US Open week: What does Merion have in store for us?

USOpen MerionThe US Open is my favorite golf tournament run by anyone other than the folks down in Georgia.  Everyone loves the Masters, but the US Open is our nations test of the world’s top golfers to crown a victor who has proven himself above all others.  The US Open is not a golf tournament but a gladiators test of golf.  Only the strong will survive, and the reigning US Open champion is a man who has conquered the best players in the world during the toughest conditions.

The Masters is golf’s finest moment, the Open Championship is golfs oldest tournament, the PGA Championship rounds out the Majors every year, but we all know it is a lonely fourth (sorry PGA but we all know its true), but the US Open is the tournament that really decides who the best player in the world is at that particular moment in time.  I am not saying that the world rankings should be changed to reflect the current US Open champion, but we all know how difficult the US Open is.

So why do I love the US Open?

The pros have to play well, struggle on every hole, hit shots they are not comfortable with, and most importantly the regular guys of golf can feel a little bit better about themselves when the best players in the world have trouble getting their ball out of the rough.  The US Open is not only our national championship, but it is a reminder that golf is hard, and those guys on TV make it look to0 easy.

I am one of the lucky golfers who is a single digit handicap, and close to a scratch golfer.  I can go out and put together a few good holes and really wow the crowd (the crowd is the few guys I get paired with or my own golfing buddies), but put me on a US Open golf course and we have another story.  I can manage pretty well when I play a par 72 6400 yard golf course with little to no rough and relatively soft greens.  Put me or any low handicapper on a US Open course, and not even in US Open conditions, and you will have a new found respect for the game of golf and the men who play it for a living.

Golf is tough, there is no if’s and’s or but’s about it.  However, this is what makes golf my favorite sport.  It is a beloved game because it is so hard.  The professionals we watch week in and week out who shoot four rounds in the 60’s and only manage a top ten, make the game seem easy.  They hit 330+ yard drives, they hit a short iron to a few feet and knock in the putt.  The US Open is the week in golf when the pros have to put themselves in the average joes shoes.  The guys who hit driver 5 iron into a par four, have to struggle out of the rough, and hone their skills from a few fairways over just to make a par on the ninth hole so they can break 40.

I love the US Open because I know at one point during the week some one will ask “what did you get on that hole?” and someone will turn around and look longingly up the fairway and respond with: “one off the tee, two out of the trees, three in the shit, drop four, five on the front edge with three putts makes eight”.

God Bless the USGA for making the pros life a living nightmare for just one week out of the year.  As for the rest of us, we play a game that is harder than most every day of the year, and its nice to see some of those guys struggle.

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