This last weekend Jordan Spieth won the US Open hosted by the US Golf Association (USGA). It is the second major championship of the four majors: the Master’s, the US Open, the Open Championship (sometimes called the British Open), and the PGA Championship, hosted by the Professional Golfers Association. The rules that qualify players for each of the majors are rather complicated, but generally the best professional golfers in the world play all four majors and there are more amateurs in the Open championships, although they rarely make up more than 10% of the field.
This year’s US Open was controversial because it was played on a “new” course called Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington. It is a links style course, similar to those on which the British Open is played, and quite rare in the US. It was built on an old gravel pit, and looked like shit to me. With only one tree on the entire course, and old concrete structures making the landscape look more like Dunkirk, both fairways and greens are made of fescue grass, the terrain is extremely undulating, and the bunkers look more like diagrams of viruses than nice little beans. Apparently golf can be played on any surface since it’s really a competition to find the best player in the event, and so long as everyone has to play the same holes and surfaces, it’s all fair and the best player will emerge.
The 115th playing of the US Open ended up creating a fantastic finish for fans of golf as a competitive sport, so perhaps all the grumbling about the venue was unimportant. As the winner of the Master’s this year, and now holding two of the four cups for a Grand Slam, Jordan Spieth may be the best golfer in the world, even if Rory McIlroy can claim that title officially as the number one ranked player in the world. The US Open highlighted how great McIlroy actually is, as well as Jason Day, Adam Scott, Schwartzel, Snedeker and Oosthuizen for example. It provided more evidence that the glory days of Tiger Woods are well behind him, and Phil Mickelson will remain a crowd favorite even if he won’t win another major ever again. Rickie Fowler, winner of the 2015 Player’s Cup, didn’t much help his cause of proving that he’s a better golfer than his record shows.
Other than the golf course, and the player’s struggles, the biggest problem at the US Open was the FOX television coverage. While The Shark Greg Norman did an OK job, Joe Buck, the network anchor who seems more at home calling MLB or NFL games than golf matches, was a disaster, as was the camerawork (where’s the gdam ball…?) and the editing–moving away from still rolling balls to watch a player chat with his caddy about which way the wind is blowing. Let’s hope NBC Sports and its Golf Channel don’t lose any more important championship coverage deals…