RAND JERRIS: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to media day for the 111th United States Open Championship here at Congressional Country Club. My name is Rand Jerris, and I am the managing director of communications for the United States Golf Association. As many of you know, the USGA and the R&A are partners in governing the game around the world. The USGA annually conducts 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, the Women's Open, the Senior Open and 10 national amateur championships. We also conduct state team championships and help to conduct the Walker Cup, the Curtis Cup and the World Amateur Team Championships.
The USGA's responsibilities are broad. We oversee Course Rating and Handicapping systems. We write and administer the Rules of Golf and the Rules of Amateur Status together with the R&A, conduct equipment testing for conformance to the rules and provide consultation on environmental and turfgrass issues.
Since 1920, the USGA has been a leader worldwide in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. The USGA is also a primary steward for the game's history and maintains an ongoing grants program. Complete information about the USGA and its functions is available on our website, or feel free to ask any of the communications staff members or myself who are here today.
It's been 14 years since the USGA last conducted a championship here at Congressional, and we're very excited to be back. We're also very excited about the support for the championship that's clearly growing in the local community.
As we're here today, we're going to be sending out a release about ticket sales for the U.S. Open, and we're very pleased to announce that Daily Grounds tickets and Trophy Club tickets for the weekend, for Saturday and Sunday, are now sold out. We have a very limited number of tickets remaining for Thursday and Friday. We expect those to sell out, as well, and we'd ask for your support in helping us spread the news and the information about ticket sales and ticket availability.
As a reminder, we also have a generous ticket program for juniors during the championship. Juniors 12 and under are admitted free, and juniors 13 to 17 are admitted at a reduced rate of $15 for practice rounds and $35 for championship rounds, and every year we're very pleased and proud to see the number of families that come out to the U.S. Open and enjoy the day together, parents and children.
It's my pleasure now to turn the program over to Jim Hyler, who is the president of the United States Golf Association.
JIM HYLER: Thank you, Rand, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Let me welcome all of you to our U.S. Open media day. We're excited that you're here, and certainly we have a very special treat with Graeme McDowell being on site, and he'll be joining us shortly, so I hope you enjoy the day.
Before getting to golf and the U.S. Open, I think it's appropriate to make a brief comment on the news of the day. As you all are aware, last evening President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, certainly a significant event in the life of our country, and I'd like to give particular kudos to all those involved in that operation, but particularly the 24 very brave Navy Seals who rappelled into very hostile territory and environment and took care of business. So kudos to them, and fortunately they all got out unscathed.
Now on to golf. It's really a pleasure for all of us at the USGA to be back at Congressional. We have a history here, a wonderful history here, and it also kicks off our championship season. Over the next five months 13 individuals and two teams will be crowned USGA champions, both professionals and amateurs, men and women, and none will be as visible as the 111th U.S. Open champion who will be crowned here at Congressional.
This will be our third U.S. Open at Congressional and sixth overall USGA championship to be held here. In 1964 we all remember the unbelievable performance of Ken Venturi, who endured incredible heat and humidity playing 36 holes on Saturday to be the only competitor who finished under par and become the U.S. Open champion. We're delighted to note the fact that Ken will be here during Open week at Congressional. I think it will be a very special opportunity for all of us to interact with Ken during the week.
In 1997 Ernie Els also battled some challenging weather conditions. He held off Tom Lehman and Colin Montgomerie to win his second U.S. Open title. Congressional has certainly had many special moments in major championship golf, and we know that will continue, particularly with the 2011 U.S. Open.
As we return to Congressional for this year's Open, most of you are aware that we have a new leader at the helm of the USGA. Mike Davis is the seventh executive director in the 116‑year history of the Association. Mike succeeded David Fay, who served with distinction for more than two decades. Mike has had a variety of duties since joining the USGA 21 years ago, including the all‑important responsibility of setting up our U.S. Open courses for championship play. And as I commented on March 2nd when we announced Mike's appointment as executive director, and some of you were probably on the call, I said we would be idiots if we took him out of U.S. Open setup. He will continue to oversee the setup of the golf course here at Congressional.
Being executive director and keeping a hand in the U.S. Open setup and site selection process represents tremendous dedication to the USGA, and I want to personally thank Mike for all he does for us, and we look forward to an exciting future with Mike at the helm.
