USGA is cutting down select native roughs at Erin Hills – and Rory McIlroy is not happy

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USGA is cutting down select native roughs at Erin Hills – and Rory McIlroy is not happy

PGA Tour

USGA is cutting down select native roughs at Erin Hills – and Rory McIlroy is not happy

ERIN, Wis. – Kevin Na fumed, Lee Westwood mocked and in an 11th-hour U.S. Open course setup decision, the U.S. Golf Association ordered a weedwacking of some of Erin Hills’ densest native roughs.

According to USGA officials, the fourth, 12th, 14th and 18th holes received a trimming in anticipation of forecasted storms that are expected to make certain strains of the native grasses lay down. The unplayability of those lies prompted the decision to send an army of maintenance staffers out for the emergency trimming, not early week player and media criticism.

The USGA later released a statement: “Going into this week we knew that mowing certain parts of the fescue rough might be required should we have the combination of high winds and heavy rain. After 1.5 inches of rain fell overnight, we followed through with our plan to mow limited areas of fescue on holes 4, 12, 14 and 18.”

When told of the fescue haircut taking place, an annoyed Rory McIlroy said the move was unnecessary.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line. You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here, if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home,” he said during a Tuesday news conference.

“I get that it’s thick and whatever, but it’s a hazard. If you put red lines just right along that people wouldn’t complain, it’s a hazard, and you’d go … It’s a U.S. Open, it’s supposed to be a tough test. And if guys can’t put it into play within a 50-yard zone I don’t think they’ve got much to complain about.”

Why the roughs immediately outside of the traditional 3.5-inch rough cut are so dense is up for dispute. Some believe the areas are fescue turf areas that were once more tightly mown and allowed to grow taller, while others say the density suggests the effects of overspray from irrigating fairways.

Either way, the USGA has called an audible and attacked the most problematic areas.

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