USGA finally get it right: Players applaud Pebble Beach set-up on first look as Spieth calls it 'immaculate' and Koepka declares the greens the best poa annua he's ever seen
The U.S. Open is well reknowned for being the toughest test in golf, but the USGA have born the brunt of angry complainants for their handling of course set ups over the past few years.
Whether it was the 'broccoli' greens of Chambers Bay, the 'too wide' fairways at Erin Hills or the baked out greens at Shinnecock that led major champion Zach Johnson to proclaim they had 'lost the golf course', the organisation has come under a lot of fire.
It led to discussions with players including Rory McIlroy, and it seems the USGA have listened.
“Well, we’re golfers too. We listen, we read. I think it’s important for us to listen to those voices, ” Bodenhamer told GOLF.com. “Rory [McIlroy]’s a past champion. There’ve been other past champions that have commented. I think we are listening and we are talking to a lot of our past champions. There’s a lot of players, not just past champions, who care deeply about the USGA and the U.S. Open.
“They’re rooting for a great U.S. Open, which we’re going to have this year. Sure, there’s some things people have said that have been critical, and we’re taking it all into account. We feel good about where we are and looking forward to a great U.S. Open.
“This year we’ve been informed by other voices that frankly, in the past, we haven’t been. I felt it’s important and I think it’s helped us.”
So how have the players reacted to the set-up of Pebble Beach so far this week? With overwhelming positivity.
"The setup is really good," said the defending champion.
"The rough is definitely going to be a factor this week, we all know that. It's very, very thick. Very juicy. You've got to put the ball in the fairways. Not many drivers here. I don't need driver that much, maybe four times this week. But you need to put the ball in the fairway. These greens are so small, you can almost put it in the center of every green and have 20 feet, no matter where the flag stick is.
"It really comes down to who's going to make putts. These are some of the best poa greens that I've seen."
"It's in immaculate shape," said Spieth, who won at Chambers Bay in 2015 when the course was criticised for greens that were like 'putting on broccoli'.
"With the weather we have, the USGA should be able to control the golf course the way they want to. And again, you know, February sometimes it's good to hit it in the rough. You don't spin it as much into the greens, I don't think that's the case this time of year."
"From what I've heard from everybody, the course is absolutely perfect. There's not a blade of grass out of place. Jordan said it's the best poa annua greens he's ever seen in his life. And he said that, so that's saying something."
"With the course conditions right now, it's not playing too long, but you have to be in the fairway."
"This week I don't think they could do anything better. The golf course is fantastic. I think we're going to have a great week. I don't know what else to say. They're a great organization. They're one of the pioneers in our field. I've got no hard feelings towards them."
"I think they've done a great job with the width of the fairways on some of the holes. They tightened 8 up, they tightened 11 up, and I think 16 as well -- sorry, 15. So there is -- I think they've done a phenomenal job there. The course conditions itself is very healthy. The rough is healthy."
"It's obviously in really good shape right now. I feel like the golf course is going to be -- the USGA is going to be able to do whatever they want with it. It's soft right now. Saturday it got to where it was good, fast, firm. And then put water on it Saturday to kind of hold it and, like I said, it's in a position where with the weather where it's at right now, I think it can go wherever they want it to.
"So I'm looking forward to it. I think it's got a good variety. Obviously it's a great driving golf course. I think they've done a good job with fairway width on shorter holes, some of the longer ones, they're towards the generous side. But, again, with the small greens here, being the U.S. Open, once the course starts to firm up, you need to be playing from the fairway. And the rough is fairly playable. I think you're going to see guys get some decent lies out there and be able to get some at least mid-irons on the ball."