Before we get to Mike and Tom O'Toole, our championship chairman, to talk about the golf course, let me take a moment and talk about two broad issues that face golf. First is the environment. Many of you are aware of the USGA's strong belief that a movement toward more effective environmental sustainability practices in the construction and maintenance of golf courses is essential to the future viability of the game. A proactive approach in our industry can first and foremost reduce water use, which we feel is the single largest threat to the game in the U.S.
Proper planning and management may also reduce pesticide use and fertilizer use while improving overall turf health and reintroducing a focus on playability through the creation of firm and fast course conditions that emphasize shotmaking and the ground game rather than lush, soft conditions.
I encourage you to learn more about our environmental initiatives by speaking with a member of our communications team and also visiting our website at USGA.org.
The second issue deserving mention is the ever‑growing international presence in the game of golf. It's no secret to anyone who looks at the growth in rounds played overseas and the inclusion of golf in the 2016 Olympic Games that the game has fully arrived as a global phenomenon. In fact, if you look at the holders of the trophies of the last four majors, we have two South Africans, a Northern Irishman and a German.
This isn't breaking news, of course, but what you may not realize is the USGA is connected to the global present and future of the game in some very important ways. For example, in 2011, we anticipate that more than 35,000 players representing more than 80 countries will file entries to participate in our 13 annual national championships. Our USGA Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries. With our partners at the R&A we write and administer the rules of golf throughout the world. We have also recently partnered with the R&A to promote the World Amateur Golf Ranking as the global standard for amateur golf. Starting this season, we will use the World Amateur Golf Ranking as one of the exemption categories for our men's amateur championships, a move that we believe will produce stronger international fields in these competitions.
As you continue your vital work in reporting on the game, we want to serve as a resource to you and also to be recognized for our important role in making golf the global game that it is. And once again, members of our communications team will be available to provide information about that.
Before concluding, I want to recognize the many USGA volunteers who donate their time in helping us conduct our national championships. Quite simply, we couldn't do it without these wonderful volunteers. We have roughly 1,300 volunteers who serve on various USGA committees, and we will have around 5,500 volunteers who will be here the week of the U.S. Open to help stage our national championship. To each of them I offer my sincere appreciation and thanks for helping to make the U.S. Open an incredible experience for everyone involved.
Finally, I'd like to take a moment to express our gratitude to our partners and friends here at Congressional Country Club. This is an impressive facility with an exemplary group of individuals supporting its operation. In the months and years leading up to the Open, we have benefited greatly from their knowledge, expertise and dedication, and thanks to all the officers and staff and especially the golf course, grounds crew and superintendent Mike Giuffre for their role in preparing for what we expect will be a memorable 111th U.S. Open Championship.
With that I'd like to turn the program over to Doug Schleifer, president of Congressional Country Club. Doug?
DOUG SCHLEIFER: Thank you, and good morning. We at Congressional are very pleased and honored to be hosting the 2011 U.S. Open Championship, and most importantly we are ready to host the championship. I was asked to say a few words in connection with our preparation, and I can say with confidence that as a result of teamwork, dedication and careful planning over two years in the making that we believe we are fully prepared to host this great championship.
I'd like to thank the members of our team, which include our great general manager Mike Leemhuis, Ben Brundred, Paul Klinedinst, Tim Sullivan and myself. The preparations here are the result of a well‑coordinated effort between the club, the USGA and our fine county and local governments. I'd like to thank Ike Leggett, our county executive, for his support in pulling together a response to a very challenging logistical situation. Those of you who live in Washington know that parking and traffic are no easy challenge to overcome.
We're very proud ‑‑ this is our third U.S. Open. We're very proud of our relationship with the USGA. We're very proud of our place in golf history, and we are committed to continuing that. The past champions, Ken Venturi and Ernie Els, hopefully both will be here during championship week. We're also hosting Ken Venturi, who has graciously decided to come and visit with us on May 20th and 21st, that weekend. He's presented a lot of his U.S. Open memorabilia, his golf clubs, scorecards, and they will be on display during the U.S. Open Championship week, and we're very proud of our relationship to major golf.
Our membership is very excited about the tournament. We had a vote I guess seven years ago when we were awarded the championship, and the membership overwhelmingly voted in support of it. We had over 84 percent vote to have the tournament. Our golf course is ready. It should be spectacular. Our clubhouse and grounds should provide a great stage for one of golf's most cherished championships, and we look forward to the week. Thank you very much.
RAND JERRIS: It's now my distinct pleasure to turn the program over to Tom O'Toole, who is the vice president of the United States Golf Association and chairman of the USGA Championship Committee. I note with particular admiration that Tom has served as a Rules official at more than 125 USGA championships during his career, including every U.S. Open since 1990. Tom?
