Tim Rosaforte's online column looks at Oakmont and the potential conditions for this year's Open.
"I was just there Sunday-Monday, and it's more lush than I think we'd kind of hoped," said Mike Davis, the course set-up man for the USGA. Davis sent correspondence to Zimmers, telling him to send out the mowers once it stops raining. Last year at Winged Foot, the first step in the graduated rough was 3 ½ to 4 inches. He asked Zimmers to trim that first cut to 2 ¾ inches. The goal is to make it short enough so the players can show their skills. The week of the tournament, "It could be higher, it could be lower," said Davis.Yes, that 6 inches right off the fairway is such a good test especially when...
This doesn't sit too well at Oakmont, a club that prides itself on sending its guests home feeling the privilege of being penalized by its brutality. "I've never seen an Open here at Oakmont where it wasn't six-inch rough right off the fairway," said the host pro, Bob Ford. "So if it's playable just off the fairway, I think it will have a great effect on the score. Again, it's all about wet and dry: If it's wet it's going to be one score, if it's dry, it's going to be another score. That's true on all golf courses, but particularly here."
Some of the club's members--guys who play in the Swat competitions--are predicting that if the course plays hard and fast, double digits will win The Open. The reason being, Oakmont's fairways were running about 11 on the Stimp after Zimmers put the rollers on them. The average fairway width at Oakmont will be 28 yards, but as one of the club's scratch players pointed out on Thursday, some of the tighter driving holes are only 22 yards wide in spots. But those 22 yards really play 10 yards wide because most of the landing areas tilt and pitch toward the deep stuff.
"Some of the fairway are really tight, and to be honest, one of my concerns is that they get too fast," Davis said. "They've got so much roll, that if they get too fast it's not going to be a good Open. We don't want it turning into '87 at [The] Olympic [Club]. We're going to ask John to hand water the drive zones to keep good drives from rolling into the intermediate rough."
On top of this, the participants will be putting on greens that Zimmers gets rolling at 15 for the year-end Swat Party.
That tells you who the best player is!