When Tiger Woods described Pebble Beach Golf Links' greens as "awful" in the wake of his first round in the U.S. Open, he was roundly and appropriately criticized.
USGA executive director David Fay took him to task, arguing that Pebble Beach's greens had never been better, that some of the best superintendents and a dedicated staff worked tirelessly on getting the best from them. All true.
Here's another reason: A preponderance of rounds in the U.S., 78 percent according to the National Golf Foundation, are played on public courses, most of them featuring greens considerably worse than those on which the Open was played. Many of those same golfers would donate a body part for the opportunity to Pebble Beach at its worst. Bad form, Tiger.
Pebble's greens are poa annua, which get bumpy in the afternoon. Unavoidable. Here's what Ernie Els wrote on his website: "The greens weren't what you'd call perfect, but other than that it was one of the better U.S. Open set-ups that I've seen."
Yet Els blamed his putting woes in the first round on himself. "After my round I went straight to the practice green and worked hard on my putting and managed to sort a few things out," he wrote.
Incidentally, the USGA emphasis on taking the Open to more public facilities is admirable, but understand this: the public courses on which the Open is played in no way resemble the public courses as the public plays them.
Woods is a product of public golf, having been weened on some courses for which "awful" would represent an improvement in their condition day in and day out.
He should know better.
-- John Strege