The rumors are true, the USGA has asked for and received the installation of a new greenside bunker on Olympic Club's 17th hole just 56 days before the start of U.S. Open practice rounds on June 11th.
I'll have plenty of details in Golf World Monday and in next week's Golf World, but in a nutshell...
- The bunker will extend the right half green complex bunkering on the par-5 17th to break up a newly widened fairway that extends all the way to the right of the green, where a huge chipping area down the slope figures to add some zesty risk-reward equations to the tournament mix.
- The new bunker leaves about a 40-50 yard recovery shot.
- USGA Executive Director Mike Davis is behind the decision to add the bunker and made the call to install it in February upon club approval. After seeing that the newly widened fairway tied into the green complex short grass was going to reduce or eliminate the temptation to go for the green in two shots, Davis felt a bunker would eliminate decision-making.
- Davis said, "I really think the lay-up would have been so easy and the pitch shot so easy that it would have backfired in what we were trying to do which is to say, hey guys, either go for it, or if you’re going to lay up on this incredibly short par-5, you’ve got to hit a good layup shot."
- The USGA will be paying for the installation and removal of the bunker, should the club decide to take it out after the Open, which Davis believes will be the case because the severity of the new tight grass area would be too much for everyday play.
**Thanks to reader Howard for pointing out Matthew Mollica's photo on Golf Club Atlas showing the location of the bunker, which looks a lot further from the green than I noted above. Looks more like an 80-yard recovery shot.