CHASKA, Minn. – Almost three decades ago, of course, Dave Hill made headlines by making disparaging remarks about Hazeltine National, then an 8-year-old course designed by Robert Trent Jones.
“The man who designed this course had his blueprints upside down,” Hill said then at the 1970 U.S. Open. “What this place needs is 88 acres of corn and a few cows. Somebody ruined a good farm.”
Move forward 29 years and Hazeltine National is a 7,674-yard course that has been renovated and lengthened by Jones’ son, Rees. The course has hosted U.S. Opens and PGAs, including this week’s, and will play host to the Ryder Cup in 2016.
On Wednesday, I happened to run into a prominent player on the first tee and asked a very innocent question in making small talk: “What do you think of this ballpark?”
What I didn’t expect to get back was a profanity-laced barrage that made one think of Dave Hill’s criticism of yore.
“I think it’s (expletive expletive),” the player said. “It’s long and boring. I’m bored. Aren’t you bored? Every year it’s the longest par 5 in PGA history and the longest par 4. There’s a 260-yard par 3 where you try to hit wood to the center of the green. Boring. I’m bored. What’s the point?”
He didn’t stop there.
“There’s a 520-yard par 4,” the man went on. “The whole thing just takes away skill and creativity. It’s about length. I don’t get it. I’m bored.”
P.S. I believe I actually left out a few other mentions of “bored” or “boring.”