The 119th edition of the United States Open also marked the 100th anniversary for the iconic Monterey seaside destination known as Pebble Beach Golf Links. America’s national championship has had the identity as the games’ sternest test, a complete examination of both mind and endurance. But most recently the championship has been mired in controversial rules infractions and course set up debacles. It’s no secret the event desperately needed a competition free of the peripheral clutter.
The love affair the golfing public has with Pebble is only equaled by the Home of Golf at St.Andrews in Scotland, so convincing anyone of the its worthiness was not part of the narrative leading up to the championship. With USGA Executive Director Mike Davis turning over all of his previous course set up responsibilities to John Bodenhamer, this was a chance for a new perspective from all participating and observing parties – players, the USGA, media and the golfing public.
Bob Ford commands the 1st tee at Pebble Beach as the official U.S Open starter
Highly successful in past U.S Open Championships, Pebble Beach has a fifty year lineage of iconic winners: ’72 (Nicklaus), ’82 (Watson), ’92 (Kite), ’00 (Woods winning by 15 shots) and ’10 (McDowell). In fact, recently there was a suggestion that the Stillwater Cove venue should host the championship annually. This sentiment was wishful thinking of course, but just the mere notion shows the stature that Pebble holds in the game.
Bodenhamer took the prudent approach of leaning a bit more on letting mother nature dictate the course conditions and what the end result would be in terms score. Allowing Chris Dalhamer – the Superintendent at Pebble Beach to do what he does best was another key factor in getting the course to play flawlessly in benign conditions, but also being fully prepared for a fair test had the weather taken a turn for the worse. Bringing back the traditional “less greenside options” U.S Open set up with 6 inch ankle deep “chop it out” ryegrass rough wouldn’t be my personal preference, but it is where the Far Hills hierarchy decided to go with the set up. In the end, one could argue that with three of the best players in the world near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday (Rose, McIlroy and Koepka) and one who’s been knocking on the door of major success for awhile (in Gary Woodland) the USGA got it right.
So for all of the knocks the blue coats of Far Hills, N.J have taken in recent years, lets give them an ovation for allowing Pebble Beach to shine at the 2019 United States Open. On to Winged Foot next June . . .
Chris Dalhamer’s Agronomy staff.