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19th Hole

Jack Nicklaus has an interesting idea about how to change Shinnecock for future U.S. Opens



In his most recent 19th Hole podcast, Michael Williams asked Jack Nicklaus for his thoughts on U.S. Open setups in general and what transpired at Shinnecock in particular.

His response is noteworthy because, well, he’s Jack Nicklaus, and because his take is a fresh one in a discussion that has grown predictable and largely played out.

Nicklaus said, “I grew up playing USGA golf courses. I loved the way the USGA sets up golf courses. When you’re a junior, they set it up at the junior level…amateur set up on the amateur level, ladies set up on the ladies level and then the Open gets set up on the most difficult. That’s how I learned to play golf. That’s why majors were so important to me. And to take the U.S. Open and not make it…the toughest and the most difficult, to me, you’re making it too much like another tournament. And that’s not what I really wanted to see.”

“Now, did they set up Shinnecock poorly? No. I don’t think they set it up poorly at all. I think Mike Davis did a pretty darn good job of it. I just think that because course conditioning has changed so much, and they have courses just on the edge…the setup lends itself–you saw scores on Saturday and Sunday in the mid 60s in the morning and the mid 70s in the afternoon…I don’t think they really wanted that.”

“I think if you back to Shinnecock again, I think the wise thing would be to redo the greens…not change them…but there’s nothing under those greens other than what nature had there….but with the way they do things today, that lends itself to not being able to be controlled. And they could redo those greens exactly as they are now and control the moisture level on those greens, then the setup that they had would work fine, and work fine in the morning and the afternoon.”

The four-time U.S. Open winner added that he didn’t expect the membership at Shinnecock to approve anything so rash, and that he was merely making a suggestion should the tournament return to the Southampton course that reworking the greens could make the course “fair in the morning and fair in the afternoon.”

As for exactly what method of green rebuilding Nicklaus is proposing (presumably some reworking of soil and drainage), we’re not sure. However, his suggestion remains an interesting one.

He also added

“The greens were great in the morning, they just got away in the afternoon. When you’ve got starting times from…7:30 to 3:30…a lot of things are going to happen.”

Nicklaus added that the USGA should strive to offer players the same course in the morning and the afternoon to give everyone a “fair chance to compete.”

The Golden Bear also touched quickly on Phil Mickelson’s rules violation.

“Phil came back…and said, ‘I just lost it,’ which is probably what he should have said to begin with.”

However, Nicklaus suggested Mickelson has earned the right to be cut some slack and said all golfers can relate to his frustration.

Nicklaus also discussed his charity work on the pod, and Michael Williams has another great guest in the episode: golf fitness and flexibility expert, Roger Fredericks, who’s well worth listening to.

Check it out below, and let us know what you think about the 18-time major champion’s remarks.

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  1. ogo

    Jul 8, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    Jack: “Bulldoze the greens and flatten all of them!”

  2. ogo

    Jul 8, 2018 at 12:04 am

    I love watching multimillionaire golfers suffering on the putting greens in the afternoon and dragging them down to the rest of the field. Btw… that “socialism” too … 😀

    • bebop a lula

      Jul 8, 2018 at 5:51 am

      No it would be republicanism 101 where you benefit from the luck of the draw rather than having to earn it!

  3. Richard Douglas

    Jul 7, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Make the golf course tough. Fine. But the course must meet two criteria to be fair:

    First, it cannot be random. Good shots should get good results, and bad shots should be punished. They only got this half-right. Bad shots were punished, and so were a lot of good shots. You didn’t know what would happen even if you put the ball right where you intended.

    Second, it must be proportional. A little mistake should result in a little trouble and a big mistake should result in a big penalty. Unfortunately, even small mistakes created big trouble, so what was the point? If everything but perfection creates horrible results, why bother?

    The USGA should contract out the Open. They’re a bunch of amateurs running the most important tournament in golf. It’s not a good look.

  4. Robert

    Jul 6, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    So if it rains in the morning but the sky is sunny in the afternoon, the guys in the morning are SOL – unless of course the USGA can make it rain in the afternoon to even things out.

    Or, they can delay the afternoon round until the next time it rains.

  5. 2putttom

    Jul 6, 2018 at 10:22 am

    “The greens were great in the morning, they just got away in the afternoon. When you’ve got starting times from…7:30 to 3:30…a lot of things are going to happen.” …. BRILLIANT !

