Usually The Forecaddie falls into a state of depression when leaving the beautiful world of Pebble Beach and its magnificent golf setting.
But memories of a return for next June’s U.S. Open quickly changed the mood. The intrigue levels will be high given this year’s setup issues and with and major changes in how players attack a course on display in last week’s U.S. Amateur.
Granted, the event was played with the resort fairway widths and a little more rough, but officials revealed a largely identical game plan for the 2019 U.S. Open in terms of logistics and fairway widths.
The U.S. Golf Association’s Mike Davis and Jeff Hall expect to fine tune a few landing areas after consulting their GPS-shot lines and notes from previous U.S. Opens.
Contestants will be greeted next year by a new 525-yard tee at the par-4 ninth hole, panned by Jack Nicklaus and several players as absurdly long. Yet there were several youngsters in U.S. Amateur match play laying back off the tee with driving irons to avoid a hanging lie, leaving a mid-iron approach.
That scenario caused one referee to bend The Man Out Front’s ear about prodigious distances without Pebble Beach even playing nearly as fast and firm as it will next June. More interesting will be what the USGA does at the par-5 sixth, where some players intentionally played to a dry hillside left of the fairway to take Carmel Bay out of play. A similar tactic was used in 2010 but even more players figure to try unless native grasses sprout by next June.
TMOF was most surprised by what a pushover the par-5 18th has become, with the loss of several trees to disease since 2010 making the lay-up shot pedestrian.
Couple that with players able to get near the green in two shots, even with wind in their face, and it’s a less intimidating finish. Look for the fairway to be reduced in width significantly after next February’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Finally, there is the all-important logo for the 2019 U.S. Open, developed and largely sold by the Pebble Beach Company merchandisers as part of their unique hosting arrangement. The Forecaddie couldn’t help but think New England Patriots die-hards will love the red stripes and similar color scheme. TMOF? Not a fan.