Is it Really the US Open?


The USGA has announced that the US Open, and three other major championships, will not have any qualifying this year which means that the field will be selected through the exemption process. “ … this structure provides the best path forward for us (USGA) to conduct these championships in 2020.”

This is an effort to restructure and resurrect a championship damaged by the catastrophic blow we have all experienced.

I applaud the USGA for trying to cope with the conundrum – do we, or do we not hold an “Open” event. The safety factor can be overcome with some major logistics problems, and the spectators may be have to be reduced in number, all of which will have an effect on the concomitant revenues – but this should not be, and I must believe is not, a factor in the decision to conduct the event anyway.

The question becomes is this really an “Open” championship or is this an Open in name only and really an invitational?

If the US Open is “open” the implication is that it is open to everybody who meets certain skill level criteria. It is not gender specific, but it does require a great deal of hope and optimism. In the US Open various exemptions from having to qualify are awarded. These exemptions are acceptable to most contestants who apply to play in the US Open, as it rewards and recognizes past performance.

These exemptions do, however, reduce the number of places available to the rest of the field – in some cases about 9,000 – who have aspired to play in one of the most prestigious events in golf. In many cases, living a dream in the hopes that they might win, while setting aside the realistic odds. But this is what the US Open is all about, a dream that one may prevail over enormous odds.

There are only 156 players who will eventually tee it up in the US Open, more than 50 of whom have not had to go through the qualifying stages, and only 60 plus ties making it to the third round. This means that 1.0% of those who enter and go through the qualifying rounds process, will tee it up for the first round and only about 0.5% will make it to the third round. These odds are not good but a lot better than winning the Power Ball lottery, which too survives on hope.

The bigger concern is that the lack of qualifying rounds takes the heart out of, and marginalizes the US Open for many of those who have had a lifetime dream torn away from them.

I do not criticize the USGA, which is part of my DNA, and in fact applaud their sincere efforts to conduct the championships which is a major part of the of the USGA’s mission but care very much for those who aspire to be a US Open champion and have worked so hard to get there only to have this dream taken from them.

Hope is one of the most important attributes we have, and that which defines our path to success and is part of what makes us who we are. Let us protect The US Open and the aspirations of those enter. For those selected to play, in this modified event we wish them well and will enjoy watching them compete.

Please share your thoughts with us and other Frankly Friends by replying below.

Putt well.


15 thoughts on “Is it Really the US Open?

  1. I recognize the difficult position that the U.S.G.A. has been put in and in many respects, it’s a “no win” situation for them. With that said, I don’t understand why at least some qualifying events could be held at locations that have golf courses open. They may not be able to accept 9,000 applicants; however several qualifiers could be held to accommodate perhaps 500-600 of the lowest handicap applicants, especially with the date being moved.
    Without some opportunities for these qualifiers to play, the tournament does not meet the spirit of our “Open Championship”.

  2. I can’t imagine that this was an easy decision for the USGA to make. It would be a nice gesture if they opened up a few more spots next year, even if only one year.

  3. Just another example of the USGA putting the elite professional above the rest of the golf world. In the early 20th century “professional” golfers were not allowed in tournaments because they were working class and only the wealthy could afford to maintain amateur status. The USGA is a stickler about the traditions of golf unless it benefits their desires.

  4. You have labeled it correctly, Frank. It’s no longer an “Open” and should be renamed The U. S. Invitational. I understand the safety concerns, the logistical issues, potential liabilities, etc., but this is akin to when the USGA eliminated the PubLinx Championships – the last national championship available to amateurs who were not so economically privileged.

  5. Fred is correct. It’s a fools errand to think a qualifier will win, even though some of those qualifiers are current PGA Tour players. Fact is, years ago Jack Nicklaus said the US Open is the easiest major to win due to there only being a handful of players who, by skill and demeanor, have a legitimate chance. Couple that with the most brutal course conditions on the planet and the list of potential winners is truly small. Still, for many, the ultimate goal isn’t winning, its participation. Who can be faulted for that – at least among us mere mortals. From that perspective, the US Open is diminished in its character, but not in its result.
    By the way, I agree with Conrad: USGA, admit that Hogan’s 1942 win IS an Open victory. But we all know you won’t.

  6. I do not know why the USGA just could not have Open Qualifiers in the states that are allowing golf……..?????>>>>>>

  7. How about more qualifying tournaments per stage across disperse locations. Have caddies, when used, use a pull cart with the bag, only the player touches the bag. Have USGA official touch the flag. Maybe the same at the USGA Open events. Show how golf can be played safely.

    • Hi Tommy, I hope so, and assume that would be the case. However, I haven’t read any pledge, but can only imagine that they would want to return to the format that has existed for so many years. Thanks for your question.

      • The USGA said that Mr, Hogans win did not count as an official win, mainly because of a lack of qualifying for players. I grew up caddying at Ridgemoor CC in Chicago, where this happened, It would be nice to see history be corrected .CGG…

  8. There have only been two qualifying players who went on to win the US Open, Ken Venturi and Orville Moody, both in the sixties. I don’t think the 2020 champion will be diminished but there will be an asterisk after his name. The huge amount of television revenue is probably a factor.

  9. Hello, then Mr, Hogans’ 1942 US Open win, the Hale America Open win, should then be declared an “official” win, Drive safely, stay healthy, CGG…

  10. This year the TV graphics wizards should put the word Open in parentheses and wearing a COVID-19 mask.

    • Thank you, Frank. I guess qualifying is a relative term. One could say that the everyone this year qualifies by their rankings, not just a few rounds at different sites. But on the other side of the argument where would Lee Trevino be without at least some opportunity for truly “open” qualifying. But I’m glad we will have an Open this year. And can adjust next year.

      Kind regards
      Hank Holt

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