My Usual GameJune 25, 2015

Reader's Trip Report: The U.S. Open by periscope

I met Steve Davis, a reader in California, at Tiger Woods' World Challenge in 2012. He was easy to spot because he was carrying a homemade periscope, which he was using to see over the heads of people standing in front of him. Note the beer holder:

Periscopes used to be common at golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open. These two are from 1988:

Many spectators at the 1993 Ryder Cup, which I attended (at the Belfry, in England), watched the tournament through periscopes that looked like the boxes that bottles of Johnny Walker scotch come in. (Johnny Walker sponsored the tournament.) The Belfry is a terrible course for spectators, because there are few good vantage points. The periscopes made things better for the people who had them and worse for the people who didn't. (I saw one guy carrying a paint can, which he stood on until he got too drunk to keep his balance.) Davis's periscope is a big improvement over those old ones, because the mirrors are separated by dowels rather than solid panels: if you're standing behind him, you can see through it. He has taken versions of his invention to many tournaments, including this year's U.S. Open:

Davis works for a copier company, and has "wallpapered" his periscope with color copies of golf mementos. His report from Chambers Bay:

I probably don't have to tell you how great the U.S. Open was this year. The average person walking the course couldn't see a lot, though. The fairways were so brown that it was hard to pick up the ball off the tee box. If you were lucky enough to be standing close to a green, you were set -- but don't move and think you're going to find another spot like that one. My periscope saved my ass, because I could go pretty much anywhere and still see. Here I am on the ninth hole, a par 3:

Davis continues:

I let a lot of other people use it on Saturday and Sunday, and they were amazed at how well they could see from where they were standing -- including one girl who was happy because she could watch Jason Day putting on No. 10. The periscope I took to Chambers Bay was an improvement over the one you saw at Sherwood Country Club. I changed the mirror angle, to give it a better field of vision, and I removed the belt strap, because I found that it was just as easy to carry without it, by putting my arm through the poles. I kept the beverage holder, though.

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