US Open

As I’m sure you all know, over the last week, qualifying rounds and match play for the 2017 US Open have been under way. And as I’m sure most of you know, the tournament — and it’s conditions — have been met with a fair bit of criticism and scrutiny.

From fans, ex-tour champions, and current touring players — even those that have bowled the event.

Much of the criticism surrounding the event has to do with the “double burn” squads. Obviously, the double burn, is exactly as it sounds. It is the third squad of the day without re-oil. So, needless to say, the lanes hooked.

So much, in fact, that some players — such as Ryan Shafer — decided to WD and take to Facebook to defend his decision.

On Facebook he cited his inability to combat the conditions using ball speed or loft due to some pre-existing injuries his body has accumulated over the years.

Which is, no doubt, totally understandable. If he has concerns about his health, there’s no doubt he should have withdrawn. But after his post, Facebook went a tad bit crazy.

People started posting that the lanes were “unplayable” and that they clearly favored a specific type of bowler.

People were insinuating that the players had to loft the ball 15ft down the lane and throw it as hard as they could possibly throw it just to play. And that simply wasn’t the case. Not from my vantage point.

Now hear me out: there is no doubt that the lanes were hard. There’s no denying that the lanes were dry. But from my couch — watching Xtra Frame — I seen a number of players playing the lanes in a variety of ways; even on the double burn, some of the players that started way in moved to the extreme right part of the lane that hadn’t yet really been used once they ran out of room to the left.

In addition to watching, I talked to several bowlers that competed this week and many of them felt the same way: the lanes were absolutely hard. Incredibly so, even. But they never felt that the pattern or — as some have insinuated — the USBC forced players to loft the ball 15ft down the lane. There were alternatives. And, for the record, none of them looked very good on the double burn; they were just flat out hard.

And that’s exactly how the US Open is supposed to be. It’s how it’s always been: hard. It is a shot makers tournament. And it always will be. Regardless of whether you’re lofting it 15ft, laying it down early and backing your hand out of it like Duke did, or going right to left the way Tommy Jones did, you had to make shots.

And those are the ones that bowled the best. Not the ones who could loft it the farthest. Not the ones that could throw it the hardest.

After qualifying, Norm Duke, John Szczerbinski, Chris Loschetter, and Jason Sterner are at or near the top of the leaderboard, and none of them are known for their extreme lofting techniques or their ball speed. They’re known for being good. They’re known for being shot makers. And that’s exactly what they are, and that’s exactly what was rewarded.

Listen, if you’d like to get into whether or not the double burn should be removed in future years, that’s a different story. Maybe it should be. That isn’t for me to decide. That is another argument for another article, perhaps. But I can assure you that if this tournament “required” that the players loft it 1/4 of the way down the lane at 20mph, the leaderboard would look quite a bit differently than it did after the qualifying rounds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *