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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Craw's Corner Bonus Edition/USGA Please

For those of you who read this blog on a daily basis, 99 percent of the time I am going to write about college basketball, but when there is a big sporting event on the horizon, please allow to share some thoughts. College basketball will always be my focal point, rest assured. But.........

Tomorrow starts the great four days of the U.S. Open Golf Championship. It will be played this year at Congressional Country Club, outside of Washington, D.C. It is always a pressured packed tournament, par or just below or above is usually the winning score and it is fun to watch both in person and on TV.

The U.S. Open is put on by the United State Golf Association. When I have covered their events as a member of the media, I have always been impressed. Nice people and well organized. They treat people with class.

But what I don't get about the USGA, is their selection of golf courses to host the U.S. Open. Like lots of things in sports, the West gets cheated when it comes to courses hosting these events. Yes I do know that it has been played at Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines and the Olympic Club in California. One great course, one average course and one above average course, I might even be a little too polite here, but I have friends in California.

In 2015, the U.S. Open will come to the great Northwest, when Chambers Bay, outside of Tacoma, Washington hosts the event. Here is where I get a little steamed. Chambers Bay is about five years old, it did host the U.S Amateur in 2010, but for someone like myself who knows the game, it is an average golf course at best, which just happens to have great views. And get this, it has yet to have a permanent clubhouse, some say the clubhouse it is in the works, others say it will NEVER happen. Actually it will be kind of neat to see Tiger Woods changing his shoes in the parking lot. Better yet, will they even be Nikes at that time? Just kidding Phil.

Even sadder, Chambers Bay is not even in one of the top ten golf courses in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area and maybe more telling if the USGA would have really been thinking about quality golf courses in the Northwest, then why on earth did they bypass Oregon and more specifically Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek), Crosswater and Eugene Country Club. It is not even arguable what these three great golf courses bring to the table, especially Pumpkin Ridge and especially compared to Chambers Bay. Politics within the UGSA shamefully played a big part in this poor decision.

Ok, ok, enough complaining, but fair is fair and some decisions although already made, still deserve to be debated.

Now for the good part, if the USGA really cares about the game and more importantly, the future of a game like golf,  that at present,  needs a big shot in the arm, why not do this.

I think the U.S. Open is scheduled out through 2020 or close to that year. How about as of right NOW make this grand announcement, beginning in 2021, we have decided each of our great 50 states for the next 50 years will get the U.S. Open. I can assure you there is at least one golf course in every state that is worthy of hosting the U.S. Open. Besides it being the right thing to do, can you imagine the excitement it would bring to a state,  with the USGA announcing their selection on national TV five years in advance, or stories people could tell for years about their own state having hosted the U.S. Open.

Besides the talked about practical part, the business side of this is enormous. If it ever happened, I would like to have 1/10 of one percent of that economy. While the USGA is made up of fine and classy people, it has never been known for outside the box thinking, this could change its whole culture. There are probably 35 states out of the 50, which have never hosted a U.S. Open. How about collecting the 50 state U.S. Open coins, or a hat from every course or better yet a ball marker. (I hope that would not ruin my amateur status.)

By the way, marking the calendar right now for 2030 and Johnny Miller saying it is great to be here in Fairbanks, Alaska, where darkness will never interfere with any play-off or even better, today Roger Maltbie took a tour of Mt. Rushmore before play began. Not to worry, these two guys are ageless, so they will still be working for NBC 29 years from now.

Darn it, the alarm clock just woke me up, but sometimes dreams do come true. This one should.

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