1. Selection of Hole LocationsHole locations are selected several months in advance and adjusted as needed during championship week. Many are surprised to learn that the selection of hole locations is not a game-day decision.
A group of USGA and host site staff spend at least two days in March selecting seven hole locations on each green (three practice rounds and four championship rounds). The goal is to have a balance of front/back and left/right locations for each day so that one type of shot is not favored over another. It’s also to highlight the architecture of the golf course. Slight adjustments are made, as needed, each day based on the speed and firmness of the greens and weather conditions.
Should you expect to see the toughest hole locations on Sunday? No, each day of the championship will have some hole placements that are easier, and some that are more challenging, which makes for exciting golf throughout the week.
2. The ‘City’ Behind the Scenes
A “small city” is built to accommodate golf fans and the infrastructure needed to host the championship.
The U.S. Open is one of the world’s largest sporting events and welcomes tens of thousands of golf fans onto the grounds each day. It takes an army of people approximately four months to essentially build the small city that includes grandstands, portable toilets, concession stands, hospitality areas, media tents, merchandise tents, scoreboards, transportation hubs, and other essential infrastructure.
Construction starts in March/April, and tear-down lasts for several weeks after the championship. While TV mostly shows the action on the course, the build-out is much larger than what fans see on TV.
3. Why Irrigation is Reduced Heading into the OpenIrrigation is reduced in the weeks heading into the U.S. Open, but the reason for that may not be what you think.
Yes, the U.S. Open is known for having fast, firm, and dry conditions, but another practical reason for reducing irrigation is that all those grandstands and infrastructure that were built in the spring are covering up sprinkler heads.
Sprinklers are turned off as infrastructure is built and hand watering is done in areas that come into play. Overhead sprinklers are used as needed during the championship on tees, fairways, and sections of rough inside the gallery ropes and greens irrigation is done exclusively by hand.
4. A Tale of Two Golf CoursesThere are two golf courses at The Los Angeles Country Club.
The North Course will be used for the championship, and the South Course will be used for staging, infrastructure, “Fan Central,” and the main entrance.
Only a few venues that host the U.S. Open have the luxury of an extra course for accommodating all the outside-the-ropes activities and infrastructure that go along with hosting the championship. This is especially helpful in a major metropolitan city such as Los Angeles.
5. Top Superintendents Conducting Course MaintenanceA team of 100 volunteers will assist the maintenance staff at The Los Angeles Country Club during championship week.
The Los Angeles Country Club maintains a regular staff of 50 to 60 people grounds and golf course maintenance. Staff will be gradually shifted onto the North Course in the weeks leading up to the championship, and then a team of approximately 100 volunteers will show up the weekend before.
Who are all these volunteers and what do they do? They are typically golf course superintendents and assistant superintendents from across the country and even around the world who volunteer their time to be part of the U.S. Open golf course maintenance team.
Why so many? The entire golf course needs to be mowed and prepared before 7 a.m. each morning. The crew typically starts at 4 a.m. and leaves the course just before 7. They return to the course around 6 p.m. as play concludes, and work continues into the darkness.
It is not unusual to see some of the top superintendents in the country raking bunkers, filling divots, or mowing tees at the U.S. Open. This helps to ensure that no detail is missed and the very best conditions are produced for our national championship.
Are you looking forward to watching the action like I am? Now you know the rest of the story.