The road to the U.S. Open is long and arduous, and those who embark on it are marked by their resilience, one-mindedness, and dedication.
And that’s even before they hit Sunrise Highway.
No wonder then, that the golfers descending on Shinnecock Hills in Southampton are looking to make things just a little bit easier. Whether they’re docked in Montauk, like Tiger Woods and his yacht, Privacy, or in a villa in Sebonack Golf Club — an old haunt for many golfers — most of the men playing this week are looking for some way to beat the traffic that gnarls the East End and makes travel an ordeal into itself. But not everyone has a yacht — Woods’ $20 million, 155-foot boat was hard to miss after it floated into Gurney’s Montauk Yacht Club — and staying at the host hotel hardly guarantees a smooth commute.
Noah Goodwin — the 17-year-old who qualified for the U.S. Open after winning the U.S. Amateur Junior title — said he actually missed his first practice tee time this morning after he mistakenly thought he could make the 16-minute journey from the hotel in less than an hour.
“The drive we had this morning was supposed to take 16 minutes, and it took an hour and 40,” Goodwin said. “I left at 6:15 a.m. this morning.”
Of course, it doesn’t help that the host hotel, the Hyatt Place in Riverhead, is west of the course, where traffic is often the worst.
The golf club is off Sunrise Highway, where traffic volume increases, and those coming from Montauk Highway are in the same boat — one crawling centipede of cars and construction trucks for miles on end. “[We] definitely need to take that into consideration going forward,” Goodwin said.
For others — either in homes, boutique hotels or, uh, boats, out East, the commute likely will be less of a headache, though that, too, doesn’t necessarily come without its risks.
At the British Open last year, Henrik Stenson’s rental home was burglarized while he was shooting a round. With a publicized schedule during majors, there’s always a minute possibility that criminals take advantage, though golfers can be understandably reticent about disclosing where they’re lodging.
“Sooner or later, there’s always a chance it might happen,” Stenson said then, in an interview with Golfweek. “Unfortunately, it did.”