June 16, 2017
PHOTO BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Paul Casey, of England, looks at his ball in the fescue on the 14th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Friday, June 16, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis.
By STEVE KRAUSE
In another two weeks, the US Senior Open will tee off at the Salem Country Club. Let us hope that whatever SCC has to offer in the way of obstacles doesn’t kick up as much of a fuss as the fescue controversy at the US Open.
For those who may have missed it, Kevin Na, who is golfing at in the tournament, which is at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, has a lot of fescue surrounding the fairways.
Fescue, for those who know anything about grass, is thick and if it’s allowed to grow past the average ankle, it looks like those walking through it are plodding through wheat fields.
This did not please Na, and he put out a tweet complaining about the length of the fescue. Rory McIlroy responded by telling Na — and others complaining about it — that the fairways were more than wide enough, and that if a US Open competitor couldn’t hit the fairway, or hit out of the fescue, then perhaps that competitor should pack his bags and go home.
So what happened? McIlroy had the round from h-e-double hockey sticks Thursday, hitting seven of 18 tee shots into that rough, and hacking his way out of it like a rank amateur. He finished at 6-over.
I basically agree with McIlroy. Golf is no different than baseball. If the pitcher is throwing gas approaching 100 mph, there’s no rule that makes him slow it down to at least 90 so that hitters have a fighting chance.
Can you imagine what would happen if we could pick and choose our obstacles in a given sports event?
“Hey, ref, get that Vince Wilfork fella outta my face, huh? The guy weighs 400 pounds and he’s on me before I can even snap the ball.”
Imagine how ridiculous this could get?
“For crying out loud, that Carey Price is stopping everything we can shoot on him. We can’t win with him in net. Get someone else.”
This would obviously be a request particular to the Boston Bruins, who react to Montreal’s Price the way they reacted to Ken Dryden in the good old days — as if they forgot how to play.
Can you imagine LeBron James going to the referee before the NBA finals and saying “hey, it’s either Steph Curry or Kevin Durant. Pick one. Can’t beat both of ‘em.”
Can you imagine Kevin Na having to shoot the ball through a windmill, up a chute, and have it come out of a dolphin’s mouth and go into the hole? Well, people do it in mini-golf every day, Kevin, so buck up.
Of course, there’s a lesson in this for McIlroy too. Golf — as anyone who has ever played it will tell you — is among the most unforgiving games there is. You can tear it up one day and do absolutely horrible the next. Some days, the course plays long and on others it can seem as if every time you hit the ball, it’s soaring past your target and into the water hazard.
The lesson you learn, early on, is not to tempt fate. If your opponent is struggling, accept the largesse and thank the dear lord it’s not you playing as if you’re just taking it up for the first time. Don’t criticize.
Na would have been better off if half the country who went running to Google to look up “fescue” had never been compelled to do it; and McIlroy would have been better off if he’d just shut up and played the game.
As John Lennon once admonished us, “instant karma’s gonna get you.”
I mean, isn’t the whole idea of “the rough” to make it a little difficult for these guys.