Golf’s governing body has come under fire for the glacial pace of U.S. Open contestants in wake of the USGA’s "While We’re Young" campaign launched earlier this week. On Sunday, following the airing of a video promoting the cause during the early stages of the championship’s finale, association president Glen Nager took to the airwaves to defend the nearly three hours it took Saturday’s last group to finish its first nine holes.
"It’s not where we want it to be," Nager said on NBC. "But this championship has a purpose, which is to identify the best player in the game playing under the most difficult circumstances."
Reinforcing the clear differences between the professional game and what most folks do at local courses, Nager cautioned those watching at home to do as Tiger Woods (one of the stars of a series of pace-of-play PSAs) says, not as he does.
"The professional game and what we’re trying to do here this week is not the standard for the recreational game," Nager said.
With that caveat, Nager listed a number of lessons golf course managers could learn from the punishing conditions at Merion Golf Club -- from the tight fairways and skating-rink-like greens, to the thick and juicy rough.
"Lower the rough height so it’s easier to find the ball, lower the green speed so there’s not as many three putts and four putts, make the hole location more accessible, tee it up forward rather than lengthen [the course] out," he said.
For now, settle in for Phil Mickelson's six-hour round on Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Open.