  6. Prime21

    Jul 5, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Although I hate to admit it, The Golden Bear is right. The only way to be in complete control of a golf course any longer is to have total control of the turf. Nobody cares if the fairways burn out, but if the greens do, the consequence is note worthy. In this day and age, with sub air units that offer complete control of the agronomy above, it is essential to have inorder to truly host a Major Championship. You don’t think Augusta has had it for decades now? Whoever whines at Augusta? Winged Foot put them in over the last four years and Augusta is about the only place with green complexes that have more undulation. The time has come for technology to catch up with nostalgia and for any true US Open venue to come to term with the times! Now, whether or not the USGA should be allowed to oversee the US Open, that’s a whole nother discussion!

  7. Commoner

    Jul 5, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Why do these retired old _____’s think they have so much earth shaking, civilization changing wisdom the rest of us lowly mortals are just falling over each other to hear? There are several heroes of yesteryear that simply need to learn the meanings of modesty, moderation, and temperance. There is no need to opine on everything in the hope of setting the world right before you leave it.

  8. Jamie

    Jul 5, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    St. Andrews called. The phone was silent.

  9. truth

    Jul 5, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Who cares??

  10. Bob

    Jul 5, 2018 at 4:32 pm


  11. kevin

    Jul 5, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    is the only response to setup now for usga major courses to spend millions upon millions of dollars installing sub air systems, new drainage, and basically a computer system to be able to control a course. weird coming from a guy who wants to dial back the ball because its getting too costly moving tees back.

    why not simply dial back the mowing a hair and let these greens stimp at 11 instead of 14 and let the scores, tournament, and eventual winner take care of itself.

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19th Hole

68 at the British Open in the morning, golf with hickories at St Andrews in the afternoon



Yes, golf fans, just another day in the charmed life (or week, at least) of one Brandon Stone.

Stoney (as I assume his friends call him), came to Carnoustie on the heels of a final-round 60 to win the Scottish Open. All he did in his opening round was fire a 3-under 68. Not bad!

But his Thursday to remember was only getting started as Stone made the 25-mile trip south to the Old Course to peg it…with a set of hickory clubs! Well played, sir, well played.

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19th Hole

Jean van de Velde’s 1999 British Open collapse is still tough to watch in LEGO form



Gather ‘round, golf fans, for the saddest British Open story ever told–in LEGOs.

Maestro of the plastic medium, Jared Jacobs, worked his singular magic on Jean van de Velde’s notorious final-hole collapse at Carnoustie in 1999.

The interlocking plastic brick cinema begins after van de Velde’s approach shot has caromed off a grandstand railing to land on the opposite side of the Barry Burn.


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19th Hole

Sung Kang finally responds to cheating allegations



Sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled British Open programming, but Sung Kang stated today he still doesn’t think he didn’t anything wrong. “I followed the rules by the rules official…I think I did the right thing,” he said after his opening round at The Open.

Joel Dahmen, if you recall, accused the 31-year-old pro of taking a bad drop at the 10th hole during the final round of the Quicken Loans National.

The comments were Kang’s first public remarks since a statement co-released with the PGA Tour which said, “He is standing by the ruling that was made by PGA Tour Rules officials on Sunday and will have no further comment.”

While he stopped short of giving his side of the story, Kang did indeed make “further comment.”

Here’s some of what he said.

“I did not want to say anything bad about Joel. Because there can be difference of opinions. But the way he just said it on Twitter was not right. There can be different opinions. And also, it was made a decision by the rules official. So nothing was wrong.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened, but no comment because I’m not going to say anything. I think I made the right decision. … Even when I say something, a few people still kind of think i still did something wrong. And if someone believes in me, they aren’t going to trust what Joel said.”

“No matter what I say, some people are going to trust it, some people are not going to trust it. And then I’m going to be thinking about it more and more. So I’m just focusing on my golf game.”

The British press asked Kang if he wishes he had done anything differently.

“No. Why? I did the right thing,” Kang replied.

Now, I’m not here to argue one way or the other, but the rules official wasn’t in position to do anything other than leave things at the player’s discretion, which he did. So, it’s misleading–if not downright deceptive–for Kang to suggest otherwise.

The official didn’t see the shot. There was no video of it. The only thing he had to rely on was the accounts of those who did see it. In a situation where accounts vary, and with the Rules of Golf relying on player integrity as they do, all he could do was leave the ball in Kang’s court. Thus, the decision as to where to drop was wholly Sung Kang’s.

Again, this isn’t to say the drop was necessarily bad, bad to play the “decision by the rules official” card is, well, a bad drop.


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19th Hole