BROOKLINE, Mass. — Ordinarily, softball questions asked of professional athletes sound like hanging curves, but every now and then those off-brand questions lead to something interesting. And on Wednesday at the US Open, world number one Scottie Scheffler was prompted to give everyone some helpful news.
The question posed to Scheffler was a little outlandish: “Obviously it’s kind of like you’re hoping to play all four days here, but if you were a fan and you came here and had a beer with your homies, just knowing you course, where would you like to watch it?”
(Obviously, the intention was to bring in beer. We’re in Boston, after all. Hooray for beer!)
Scottie gave a thoughtful and caring response — one that should allow fans to see wild swings on the scoreboard without exhausting themselves moving around all day. Maximum drama with minimum energy expenditure: this is a classic production value ratio.
First, Scheffler started with the best strategy advice a golfer could get.
“I would probably get here early and walk,” he noted eagerly. “If I hadn’t been here before I would probably walk the course and maybe watch one of the early groups where it’s not too crowded and try to see it all.”
Great analysis – you can see the whole course from soup to nuts. Bonus points if you walk back, to really get a sense of not just where, but why the defenses are laid out the way they are. All the great architects of the Golden Age used this theory, especially Mackenzie, who fought in the Boer War. Competitive golfers at all levels have also adopted this theory in practice.
Even better, Scheffler then went deeper into the details.
“There are so many good holes here,” he observed with the gaze of a hungry man browsing a menu. “I could post on 8. I could post on 10 and 11 sort of over there by the green and watch shots go into 11, watch shots go into 10 and see carnage on No. 10 and then maybe- be a few lower scores on #11.
Nos 8 to 11, this stretch is indeed a golf course chakra. The short and accessible par-5 eighth is followed by the quirky and short ninth of part 4.
Now, “quirky” can mean a lot of things, from “quirky interesting” to “quirky quirky”. In the case of the ninth in the Country Club, I’m afraid it’s both. To avoid a mid-course mound that caroms balls toward one of the only water hazards on the golf course, players start with a 5-iron. Perhaps the USGA could consider moving the tee markers back and forth on this hole in an attempt to tempt golfers into a reckless shot.
The 10th is downright iconic – the Himalayas, traversing a massive 498 meter climb and curving like a scimitar. “See carnage” indeed! Let’s hope to be compensated at the tiny par-3 11th, in play for the first time at a US Open since Francis Ouimet’s legendary victory in 1913.
As a bonus, the mighty 641-yard par-5 14th could be a nightmare. While the rough on the entire course is among the fiercest in recent Open memory, the rough on the final five holes needs to be cleared with a machete. Are we in Boston or Dublin?
“It’s really good. I think it’s a good stretch,” Scheffler observed. “14 is now a par-5, which you can get to, but it’s a pretty tough par-5. which is a really tough hole. So 16 is a really good par 3. 17 being a small hole where it’s sort of a birdie-bogey. Then 18 if you get it in play or in the fairway off the tee it’s is a good birdie opportunity.
The defending Masters champion and probable player of the year opens the tournament tomorrow on the 10th hole at 1:25 p.m. with back-to-back US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Players champion Cameron Smith.