Five Takeaways From U.S. Open Media Day - MASSGOLF

Find Out More About The Preparations Being Made for the US Open AT The Country Club

BROOKLINE, Massachusetts – Six weeks from now, the 122nd U.S. Open will be underway at one of the cathedrals of the game — The Country Club in Brookline. This year’s championship, scheduled for June 13-19, will be the 4th U.S. Open and 17th national championship held at TCC. Curtis Strange won the U.S. Open in 1988 when it was last played in Brookline. 

Earlier this week, the United States Golf Association® hosted U.S. Open media day at The Country Club, giving members of the press a first look at how the 140-year old club is setting up for the major. Seeing the championship trophy, massive hospitality tents, and an expansive grandstand erected was a teaser of what’s to come in the ensuing weeks. And when championship week arrives, tens of thousands of spectators will occupy the historic club.

A common sentiment throughout the Media Day program was celebrating the openness of the championship and its competitors, and nothing illustrates that better than when Brookline local Francis Ouimet walked from his house across the street and won the U.S. Open in 1913 at The Country Club, defeating two of the best players in the world: Harry Vardon and Ted Ray.

“It was truly was one of the greatest underdog stories in golf and in the sports,” said Stu Francis, president of the USGA. “It fundamentally changed golf in this country. The amount of people who played golf over the next 5 to 10 years after that nearly doubled so it was truly an iconic moment in sports right here at The Country Club.”

To get ready for what’s to come in June, here are some takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Open Media Day. For more local content on the U.S. Open, be sure to visit MassGolf.org.

Stu Francis, president of the USGA, speaks at the podium during U.S. Open Media Day on Monday at The Country Club. (Mass Golf)

1. New Routing For The Course

Let’s get some basics out of the way. Compared to 1988, this year’s U.S. Open course will play 254 yards longer (7,264 yards total) and will be a par-70, compared to a par-71 34 years ago.

On the course, the 4th hole from the main course has taken out of play and will be used for the TV compound. The 131-yard par 3 will slip into the routing as the 11th hole, and according to Jeff Hall, the USGA’s managing director of rules and open championships, it’s one of the most intriguing holes on the course.

“Everybody that plays the game can think about ‘how do I take on a 131-yard hole?'” Hall said. “Everybody that connects with the U.S. Open can connect with that shot.”

Other changes include the 10th hole being shortened from a 515-yard par 5 to a 499-yard par 4. To balance it out, the 14th will now play as a 619-yard par 5. Overall, Hall said it’ll be fascinating to see how the modern-day players, who drive the ball farther than ever before, will attack this classic, old-school course with small greens and tight fairways.

“How will the modern golfer react to some blind tee shots? How is the modern golfer going to adapt, or are they just going to let it rip?” asked Jeff Hall. “I think the golf course will do what U.S. Open golf courses do; it will differentiate those who are playing their best versus everybody else, and we’re very excited to see how that unfolds.”

A view of the grandstand at The Country Club. (Mass Golf)

2. Secondary Market For Tickets

Beth Major, the USGA’s managing director of communications, said on Monday that this year will mark the return of a full-blown U.S. Open and everything the championship signifies. With that, Major said that ticket sales have exceeded expectations, but that may not come as a surprise given the generational opportunity to witness this championship to place in Massachusetts.

The event is officially a sellout, but those who are still seeking reasonably-priced U.S. Open tickets may still be in luck. For the first time, the USGA is opening a secondary market for tickets in an effort to provide a safe place for transactions. The ticket link will be available through usopen.com

“We will launch an official secondary market so that we can be sure fans have a safe place to access tickets if they were not able to do so originally,” Major said. “We can control the ebbs and flow of tickets, and hopefully avoid some price gouging.”

3. A Sustainable U.S. Open

The USGA has devised a plan to host the most sustainable U.S. Open Championship to date. Parts of that plan involves eliminating more than 500,000 single-use plastics and replacing them with more easily recycled aluminum cans or take-home collectible aluminum cups. For example, on Monday boxed water replaced plastic water bottles at the club.

“We’re proud of that and what that will mean for the future,” said John Bodenhamer, the Chief Championships Officer of the USGA.

In addition to all-mobile ticketing to reduce paper waste, the USGA is also purchasing Renewable Energy Credits to reduce the U.S. Open’s carbon footprint.

There will also be an Ecological Enhancement of the neighboring Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course/Brookline Golf Course. Following the U.S. Open, “the town will initiate an ecological restoration project at an unusable area of the golf course. Currently a dumping ground for natural debris from fallen trees and other plant materials, the area will be remediated to directly improve the natural habitat, stormwater retention and water quality. Natural debris will be recycled, creating wood chips and organic material to help restore pathways and other recreational facilities throughout the town.”

4. New Internship Opportunities

The Country Club and the United States Golf Association have selected 25 college and graduate students from 22 universities for the Lee Elder Internship, a dedicated, hands-on career training program that will run throughout the week of the U.S. Open. In addition to interns from the U.S., there will be individuals from Argentina, the Republic of Korea and Nigeria participating.

Lee Elder took tremendous strides in integrating golf. In 1975, he became the first Black man to play in the Masters Tournament and later the first to play on a U.S. Ryder Cup Team (1979). Elder died last November at age 87.

According to the USGA, only a small fraction of the two million golf jobs in the golf industry are held by people from underrepresented communities. Therefore, the goal of this internship is to provide college and graduate students of diverse backgrounds with exposure to golf industry job opportunities and professional development training.

“We are thrilled with the overall interest and the quality of applicants for this first-of-its-kind program,” said Will Fulton, general chair for the 2022 U.S. Open. “This program embodies Lee Elder’s vision and hope for the future of golf and we recognize that diversification is one of the biggest opportunities for the game. Through this program, we hope to connect with those who can help shape the future of golf as potential leaders who may not have been reached without programs like the Lee Elder Internship.”

5. Behind The Scenes Series Returns

For the second straight year, Golf Channel and NBC will produce a series called “From Many, One”, which spotlights the USGA’s efforts in preparing for the U.S. Open. You’ll hear from past champions and other standouts in the game as they prepare to face the world’s best players. The crew was on hand Monday to continue filming.

Check out the first episode from last year’s series: