Six Words Is All It TakesDecember 10, 2008
By Scott Smith, USGA
|Think you could break 100 on Bethpage Black
from the tips and set up for the U.S. Open? Enter the U.S. Open
Challenge and you may get the chance to show the world you can.
Word from our friends at Golf Digest is that the inspiration for
the six-word signup for the 2009 U.S. Open Challenge came from Golf
Digest Creative Director Bob Carney. His job was to brainstorm a
way to top the 65,000 entrants to the 2008 Challenge contest who
mustered up 100-word essays on why they thought they could break
100 at Torrey Pines in U.S. Open condition.
Carney recalled a writing contest that Ernest Hemingway entered as
a youngster, to pen the world's shortest novel. Hemingway won with
this tautly tragic piece of prose: "Baby shoes, never worn. For
An average amateur playing 18 holes at Bethpage Black, under U.S.
Open conditions and USGA Rules, will certainly involve drama; it
may even end badly, but we're far from tragedy. As NBC Today Show
host Matt Lauer said after playing in the first Challenge at
Torrey: "It was the most incredible experience I've had on a golf
course and yet the most horrifying." Lauer, a 6-handicapper,
started off with a snap-hook on the first tee. He continued: "I
remember at one point during the first four or five holes just
being in a tizzy because I was playing so poorly, and then all of a
sudden being reconnected to the reality of just what a special
opportunity this day was."
Lauer's reality check came from a fan, who shouted, "Hang in there,
Matt!" He looked over to the gallery and saw that it was none other
than Fred Couples following the round from outside the ropes. "So
no matter how miserable I felt about the way I was playing," Lauer
said, "I kept thinking, 'How many millions of golfers out there
would want to be in my golf shoes right now?'"
All it takes to put yourself in Lauer's shoes, in June at Bethpage
Black, is six words.
Hey, how hard could it be? (That's six words right there.)
If you're judging by the bottom line, the six-word stricture is
doing the trick: Since the start of the Challenge contest on Nov.
7, entries are running at roughly double last year's rate. Others
are not convinced that settling on the right six words is so
simple, as this hilarious exchange on a recent Mike & Mike
sports talk show on ESPN2 suggests:
MikeGreenberg: "The way you get to be a part of this foursome this year with
[Michael] Jordan and whatever the other two celebrities they wind
up getting, is a six-word essay.MikeGolic: Where was that when I was in school? Your home work tonight is
write a six-word essay. Whoo-hoo!Mike: Let me tell you, to write a good six-word essay is much harder
than a good 600-word essay.Mike: You added the word "good." I'll take my chances on a good
six-word over 600-words.Mike: That's you.Mike: No, no, no. That's most of America.Mike: To write a good -- let me put it this way. It would be harder
to write a six-word essay that would be worth reading than to write
a 600-word essay.Mike: If you give somebody the choice of a 600-word essay over a
six-word essay, we know which way they're going to go. End of
That was hardly the end of the story for Mike and Mike that
morning, as they spent many, many more words discussing the
relative merits of six words vs. 600.
To provide you with some inspiration, we took a sneak peek at some
of the 20,000 or so entries submitted to date. For sure, most of
the six-word entries play off the "I live for golf" theme, but it
soon becomes clear that most of sign-ups fall into several basic
archetypes, from the "Bring it on" boasters to the "What have I got
to lose?" hopefuls to the "Watch my train wreck" types:
The "Bring it on" golfers:
Piece of cake, yes I can!
Patrick, Ventura, Calif.
Strong enough for the Bethpage rough.
Michael, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Nothing compared to Baghdad Country Club!
Nick, Pawleys Island, S.C.The "What have I got to lose?" golfers:
Asked Wife Got Permission Coming Soon.
Carlos, Guaynabo, P.R.
We beat Russia in hockey, right?
Jason, Frederick, Md.
Please Please Please Please Please Please.
Andrew, Cypress, Cal if.The "Watch my train wreck" golfers:
The nation needs a good laugh.
Edward, Minneapolis, Minn.
Single Dad looking to embarrass daughter.
Todd, North Port Carrier Annex, Fla.
Dress Like Tiger. Swing Like Barkley.
James, Bridgewater, Mass.
Think you can do better? Think you could break 100 at Bethpage
Black? Six words is all it takes to find out.
The deadline to submit your six-word entry and optional 60-second
Web video is Jan. 29, 2009. To sign up for the 2009 U.S. Open
Scott Smith is Director of Communications, Editor. As a USGA
staffer, he's not eligible to enter the U.S. Open Challenge, but if
he could, the 14.3 handicapper's six-word entry would be, "A true
miracle makes great TV" - because that's what it would take for him
to break 100 from the U.S. Open tees at Bethpage Black.