Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A fescue kerfuffle

It's U.S. Open time again, and so let us restate its essential truth: The Geneva Convention does not apply.

Which is to say, torture is perfectly legal there, and the USGA, which runs the event, is a willing and (some would say) sadistic participant. Every year it tricks up its Open courses -- a landmine or two here, a few rolls of barbed wire there -- to the point where the best golfers in the world frequently wind up looking like a bunch of weekend hackers, only with better wardrobes.

This is apparently the desired goal, for reasons that elude explanation. The Blob puts it down to the general weirdness of golf in, um, general.

Which brings us to Erin Hills in Wisconsin, where the 2017 U.S. Open tees off tomorrow. Apparently the rough is extremely rough there, and extremely  long, and pretty much all over the golf course. It's also composed of a wispy grass called fescue that tends to lie flat when it gets extremely long, which means if your golf ball sails into it -- and it will, because, again, it's pretty much everywhere -- you'll play hell finding it. As PGA golfer Kevin Na demonstrated earlier this week.

Even by U.S. Open standards (remember: landmines, barbed wire), it's apparently beyond ridiculous. And so the sadists at the USGA actually relented and had it cut down a tad. This apparently worked up a few old-school golfer types, who grumbled that today's golfers are a bunch of crybabies who, if they don't want to deal with the fescue, should just hit the ball straighter.

That's true, of course.

But so is something else.

Does the USGA really think U.S. Open viewers want to watch guys thrashing about in the fescue looking for their balls for four days like Stanley thrashing about in the jungle looking for Livingston?

Maybe there's some universe I'm not aware of, but the USGA is, where the average golf fan would rave about Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson shooting 72-73-72-73. Maybe the USGA thinks we'll all be talking forever about that memorable minus-1 Buddy Bill Logo Cap put up to win the U.S. Open in Twenty Something Something. An outbreak of 65s or 66s? Who wants to see that?

Other than pretty much everybody, that is?

Look. I can't speak for Joe Average Golf Fan. But if I want to watch some guy shoot  74 and lose a pile of golf balls, I'll just go to any local muni track on any random Saturday morning. Sorry if I expect a little more when I tune in one of the four majors.

After all, I can go out in my backyard and weed-whack anytime. I don't need to spend four days watching Charl Schwartzel do it. 

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