ever seen in an Open. A mountain course would be a totally different and fresh test for the best in the world.
2019 - Scioto - This is Jack Nicklaus' boyhood course. He's going to be redoing the greens this year, and 2019 would be the 60th anniversary of his first US Amateur title. Cool, huh?

My guess it that of all of my recommendations, the only two that have a legitimate shot at hosting an Open anytime soon are Pacific Dunes and Chicago Golf. During the 2014-2019 period, several past venues will most certainly be picked. That's a bit unfortunate, because the PGA of America has been trumping the USGA of late in picking new and different courses, such as Whistling Straits. The USGA should never lose sight of its tradition, but they should not be blinded by it.

Any suggestions from the Networked Golfer faithful?


Anonymous Champ said...

J5 - I could be mistaken but it seems to me that the PGA promotes destination courses for its championship while USGA remains true to classic course designs which happen to be predominantly private. With that said, how ironic it is that the USGA holds on to these "traditional" courses while allowing modern golf to progress unchecked.

2:59 PM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

That's a sound theory. The PGA is trying new venues, and it's helping to differentiate it from the other majors. It's always played fourth fiddle, but lately its cachet has increased immensely because of its bold venue choices and tough but scorable course setups.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

From what I have been reading, I think that Chambers Bay in Tacoma, WA would have my nod for a future US Open site. A wide open link-style course with spectacular views. I heard through the grapevine that is was selected for the 2020 open but with it so far out who knows if it a sure thing.

1:29 PM  

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