Date: July 30, 2012

Grant Report – How tough is the US Open?

After sharing his view recently on how the US Masters can be improved, Victoria’s Geoff Ogilvy – never one to shy away from lateral thinking – muses about the major he won in 2006, the US Open.

Ogilvy explains his preparation for the tournament and how he knows what to expect, the demands and discipline it takes to even break par in the US national championship.

"It is different from the other majors in that it is one of the few American events where I know going in that the course will be really firm," Ogilvy writes in Golf Digest.

"It takes more time to figure out what I need to be good at if I’m going to have a chance of winning.

"I do know a few things, though. To me, the US Open isn’t quite the complete test of golf that it sometimes claims to be.

"The fairways can be so narrow that even the straightest hitter is going to miss a few from the tee. So at least six times in every round, I’m going to miss a green in regulation. That’s the best I can ever see myself doing.

"That means six times a day I’ve got to figure out how to make par using only one putt. In other words, my ability to get down in less than three shots from inside 80 yards is going to be tested. If I do miss a fairway, that’s often as close as I can get to the green in two shots.

"One thing I see guys doing in the month or so before the US Open is working with a new hybrid club, something like a 7-wood, a club that has at least a chance to advance the ball a decent distance out of long grass.

"I credit Mike Davis of the USGA for that. Since he introduced the concept of "graduated rough" to the championship about five years ago, we haven’t been mindlessly hacking out nearly as often.

"If we’re good enough, he gives us an opportunity to move the ball maybe 180 yards instead of only 50.

"Anyway, that’s how I prepare physically. Preparing mentally is something else.

"The US Open is the ultimate test of patience. I know I’m going to have to prepare myself for the feeling that I am playing badly even when I’m not.

"I have to convince myself that par golf – or even one or two over – is good. It’s just so different from any other week on tour, where grinding for pars means you are really not performing well at all.

The final piece of the US Open puzzle is short putting. One of the less well-known aspects of the event is that, over the course of each day, the greens tend to deteriorate quite sharply.

"That’s not the fault of the venue or the greenkeeping staff. It’s just that the surfaces are so close to the edge that as each round goes on they get steadily worse.

"And by Sunday they are almost brown, just the way the USGA likes them. "Not dead but dying" is definitely their thing.

"The superior putters in the field love that, of course. They can still hole out on greens that are both bumpy and fast. The best putters always identify themselves over the last nine holes of any US Open – more there than at any other major.