When the going gets tough, the rough gets cut.
That was the message sent when the USGA responded to complaints from players by having mowers trim the second cut of rough at Oakmont Country Club to 4 inches in advance of the U.S. Open, which begins Thursday.
And so Oakmont’s trademark rough, thick as a thicket, has been snipped — it had grown as high as 6 inches in some areas. The USGA asked that the rough get cut toward the green, making it easier for balls to lay with the high grass, rather than against it, giving players a cleaner shot.
On Monday, golfer Justin Thomas posted a video on Instagram in which he dropped a ball straight down into the rough, only to watch it disappear in the grass.
“Yeah,” he wrote, “I’d say Oakmont is ready.”
Dash’s day in the spotlight
Jason Day’s 3-year-old son, Dash, gained a lot of attention last year for his enthusiastic celebration of his father’s PGA Championship win.
Now, Dash Day is an even bigger star, featured in an social media advertising campaign for the PGA Tour Superstore. His mother, Day’s wife Ellie, had to help him with the lines.
“He’s going to have those memories to look back on,” Jason Day said. “We’re going to have that commercial forever and know that, like, when he’s my age, he’ll be able to see, you know, when he was little, he ran out on the greens when I won tournaments. It’s pretty neat.”
The world’s No. 1 golfer, a self-described “boring” guy who said he prefers to live a low-key life out of the spotlight, said he is making more of an effort to soak in all the perks that come with his stardom so that his children -— Dash and Lucy — can take enjoy it, too. Day threw out the first pitch at Saturday’s Pirates game, the kind of exposure he would have previously avoided.
“What better opportunity than now do I have to get to do this stuff and really look back on it and say I did some pretty cool stuff when I was playing golf?” Day said. “And Dash can have that exact same thought when he’s growing up, saying that he did some pretty cool stuff. He got to travel the world. He got to be on TV and do some pretty fun things.”
Golfers embrace technology
A Dell laptop computer sat in the shade of Gregor Main’s Titleist golf bag to hide it from the sun’s rays at Oakmont.
Main, a former UCLA golfer, worked through his bag during a Tuesday morning practice session. Each swing of each club was converted into numbers on the laptop’s screen moments after impact using TrackMan technology.
TrackMan brands itself as “the best and most accurate launch monitor and golf radar.” The TrackMan radar, a tablet-sized screen placed a few feet behind the ball, tracks ball flight data and club data, which can be analyzed by a golfer’s swing coach to help identify any adjustments the golfer needs to make in his swing.
Main admittedly doesn’t look into all of the numbers. That’s the job of his swing coach, Justin Lee, who has to absorb the 27 parameters measured by TrackMan and turn that data into feedback on the driving range.
“My job is to dumb it down and make it as simple as possible,” Lee said.
“It helps him coach me better because sometimes you don’t know where the [club] face is compared to the [club] path,” Main said. “So it’s just so easy to tell what I’m doing instead of just the 2-D video. The numbers are just so accurate. It’s just really easy to figure out what’s going on [with my swing].”
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt. Andy Wittry: email@example.com.