First impressions of Pebble Beach setup for U.S. Open: Lush

pebble beach Geoff Shackelford/Golfweek

First impressions of Pebble Beach setup for U.S. Open: Lush

USGA

First impressions of Pebble Beach setup for U.S. Open: Lush

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The players missing old-style U.S. Opens should get their wish.

To some extent.

Fueled by late winter rains and light play in recent weeks, Pebble Beach is sporting an uber-dense mix of rye and poa annua rough. The look is spectacular, the playability terrifying.

The mowing height appears to have topped off the tall stuff Sunday morning around 4 inches, with the USGA reserving the right to keep it trimmed as they see fit, with another topping off likely Wednesday evening based on past protocols. Gone is the secondary cut through the course, though some areas where balls might roll off a fast fairway, such as the right of the second fairway, appear to have an expanded “intermediate” cut.

Pebble Beach looks spectacular but players have every right to be worried. (Geoff Shackelford, Golfweek)

The rough is clearly much higher in out-of-play areas like the one Patrick Cantlay showcased in a rare social media post hearkening to Kevin Na’s infamous Erin Hills post (which led to a last minute trimming in 2017).

The fairways also have a carpet like density which, while cutting down on the potential for fast running-landing areas, will make Pebble Beach play a bit longer than previous U.S. Opens.

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And the greens? They are borderline “lush” with incredibly consistent and healthy poa annua turf. The USGA has applied a wetting agent after much study and hopes to reduce the amount of inconsistent drying out as the U.S. Open’s long days proceed.

Old-school U.S. Open fans should be happy with the poa and rye fortified by winter rains. (Geoff Shackelford, Golfweek)

While the wind can and will likely blow as the fog lifts or fronts pass, expect to hear players rave about the ability to control their iron shots off of the incredible fairways and to the more receptive surfaces. Translation: more birdies than we might be used to seeing at a Pebble Beach U.S. Open.

As for fairway widths, the eighth and 18th present the most striking changes in what the USGA says is about a 30 percent overall reduction. The 18th’s cypress tree still has fairways on all sides, but effectively takes a 32-yard wide area and cuts it down to 26 yards. Then take another three or so yards on the left where a player may risk standing in the “penalty” area and it will take a bold line to get him in two.

View this post on Instagram

Pebble beach going to show its teeth next week💨

A post shared by Patrick Cantlay (@patrickcantlay) on

What does it all mean?

Expect to see plenty of old-style hack out shots, and some new-style scoring at a Pebble Beach U.S. Open.

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