TOM O'TOOLE: Thank you to all the media here to assist this great club, Congressional Country Club, in its efforts to make this most successful United States Open Championship. On a lighter note, Glen Nager and I just returned from Northern Ireland and meetings with the R&A, our partners as Rand indicated in our Rules process, wrapping up our Rules cycle year in preparation for 2012. More on our Rules subject in a moment, but we had those meetings at Royal Portrush Golf Club, and I noticed as we were entering that little town of Portrush, on the sign welcoming you to that small community, it said, "Welcome to Portrush, home of the 2010 United States Open champion, Graeme McDowell. Obviously Portrush, Great Britain and Ireland, the entire community of Europe, is proud of Graeme.
We at the USGA are also proud, not only because he was on that Sunday in June and still is a worthy champion, but also because he is a humble and respectful champion, as you'll see later because he's here with us today. So on behalf of the USGA and our Championship Committee, a special thanks to Graeme for making his way to Washington, D.C., to share his perspectives of the 2011 version of the U.S. Open and what the 2010 version has meant to him.
Before we get to the business today, President Jim Hyler and Mike Davis asked me to comment on a Rules incident that occurred yesterday on the PGA Tour in their New Orleans event. Some of you may be aware that evidently Webb Simpson was penalized on the 15th hole for breach of Rule 18(2)(b). Now, a caveat to this is Mike Davis and I and Jim were on the golf course in contemplation of this championship, so we didn't have an opportunity to view any of the video or the facts surrounding this, and I think our Rules chairman, Glen Nager, was probably fast working trying to catch up after our Northern Ireland trip.
Suffice it to say that rule 18(2)(b) is a long‑standing rule that if the ball moves after a player addresses it, the Rules deem that that player has caused that ball to move. I happen to have been a member of the USGA Rules of Golf committee since 2004, the prior Rules cycle. Glen Nager and I have been members of our joint Rules committee in this entire Rules cycle since 2008, and I can tell you that this subject has been a point of discussion in both Rules cycles. In fact, subject to such approvals that will occur hopefully in the coming months between our USGA Executive Committee and the Royal & Ancient Rules Limited that there is a proposed change to Rule 18(2)(b), which is a new exception under that rule, which is if it was known or virtually certain that the player did not cause his ball to move, then the Rule under 18(2)(b) does not apply. In other words, if some other agency, wind or gravity, was known to cause that ball to move, no penalty would be applied to that player.
Now, I think it's important to note, and in fact, Glen Nager, our Rules chairman, will be here to answer any questions more specific about this after our press conference, Glen is here in the front row, but we thought it was important that the media understand in this captive opportunity that this is not a reaction to something that happened yesterday, that this has been on the plate in discussion with our partners at the R&A since well before 2004.
Thank you for your indulgence on that subject.
So now to the task at hand. Our 2011 championship season is imminent, and in fact, that’s what we're in the business of conducting is national championships. Of course we kick off that effort right here at Congressional Country Club on June 16 to 19 and that’s why we're here today, for the 111th playing of our United States Open Championship.
Some of our other highlights for 2011, the Women's Amateur Public Links and the Amateur Public Links will be conducted at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. It will be the first time that we conduct the Women's Amateur Public Links and the men’sAmateur Public Links simultaneously at the same courses, in this instance Bandon Trails and Old Macdonald, part of that Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, and because of the influence of Mike Davis, that resort can now enjoy the notoriety to have had national championships on all four of their golf courses.
The U.S. Women's Open returns to the famed Broadmoor Resort, site of one of Jack Nicklaus's United States Amateur championships, and of course, site of Annika Sorenstam's first of her three U.S. Women's Open Championships.
The U.S. Girls' Junior will return to Chicago to the site of two U.S. Open Championships, at the Olympia Fields Country Club. And our U.S. Junior Amateur Championship returns to the Pacific Northwest at the Gold Mountain Club in Bremerton, Washington. The Pacific Northwest is an area that we've cultivated lately, and of course included in that cultivation is our first United States Open Championship there in 2015.
The U.S. Senior Open returns to the storied Inverness Club, of course the site of four United States Open Championships, in Toledo, Ohio, and also the 2003 U.S. Senior Open championship won by Bruce Lietzke.
The U.S. Women's Amateur Championship will be hosted at Rhode Island Country Club, celebrating that club's 100th anniversary on that wonderful Donald Ross gem.
