The U.S. Open has visited some new places in recent years — see Chambers Bay, 2015, and Erin Hills, 2017 — but for many golf purists, Shinnecock Hills seems like home.
Two of them, Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo, said on Friday that they would be all for seeing Eastern Long Island remain in regular rotation for the event.
Actually, Chamblee went further than that.
“I know it would never happen,” he said from a trailer inside the broadcast compound, “but if I got a vote and some CEO was like, ‘Hey, listen, we want to find one golf course to play the U.S. Open on, which would it be?’ I’d vote for this one.
“It was one of the first [American] courses ever built, arguably the first course ever built . . . I think the players love playing it and we all love watching the U.S. Open here. To me it sort of encapsulates what a U.S. Open used to be. This is our father’s U.S. Open. It’s mean, it’s hard, it’s tough. It’s fabulous.”
Chamblee said he at least would like to see a rotation featuring Shinnecock, Pebble Beach, Oakmont and perhaps a limited number of other courses, similar to the relatively narrow rotation used by the British Open.
Nobilo agreed, saying that while he had nothing against Erin Hills, “What most people want is the U.S. Open to be a particular type of major championship, as the [British] Open Championship is, as the Masters is.
“There shouldn’t be confusion, and I think that’s what’s happened. You need consistency for big events, you really do.”
The Open returned to Shinnecock after a 90-year absence in 1986, then was back in 1995 and ’04, and will return again in 2026. So apparently the USGA is on board.
After two days, Shinnecock has shown many facets, and different levels of difficulty, from extreme on Thursday to relatively benign by early Friday evening.
Chamblee, Nobilo and their prime-time studio host, Rich Lerner, all said that they enjoyed Thursday’s windblown carnage not because they like seeing the world’s best players tortured, but rather because it was a fair test.
“The U.S. Open, in all its gory glory, is back,” Lerner said. “There are enough weeks of low scores with low stress. That’s pretty much every week on tour. This is not one of those weeks, nor should it be.”
Said Chamblee, “It’s not so much that I like to see the players struggle. I like to see great golf under these severe conditions, so now we can truly appreciate how good [Dustin Johnson’s] 4-under is.”