It’s hard to beat Masters Week for pure golf excitement, but the U.S. Open does. The only way it could get better is if Jim Nantz fell into a tear in the space/time continuum and they used commentators from the BBC, that’s right the British Broadcasting Corporation, to handle the coverage of both the Masters and U.S. Open. The folks at the BBC know two things, golf and when to shut the hell up. Nantz probably knows golf, the other thing, well lets just say he’s never met a silence he didn’t think should be shattered with a grandiose 7 minute monologue about nothing in-particular. He’ll ramble on to the sound of his own voice while golf is going on. Someone needs to tell him we tuned in to see golf not watch/listen to his dopey opening title sequences. Don’t even get me started on the jack-apples at the Golf Channel.
Anyway, our country’s national golf championship is a different excitement as compared to the Masters. The fact that the tournament is played on a different course every year is nice, but it’s the course they pick that makes the difference. The Masters is rich golf history, the U.S. Open is survival of the fittest. This year the Olympic Club in San Francisco gets the nod. Possibly the toughest golf course in the country. I heard several press conferences today and most of the guys said the same thing, only Oakmont in Pennsylvania might be tougher. Technology advances are nullified, knuckle dragging long hitters who can’t chip to save their lives are cast by the way side, and guys who are wild off the tee are in for a long-short tournament. It will be short because they won’t make the cut and be sent home Friday night. But it will be the longest, as in most frustrating, two rounds they’ve ever played. The rough is twice as high, the fairways are half as wide and the greens half as big and twice as fast when compared to what they play on most of the year. You can’t be a hitter and win a U.S. Open, you have to be a golfer.
The other exciting thing about the U.S. Open is it’s an Open. Meaning anyone can play in it if you can qualify. With a registered handicap of 1.4, which means you can shoot par, (72 strokes on most courses), you can play in the sectional and regional qualifiers and if you manage to snag one of the slots you will be playing in the U.S. Open. Think it can’t happen? Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was one bad round away from qualifying last year. Now Andy Zhang, born in China raised in Florida, fell one spot shy of qualifying and became an alternate this year. Paul Casey from England withdrew due to injury and Zhang was notified he was in if he wanted to play. At 14 he is the youngest player ever to qualify. At 14 I was plotting revenge strategies on all those nuns that terrorized me in grade school.
Tough course, impossible odds, a 14 year old, amateurs and club pros playing along side legends like Tiger, Mickelson and Bubba Watson, man it can’t get much better. You know, except for that whole Jim Nantz thing. So in honor of U.S. Open week, I took Frank to an actual golf course to see if his backyard swing, seen here: big hitter, would hold up on the real grass of the greatest game ever invented. Take a look and decide for yourself.
Enjoy U.S. Open Week!