And finally, our U.S. Amateur Championship will be conducted at what you all know as a reasonably new public golf course, Erin Hills, in Erin, Wisconsin, which, of course, again, is the host site of the 2017 United States Open Championship.
One of the things we generally discuss at this press and media day is our U.S. Open course-setup philosophy. I had the enjoyment to be on the golf course the last two days with Jim Hyler and Mike Davis, had the enjoyment as Rand mentioned to be here in both 1995 and 1997 and the recent USGA championships at Congressional, and I can tell you the changes that this club has implemented are fabulous. While Mike Davis will review with specificity our 2011 U.S. Open setup, it's important we review with this group, again, our U.S. Open course-setup philosophy.
In the fall of 2004, Walter Driver, the then‑chairman of the Championship Committee, implemented a written U.S. Open setup philosophy, which set forth 14 criteria or factors. You can find that U.S. Open philosophy at www.USOPEN.com.
This philosophy is, in short, the U.S. Open should be the most rigorous, the most difficult yet fair test in championship golf, an examination which tests both the players' physical capabilities, including all shotmaking, and also tests the players' mental capabilities and tenacity.
In conclusion, we want well‑executed shots rewarded and poorly executed shots penalized. An example of some of these key criteria of course is the risk‑reward concept. You may see that on the par‑5 sixth hole this June, or the graduated rough concept that Mike Davis and Jim Hyler implemented at Winged Foot in 2006 and possibly ‑‑ that on shorter holes to have longer rough and on the longer holes to have more graduated rough. Or the use of different teeing grounds; the par‑3 second hole here is 233 yards from the back. You may see Mike Davis' setup include the use of alternate teeing grounds.
We would be remiss in this process if we did not include certain thank‑yous. Jim has made some, and the president has touched on those, also, but at Congressional Country Club, and any time we embark on a U.S. Open, we need a partner and we need a committed and dedicated partner. We have that here, and special thanks, of course, and we heard from our president, Doug Schleifer, but also from Ben Brundred and Paul Klinedinst, our co‑general chairmen, for all their efforts; the general manager and CEO of Congressional Country Club who runs this massive operation, Mike Leemhuis; of course John Lyberger, the director of golf, running the operations of both of those golf courses; and you heard Jim Hyler make reference to the golf course superintendent, Mike Giuffre. Mike Davis will make others, but we certainly could not do it without Mike's efforts. So from the USGA to our partners, we say thank you.
Also the USGA staff is a critical part of this production. They're the best in the business, and all of you I think realize that this is the biggest production in championship golf. It doesn't go without the commitment and dedication by our staff, led by Reg Jones and our managing director of the U.S. Open; Hank Thompson, our championship manager, who's been on‑site here for over two years at Congressional; Frank Bussey, Eric Lee, Charlie Howe, our ops people; Matti Dubberstein, Brittany Prater, our volunteer and player services; and of course Mary Lopuszynski, our merchandise guru. We simply could not do it without you all and without that special expertise and commitment, and again, on behalf of the USGA executive committee, thank you.
In closing, we're excited to be back in our nation's capital to conduct our national championship. It's got a good ring to it, doesn't it? We believe, and Mike will share with you in a minute, that the challenge and difficulty of this golf course will test the greatest players in the world, as was the drama that Jim talked about with Ken Venturi as he battled to victory through his heat exhaustion in 1964, and the excitement of Ernie Els' victory over Colin Montgomerie and Tom Lehman in 1997. We believe the 2011 version of the U.S. Open at Congressional will be just as memorable.
Now we'd like to turn the podium over to Mike Davis, as Jim said, our new executive director, and as I was asked many times in the media about him leaving the championship committee and the U.S. Open setup, and I said, well, we might look stupid but we're not that dumb; he's still in charge. Thanks very much, and thanks for covering this event.
MIKE DAVIS: Good morning, everybody. And I'll be the fifth person to welcome you and thank you, and it really is a thanks to go out to all the media who cover this week. I know we do provide lunch and golf, but nonetheless, it's very important for us to get the word out now that the U.S. Open is the next major that golf has. So I think today ‑‑ we not only will provide you some information here and you'll hear from Graeme McDowell shortly his thoughts because he's actually out playing the golf course right now, but it does mean a lot to have everybody here. So with that, let me jump into it.
