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Wind dries out Shinnecock again

USGA chief executive officer Mike Davis speaks to

USGA chief executive officer Mike Davis speaks to the press during preview day for the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. on Monday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

After years of promising that what happened to Shinnecock Hills in 2004 would never happen again, it happened again, at least to a certain degree. The U.S. Golf Association admitted that the course had again become too dry and hard to be fair.

“There were some aspects of the setup that went too far,” Mike Davis, the CEO of the USGA said after round three of the U.S. Open. “Well executed shots were not only not rewarded but in some cases were penalized.

“We just missed it with the wind,” Davis said, explaining how the course became so much more difficult from the morning to the afternoon and how it caused players to walk off the course with strong criticisms.

Miscalculation about the wind had caused severe problems for the final round in 2004, ending with the course having become so brown that several greens had to be watered during play. The USGA saw this Open as a Mulligan, or a do-over, after that. Davis, who had been the one on the walkie talkie at the seventh green 14 years ago, and other officials have said repeatedly that advances in technology and agronomy would prevent a recurrence.

“We don’t believe that this is the same exact thing as ’04 where we had to suspend play because it was unplayable,” Davis said at a news conference Saturday night. “We used the data we had. It got windier and dried out more than the superintendent here thought and the agronomist thought and our setup team thought.”

Now, the association is in catch-up mode, trying to find a way to ensure Shinnecock will be fair to golfers who start late as well as early. “The message is loud and clear,” Davis said. “We must slow the course down and we will. That means more water applied. We really do believe we will have a great Father’s Day Sunday final.”

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