Aug
4
2010
Playing a Championship Course, the Day After the Pros
By Stephanie Wei under US Senior Open

I’m sure you’re all on the edge of seats wondering what it was like to play at Sahalee on Monday. Well, it was early and it was damp. And I felt really prepared with loaner clubs and a stiff back. It was also encouraging to have the shanks on the range. This is going to be just delightful, I thought. Oddly enough, Sahalee played easier than I expected.

First of all, I’m pretty sure the course got a hosing on Sunday night and Monday morning. The greens were a lot slower than the last time I played. The rough looked like it had been cut, but it was still thick. And I guess hitting 13 out of 14 fairways helps at “Sa-hallway” — the nickname that players were calling it in the locker room.

My friend told me that her driver was pretty good. What kind is it? “I don’t know, a Ping something. You’ll see.” I’ve never played with a Ping driver, but they’re all pretty much the same.

Narrow? What were the pros talking about? I wasn’t even hitting it that great. These fairways are wide open! Okay, fine, I was driving it on a string for the most part. Too bad I couldn’t do anything else. I had no idea how far I hit the irons. I started to adjust finally on the last few holes. I wasn’t really focusing either. But I had fun! I even had two birdies. I’m not certain what I shot — 82? 83? Who knows. (Last time I fired a 79, but felt like I didn’t hit it as well off the tee.)

The course started to dry up toward the end. I wish I could have played in the afternoon for a more accurate comparison to what the pros were playing. The fairways were definitely rock hard, though. They’re usually much softer. The pins were in the same place they had been on Sunday.

I did learn some strategy from watching the old geezers play all week. Interesting how that happens.

I’m still shocked Sahalee’s greens are poa annua, but I guess it does explain why I never liked them and couldn’t read them. I saw on the telecast that they were poa, and I said, no, they can’t be — they’re too smooth and fast! But on Sunday, Langer said in his press conference:

I just talked to the greenskeeper out on the 18th and I told him I’ve never seen poa annua greens this good and I asked him what the secret was but he wouldn’t tell me.  I played a lot of poa annua greens whether it’s Pebble, San Diego, west coast, and Europe, and they usually get bumpy, especially in the afternoon when the grass grows.  The ball starts hopping around and it’s difficult to putt on greens like that.

Here they were true all day long from morning till night and it was phenomenal how the condition of the golf course was.

The real winner of the week? Sahalee. Perhaps we’ll see more championships held in the Northwest. It seems like all parties enjoyed being here. Hell, I haven’t been able to pull myself away to leave yet.