Dear “Gravity” Golfers,
The U.S. Open rarely disappoints when it comes to drama. It just goes to show you that if the fairways are narrow enough and the greens have enough slope and speed, even a golf course that’s over a hundred years old can still provide a daunting challenge for the world’s best players. Many years ago I had the opportunity and pleasure to play Oakmont. Even though it wasn’t in the U.S. Open, the course still played almost the same as it does in the tournament. The members like the greens running super fast and they keep the fairways narrow and the rough up pretty high all the time – it must be some kind of masochistic pride or something. Even without water hazards the course is still brutal!
What a bizarre ending there was to this tournament! Dustin Johnson showed great control to stay in the moment and not get rattled with the threat of a penalty hanging over him for the last six holes. Had he been tied by Shane Lowry at the end, only to lose by a penalty stroke that was questionable at best, it would have been “over the top” considering what he’s already endured in several major championships. When he called the official and said the ball moved but he didn’t cause it, and the official said no penalty – that should have been the end of the discussion! What happened to golf being a gentleman’s game? Golf shouldn’t need a replay camera to verify a player’s word. The replay was, in my opinion, inconclusive at best. Mr. Johnson certainly earned significant kudos for staying calm, holding his temper, and getting the job done. Congratulations Dustin!
There’s been a lot of dialogue from the golf analysts about Dustin’s swing and the position of his hands at the top of the swing. Most people playing from that hand position would hook the ball off the planet, but his great leg work and turn through the shot keeps the ball from going left on most occasions, and the trap in the blade keeps it from going to the right. In my opinion, his body height contributes to his ability to play from such a laid-off hand position and be on perfect plane at impact. It is certainly not a fundamental that any good teacher of the game would recommend to any of his/her students, but he has any necessary compensation mastered and it’s worked beautifully for him in the last few years.
It’s easy to see that playing a tournament like the U.S. Open requires great patience and great control over your swing and golf ball. Controlling the swing is all about maintaining proper sequencing when the tension level rises in your body so that you can keep yourself in the fairway. Just a couple of tiny mistakes like we saw with Shane Lowry and the trophy sadly slips away. He played great this week and appeared to really be in the driver’s seat until the last few holes. There are lots of valuable lessons to be learned from watching the major tournaments and seeing how the mind can play havoc with the body’s ability to function.
Have a great golf season and when you’re standing over that scary tee shot or a spooky side-hill four-footer with everything on the line, remember it’s only a game – and a fun one at that!
My best – David Lee