Posted by: John K. Abendroth, PGA
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 3:37 PM
Mike Davis is a busy guy as the new Executive Director of the United States Golf Association but on a visit this week to the Olympic Club for the 2012 U.S. Open Davis had his other hat on for his role as the course set-up guru for the USGA.
With this championship by far the largest of the 13 National championships conducted by the USGA it's no worder that Davis has an ultra focus on every little detail for teh U.S. Open course set-up.
Weather will play a huge role in the results this June in San Francisco, but Davis feels the dry mild weather will allow him to control the condition unlike last year at Congressional when constant rain took away that control. A bit of wind, fog and heavy air near the Ocean will help lead to a stern test at The Olympic Club according to Davis, a fact that players from Olympic are well aware of. When asked if there was a target score they like to see, he said there was not, but they did want to make this the most difficult test of the year in their effort to identify the best player.
The yardage at 7154 and par 70 may seem short but Davis agrees with many that the course will play longer because of the proxmity to the Pacific Ocean which includes heavy air and prevailing winds off the ocean. Davis likes the Olympic Club because it requires players to work the ball in both right and left directions event with tee shots. Several holes feature dog-legs where the slope of the fairway is opposite to the dog-leg. The 4th hole dog-legs to the left, but the fairway slopes to the right and number 5 is a dog-leg right and the slope is to the left.
In terms of rough, Davis feels less may be more of a challenge in certain cases. Several greens will have closely mown areas which could see the ball roll away and into trouble. In the case of fairway rough, as holes 2 and 14 will have little rough on the left which would cause a ball to roll into trouble. This being the 5th U.S. Open at Olympic will have a different look that should have more excitement with that new look and set-up.
Davis felt with the new bentgrass greens there will be alot of putts made, but the firmness of the greens and their small size will create a challenge to get the ball close. With many of the greens having chipping areas around the greens, there will be some exciting play around the small greens. The 7th green will be driveable for many as a short par-4, but #16 will play at 670 yards as the longest hole in U.S. Open history, and from that distance it almost assured that no player will reach the green in two shots.
Scoring will be tough on the first 6-holes and then look for scoring to be lower in the middle of the course. Davis has been known to change yardages from what he sees early in teh week, but he would rather see an exciting championship with challenge, good shotmaking and not just a bloodbath as the players finish up on Father's Day.
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