Rough at U.S. Open might be hit or miss

Times Staff Writer

When is the rough simply too rough? Apparently when it’s the rough at Torrey Pines, where the U.S. Open will be played next week and there is already a concern about the rough that lines the fairways at the oceanside course.

The problem is with the 15-foot width of primary rough, which is troublesome even though it has been cut to only 2 1/4 inches.

The rough is a combination of Kikuyu, over-seeded rye and poa annua, and that’s what is concerning the USGA right now.

“It’s almost beyond belief,” said Mike Davis, senior director of rules and competitions who is in charge of setting up the course.


Davis walked the course late Monday afternoon and said he dropped about 250 balls in the rough to check the conditions.

Some of the balls sank deep in the grass, some went halfway and some sat right on top of the grass as if they were placed on a tee.

“We’ve never had rough this short, but we’ve never had Kikuyu in the mix,” Davis said today. “My gosh, you could drop two balls only three inches from each other, and one disappears and the other stays right up on top. It’s hard to believe. Is this the U.S. Open or the World Junior Championship?”

The USGA’s philosophy about the first cut of rough is that it wants players to be able to play a shot forward toward the green, but it also wants the rough to hurt distance control. Davis said the USGA also likes the idea of inconsistency of lies in the rough, but at Torrey Pines right now there is too much inconsistency.


Davis said a specific cutting technique could help solve the problem.

“I’m hoping that works,” he said.

The Open will be played June 12-15 at the 7,643-yard Torrey Pines South Course in La Jolla.