As Jim Hyler and Tom O'Toole both mentioned already, this is our third time back with the national Open championship at Congressional. It's great to be back in this country's capital. It really does add a little spark when we come back to Washington, and I think this year certainly we'll see that in June. I'm going to speak a little bit about golf-course setup, and then I'll eventually turn it over to Graeme whenever he gets here.
You know, Tom O'Toole just mentioned how many people on the USGA staff actually are involved with trying to put this on and mentioned some names, and one of the things that many of you in the room probably have thought about before, but when you move an event around from city to city to city, it actually has a lot of challenges to it because in a lot of cases you're working with different vendors, you're working with different governmental officials, you're trying to figure out whether parking and traffic is going to work, and Doug, we're still not sure that's the case here in Washington, D.C., but we've got our fingers crossed.
So there are a lot of challenges with moving the Open around, but one of the great things that you get with moving the Open around is you get a different golf course, a different test of golf each and every year, and that is one of the things that really, I think, makes the U.S. Open and all our national championships quite special is there are different courses for different horses.
Tom just mentioned in our setup philosophy, we want the U.S. Open to be a rigorous test. Ideally, whether it's the U.S. Girls' Junior or the U.S. Open, we want it to be the toughest test but the fairest test for that given group of players on an annual basis. We want to do things like reward good shots. A mediocre shot ought to have a mediocre result, and a poor shot that's poorly executed ought to turn out with a poor result. But having said that, we know golf is golf; sometimes you get good bounces, sometimes you don't, and there is a little luck involved, and that's just part of the game.
You know, in terms of Congressional and Congressional's Blue Course, because that's the one we're playing, they actually have 36 holes here, the Gold and the Blue Course, what is her personality, so to speak? When I think of Congressional, I think, first of all, it's a big golf course. It's always been that way. You know, if history tells us anything, you'd say, somebody that's got the ability to really move the ball out a pretty good distance and then bring their approach shots in with a high ball flight would do well at Congressional. Look who's won here in the past. You've had Greg Norman a couple times, Craig Stadler won the Kemper Open a couple times, again, when he was a long-ball hitter. You've had Tiger Woods win here, you've had Sergio Garcia win here, you've had Tom Weiskopf win the Senior Open here and Fred Couples won here, so I would say this particular year versus say last year when we were at Pebble Beach, which was a shorter golf course, a very firm golf course, a golf course you knew you were going to have to be dealing with the wind, here at Congressional it's a big golf course, and I say that positively because that's going to be one of the tests here.
And it doesn't mean somebody that hits it short is not going to be competitive because that's simply not the case. You saw John Mahaffey win the PGA Championship here in '76 and Ken Venturi when he was playing wasn't overly long, but there certainly is that advantage.
Congressional is a hilly golf course. When you look out from the clubhouse here, you realize what a hilly piece of land it is, but then you start to ‑‑ I was thinking about this this morning when I was making my notes, saying, it doesn't really play that hilly. It's interesting how Devereux Emmet, the original architect who did it, and then Rees Jones, who is sitting back to my left in the back, when they routed the golf course and built it, if you think hole by hole it's not overly hilly. I mean, yes, you have some uphill holes and some downhill holes, but you don't have a lot of uneven lies. Maybe a half dozen holes you do. So I think that's an interesting architectural feature that comes back.
And I don't think that Congressional will end up playing overly firm or fast. I think this golf course is built on heavy soils. It's bentgrass fairways and bentgrass greens, which tend to be slightly softer in terms of when a ball hits bentgrass it doesn't quite react like hitting fescue or hitting a golf course that's built on a sand or sandy loam-type soil. So it's going to play every bit of its 7,545 yards.
And that, by the way, is roughly 300 yards longer than we saw in 1997, but there is one big difference. In '97 and also in 1964, as well, and for that matter, when the AT&T, the Tour event was played here, it played to a par‑70. We're going to play it to a par‑71. Let me repeat that. The USGA is actually making par go up, not down.
And why are we doing that? Well, when Tom O'Toole and I went around and looked at the course, we were convinced that the sixth hole, which had played as a par‑4 in the '64 Open and the '97 Open, would actually be a better par‑5. With the green complex there, it's got a pond that fronts the green and also is very, very tight to the right side of the green, and we just felt as a long par‑4 trying to put hole locations up against the water was not only unfair, it was just really over the top. The guys are good but they're not that good. So that was the reason we decided to go to a par‑71.
