So, let’s talk about the U.S. Open.
It is being held this week on the West Course at famed Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. The course was designed by A.W. Tillinghast in 1923, and renovated by Gil Hanse in 2017. It is the sixth time the championship is being held at Winged Foot.
The West Course will be set up as a par 70, with a Course Rating of 76.9 and a Slope Rating of 146. In other words – crazy difficult.
Our calendar this year, though, has been off, and it’s making our heads spin. The year is usually timed and coordinated with set-in-stone regularity by the sports seasons. It is how we know whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall.
But now, most times we don’t know what day it is, let alone what month. It’s September and the NBA is still being played? And Major League Baseball started when? And what happened to Spring Training? And how many games are going to be played? And March Madness was canceled? And NFL preseason games weren’t played? And the British Open didn’t happen…..at all?
And, due to the “virus that shall not be named,” this year’s U.S. Open is being held in mid-September, rather than its customary June time frame, and it will be held without any spectators.
But, at least it is being played. The only years the U.S. Open was not held was 1917 and 1918, during World War I (also known as the Great War, or once optimistically called the “War to end all wars”); and also the four years from 1942-45, during World War II.
The championship has been held in September or October seven times, but the last time was in 1913, when amateur Francis Ouimet defeated Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in an 18-hole playoff at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Although the first U.S. Open was held in 1895, qualifying to get into the field was not held until 1924. And this year, 2020, because of the aforementioned “virus that shall not be named,” will be the first time since ’24 that qualifying wasn’t held to fill the field with 144 players. Instead, the field has been filled using an exemption process of 28 categories as set forth by the United States Golf Association.
The “no qualifying” directive for this year is something of a tragedy, as it is the one aspect that makes the U.S. Open the U.S. Open – it is open, available to anyone, professional or amateur, with a low enough handicap and the nerves to tee it up.
Two players from Washington have made it into this year’s field through the exemption process – Joel Dahmen of Clarkston, Wash. and Andrew Putnam of University Place, Wash. Dahmen, who won the 2007 Washington Men’s Amateur, and Putnam made it into this year’s Open via their status within the top 70 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
So, enjoy the crisp air of September, the beginning of the turning of the leaves, and the U.S. Open.
Complete information about this year’s championship, including TV schedule and live scoring, can be found at USOpen.com.
Tom Cade is the editor of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, which is published by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA). He is also the senior director of communications for the PNGA and Washington Golf. From 2010-2015 he served as president of the Northwest Golf Media Association, and in 2016 received the NWGMA Distinguished Service Award. He is a regular member of the Golf Writers Association of America.