by Jeff Skinner
The 111th U.S. Open Championship turned out to be an exciting and historic tournament. All those crybabies that are whining about the course playing too easy need to lighten up a bit. Rory McIlroy played inspired golf and those other 19 players that broke par put on an excellent show.
The atmosphere at Congressional was thrilling and the fans adopted Rory as one of their own. I spent a few days watching the world’s best golfers and enjoying the USGA’s biggest and best party. There is nothing like an Open for excitement and each day was better than the last.
Watching golf live at a major is nothing like watching on television. You only get to see those golfers in front of you. It’s not like watching a broadcast where you get to see the entire field as they cut from player to player. We setup camp, in the shade of course, at a few holes and let the players come to us. The USGA has a few deals with some corporate partners that make the experience more enjoyable. If you have a certain credit card you can get a small video player that gives you the live telecast, leaderboard and some other options. You can also opt for a small radio that gives you a live play by play. These are great additions to allow the fans to know what is happening on other parts of the course.
One thing the USGA may consider is upgrading the scoreboards they use at the Open. Presently they still use the old type with the magnetic letters that are updated manually by volunteers. They’ve been around for decades and have served the purpose for a long time. But sitting at a green can be tedious and if you don’t have one of those little portable devices like the radio or monitor you really don’t get the full picture of the tournament.
This may sound like blasphemy to those in the USGA but maybe they could take a look at the digital scoreboards that the PGA Tour uses each week. I know the USGA likes to do things their own way but this is an area that could use a bit of improvement. The USGA says they like to take care of their patrons and this is an opportunity to do so.
The technology is there to improve the experience for the paying public. I am not saying we need personal bios of the players or advertisements but a scrolling leaderboard and a scorecard of the players on the hole would be nice. All this would be updated live as it happens, not five minutes after we hear the roar of a birdie two holes over.
I appreciate all the USGA does at its championships and how they protect the game. But this is one area that the USGA should try to address. The old boards look quaint but they could keep that look with some creative graphics while at the same time improving the onsite experience. It is time to come into the modern age and update those old leaderboards.