The USGA always makes sure a course is in peak condition — and frequently at its most difficult — for its annual championship. It turned to course architect Mark Mungeam to ready Olympia for the 103rd U.S. Open, where Tiger Woods is defending champ.
AW: Efforts to “Tiger-proof” a golf course frequently equate to lengthening it, but isn’t that a dubious method?
MM: Yes. Added length just plays into Tiger’s hand.
AW: That said, you did lengthen the course, from about 6,900 yards to 7,170.
MM: Yes, but we also strengthened it in terms of the bunkering and rebuilding the greens. There are over 80 bunkers, and most holes have fairway bunkering. And they’re not all out there at 270 yards; they’re more sporadic, in the 240 to 285 range.
AW: That should bring shorter hitters like Nick Price or Loren Roberts back into contention.
MM: Yes, and I like that. The shot-makers should have an opportunity. But the winner may be the player with the most patience.
AW: Why’s that?
MM: The course isn’t that difficult from tee to green. But the greens themselves are subtly difficult, with a lot of slope and movement within them that makes them tough to read. It will take a good putting touch, and a lot of patience.