USGA should ditch 10th-tee starts at Open
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – I detest the 10th-tee start that was implemented by the USGA at the 2002 U.S. Open and is used every year in the national championship.
A tournament this big and this important should afford a first-tee start for every player in the field. Starting players on Nos. 1 and 10 is disruptive and unfair. It shouldn’t be this way for the premier golf tournament in the United States.
Golf courses have a carefully planned progression of holes. At Pebble Beach, the par-4 first hole is short (380 yards) and not particularly difficult. Many U.S. Open players use an iron for this tee shot. Meanwhile, the par-4 10th hole is a 495-yard man-eater that runs along the edge of a cliff. It demands length and accuracy.
Nobody in this field wants to start on 10, yet every player will begin play from the 10th tee on Thursday or Friday.
In Thursday’s opening round, the first group off No. 1 got all the way to the ninth green before the final morning group off No. 10 finished hitting.
It could have been much worse: That lead group off the first tee (Deane Pappas, Gary Woodland and Paul Sheehan) was so slow that it was put on the clock on the sixth hole.
Message in a bottle: Dear USGA, please dump the 10th-tee start.