Scottie Scheffler turns US Open tour guide at The Country Club
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Scottie Scheffler turns US Open tour guide at The Country Club

BROOKLINE, Mass. – Ordinarily, softball questions lobbed at pro athletes are like hanging curves, but once in a while those off-brand inquiries lead somewhere interesting. And on Wednesday at the US Open, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler was prompted into giving everyone news they could use.

The question posed to Scheffler was a bit dork-a-tronic: “Obviously, it's a little bit you're hoping to play all four days here, but if you were a fan and you were coming here and having a beer with your buddies, just you knowing the course, where would you like to watch it?"

(Obviously the intent was to get beer in there. We are in Boston, after all. Hooray for beer!)

Scottie gave a thoughtful, observant answer -- one that should allow fans to see wild swings on the scoreboard without getting exhausted moving around all day. Maximum drama with minimal energy expenditure: it’s a classic ratio of production value.

First, Scheffler opened with the best strategic advice a golfer could get.

“I would probably get here early and walk it,” he noted eagerly. “If I hadn't been here before, I would probably walk the course and maybe watch one of the early groups where there's not too many people and try to get to see everything.”

Excellent analysis -- you get to see the entire course, soup to nuts. Bonus points if you walk it backwards, to really get a feel for not only where, but why the defenses are arrayed as they are. All the great Golden Age architects employed this theory, especially Mackenzie, who fought in the Boer War. Competitive golfers at every level have adopted this theory in practice as well.

Better still, Scheffler then delved into specifics.

“There are so many good holes out here,” he observed with the look of a starving man perusing a menu. “I could post up on 8. I could post up on 10 and 11 kind of out there by the green and watch shots going into 11, watch shots coming into 10 and see some carnage on No. 10 and then maybe a few lower scores on No. 11.”

Nos. 8 through 11, that stretch is indeed a chakra of the golf course. The short, reachable par-5 eighth is followed by the quirky and short part-4 ninth.

Now “quirky” can mean a lot of things, from “quirky interesting” to “quirky weird.” In the case of The Country Club’s ninth, I’m afraid it’s both. To avoid a mound mid-fairway that caroms balls toward one of the only water hazards on the golf course, players are teeing off with a 5-iron. Perhaps the USGA might consider moving the tee markers back and forth on this hole to try to tempt the golfers into an unwise shot.

The 10th is downright iconic – the Himalayas, traversing a whopping 498 yards uphill and curving like a scimitar. “See some carnage” indeed! Hopefully to be offset at the tiny par-3 11th, in play for the first time at a US Open since Francis Ouimet’s fabled victory in 1913.

As a bonus, the mighty 641-yard, par-5 14th could be a nightmare. While the rough on the entire course is among the most ferocious in recent Open memory, the rough at the closing five holes needs clearing with a machete. Are we in Boston or Dublin?

“It's really good. I think it's a nice stretch,” observed Scheffler. “14 is now a par 5, which you can get at, but it's a pretty hard par-5. You play 15, which is a really difficult hole. Then 16 is a really good par 3. 17 being a short hole where it's a kind of a birdie-bogey. Then 18 if you get it in play or in the fairway off the tee, it's a good birdie opportunity.”

The reigning Masters champion and likely Player of the Year candidate opens the tournament tomorrow on the 10th hole at 1:25 p.m. with back-to-back US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Players champion Cameron Smith.

About the author

Jay Flemma

Jay Flemma

Starting with a blog and a dream, Jay Flemma launched his first sports-writing website in 2004. Some 13 years and 25 major golf championships later, Jay has won multiple national sports writing awards. Besides GNN, his work has appeared in numerous books as well as on-line at Cybergolf,, GolfObserver, and many other sites and print magazines. When not trying to find a lost golf ball, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet, sports and trademark lawyer in Manhattan. His clients have been nominated for Grammy and Emmy awards, won a Sundance Film Festival Best Director award, performed on stage and screen, and designed pop art for museums and collectors. Jay lives in Forest Hills, N.Y., and is fiercely loyal to his alma maters, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Trinity College in Connecticut.