Everybody has an opinion, but in golf, some carry more weight than others. Jack Nicklaus is one of those people. So when the all-time leading major winner, which includes four U.S. Open titles tied for the most all time, calls out the USGA for getting away from its identity by going to new venues, folks may want to listen.
With all eyes will be on Erin Hills as it will host the 117th playing of the U.S. Open next week for the first time, Nicklaus recently spoke his mind on the subject in an interview with Golf World’s Tim Roseforte:
Jack Nicklaus never mentioned USGA executive director Mike Davis by name, but the four-time U.S. Open champion did send an old-school message to him and the government body about going to non-traditional Open venues such as Chambers Bay and Erin Hills. Although Royal Portrush has been awarded the Open Championship in 2019, he used the R&A template of sticking with the same rota of traditional courses as a better system.
“I think that the USGA has gotten away from their identity with what they’re doing. I do,” Nicklaus said to reporters after his news conference at Muirfield Village last Tuesday. “I happened to like the U.S. Open the way it was.”
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) June 5, 2017
Admitting he was old-fashioned, the 77-year-old Nicklaus also preferred the National Open being more of an “ultimate test” when Joe Dey and P.J. Boatwright were in charge of courses going back to Nicklaus’ first Open 60 years ago in 1957.
It should be pointed out, the list of recent Open champions does include Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy. Additionally, the venues for future Opens have a very traditional feel—Shinnecock Hills in 2018, Pebble Beach in 2019, Winged Foot in 2020—with only Los Angeles Country Club (2023) being a first-time host between now and 2026.
“I just happen to love what I grew up on and I thought that the era that I played in, I thought that the golf courses were fantastic,” Nicklaus said. “They’re getting away from that. And I don’t know whether that’s good or bad, it’s just different.”
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