The Psychic completed his Saturday morning round in record time and rushed home. He would spend the day glued to the flat screen watching the US Open Championship. The Psychic knew the Championship would survive without Tiger, Rory and Sergio. But he would miss them just the same.
The Psychic had an uneasy feeling the past two days as he watched America’s Golf Championship. The uneasy feeling was nothing he could identify, just an increasingly unsettled feeling. As the wind kicked up and the course dried up, golf balls ricochet off rock-hard turtle-back greens and down the shaved slops. The Psychic thought, “is this really golf?” Could an everyday average golfer play this golf course? How could Joe Hacker get a ball out of the lush knee high fescue? Every golfer dreams of someday playing Augusta National, home of the Masters. But, no golfer in the Psychic’s group would dream of playing Shinnecock Hills if the golf was free.
It happened as the Psychic was unconsciously licking the mayonnaise, last remnants of a BLT, from his finger, his eyes were fixed on, Phil Mickelson. On the 13th hole the gallery favorite and many times runner-up in the US Open, watched his 8 footer slip past the cup and pick up speed. The Psychic flinched as Mickelson raced after his golf ball and, with a hockey stick whack, knocked the still moving ball back past the hole. Phil had waved the white flag and surrendered to Shinnecock Hills.
Still in shock, the Psychic said out loud, “Phil’s moving ball violation will make him more famous than all his US Open runner-up finishes combined.”
As the USGA rules officials attempted to sort-out the rules violations and post a correct score, Phil continued to the 14th tee. The Psychic was amazed that Phil did not withdraw from the event after insulting the Golf Gods with his disrespectful behavior. He was even more surprised that the USGA did not disqualify Phil. Not because they wanted to punish Phil, but because golf is a game of integrity and Phil violated the integrity of the game. A penalty for hitting a ball in motion was meant for an accidental striking of the ball, not a blatant whack done out of frustration.
In the middle of the third round of the US Open Championship, the frustrated Psychic flipped off the flat screen and retreated to his study.
As the Psychic dawned his worn turban, he looked deep within the crystal ball for a vision of US Open Golf Championships of the future. Instead of witnessing a golf tournament, the Psychic sees USGA executives gathered in an expensive suite huddled together over lavish hors d’oeuvres and expensive wine, all paid for by their long term deal with FOX. The heated discussion is focused on how to protect par! “With daily improving equipment, honed athletes and improved teaching techniques we will have a difficult time retaining the chastity of the Championship. We must increase length and make Championship Courses even more difficult.”
“Todays players are so good that they play like robots, we must continue to increase the difficulty of Championship venues to protect blessed par.”
As the USGA executives continue their discussion, the Psychic notices that there is no mention of retaining the relationship with millions of golfers who support the US Open, USGA GHIN handicaps and annual memberships to the US Golf Association. There is not a word of support for golf curse operators who provide the venue where players learn to love the game. Why is there no discussion of sharing the multi-million dollar nest egg with course owners who face increasingly tougher financial conditions as fewer rounds are played. Snail slow play and rough so lush and deep that the gallery is recruited to search for a golf ball are only an after thought. The focus of the discussion is centered on retaining and increasing revenue generated from television and USGA logo merchandise sales.
The scene changes as the Psychic looks deeper into the know-all glowing orb. He is pleased with what he sees. The old guard who has controlled the USGA for years has been replaced with a mixture of people from the golf industry who better understand that all facets of the game must work together and share revenues to keep the game stable with a chance of growing the number of players and rounds.
The new executive committee understands that for the good of the game, integrity must return to the US Open. Integrity in the way rules are interpreted and integrity in the set up of the golf course. Golfers should want to put US Open venues on their bucket list of courses “I want to play before I die”.
“Tough but fair” becomes the new buzz word for the US Open Championships courses in the future.