And much the same reason that we'll go to, whatever, in Oakmont and make the ninth hole, which the members play as a par‑5, we'll make it a par‑4 because we just feel that it plays that way, or it plays better that way. It's not as if we're trying to artificially change par. It's just when we look at holes, it's a hole‑by‑hole basis.
In terms of the golf-course setup, the specs to it, the putting greens, we're going to have rolling ‑‑ at least we hope to have rolling somewhere between 14 and 14½ on the Stimpmeter. Now, that is very fast. That's a couple feet faster than what we saw in 1997. I believe it to be 2 to 2½ feet faster than what the AT&T played.
And you may say, why are you doing that? Why are you pushing it? Well, one of the reasons is that the greens recently, I guess about a year and a half ago, got rebuilt. They got rebuilt to USGA specifications. There was a new hybrid bentgrass that can much better handle the heat and humidity that Washington, D.C., gets in the summertime months, and we just felt like with some of the very, very, very minor adjustments that the greens could handle those speeds.
And really when you look at green speeds and you're trying to set them, because it's not as if this is a cookie‑cutter approach ‑‑ each year we come up with a speed for that given group of greens. I mean, last year I think we were about 11½ at Pebble Beach. This year we're going to be 14, 14½. When we go to Oakmont, which are the fastest greens that we play, it's somewhere up around the high 14s to mid-15s, which is just lightning fast.
But I think that when you get the speeds there, what it does for us in terms of the setup is it really brings the contours to life. You know, when you set a hole location and all of a sudden there's a lot of strategy to that hole location, you may say, well, if it's back in this quadrant or on this side of the ridge, I can't be on the other side of the ridge, or I can't miss it in a certain area. So it really brings the strategy much more into play, which is what we're really trying to do, because part of this is not only a hard, rigorous test, but we want it to be a mental test, as well. We want the players to really think themselves around the greens.
Some of the other golf course specs, Tom O'Toole mentions that we will graduate the rough again, which means two things; one being the farther off the fairway you hit it, the worse the rough is going to be. But then also on the shorter holes where they'll be hitting more lofted shots, maybe 9s, wedges, 8s in, the rough is slightly longer on those holes versus the holes that are really long ones where they might be back hitting 3‑irons, utility woods, 4‑irons, whatever the case might be.
And the whole idea with the rough that's close in is we really ‑‑ if we get it right, we want to see the players going for the green out of it. Now, that doesn't mean that a player may choose to lay up. That's perfectly okay. But we want them going for it, and allowing them to show their recovery skills. We really think that in addition to requiring somebody to have good accuracy to win a championship, good distance control with their irons, good ability to recover around the greens and good putting, we think that part of the test should be can you recover when you get yourself into trouble. So if we get it right with the rough heights, we will do that to where you'll see players go for the greens.
One of the things that's interesting, I remember when we first started doing this, when we started knocking the height of rough or how penal it was down, there was a lot of comments saying, aren't you making the U.S. Open easier, and we're not. All we're doing is really spreading out the scoring, because if you allow the players to go for the greens, they may hit the green and make par, maybe even birdie, but when they go for it and they miss, that brings a double bogey into play. And I think that's one of the things that we've tried in the last half dozen years to do is put more options with the players, allow them to make choices, and ideally try to spread the scoring out.
I mean, one of the things that ‑‑ everybody loves that back nine at Augusta National. Why do you love it? It's not only pretty and it's got some wonderful holes architecturally, but you can see eagles, but on the same holes you can see bogeys and double bogeys. We love that. That changes that leaderboard quickly. So to the extent that we can do that with our setup, we like doing that. I think that makes it exciting, and instead of just seeing all pars and bogeys at a U.S. Open, you see more birdies but you also see more double bogeys.
Preparation of bunkers: We will prepare bunkers in a manner that hopefully if we get it right, when a player is in a bunker it is every bit as penal, but a different type of shot, but every pit as penal as being in the rough. One of the things we do is we will soften up the bottoms of bunkers so when they have to play a shot out it comes out more knuckly where they can't spin it as well, and in fact ideally ‑‑ I heard one of the best compliments I've ever heard at Torrey Pines, at least it was a compliment to me in 2008; the players were actually saying geez, I'm trying to avoid the bunkers this week. That was a beautiful thing since they are hazards.
Tom mentioned also with golf course setup, we will use multiple teeing grounds. Even though that yardage says a little over 7,500 yards, I doubt you will see us play anything on a given day that ‑‑ in fact, I know we won't be that long. I would guess most days we'll probably end up be in the 7,200-to-7,400 range, so what some of these extra teeing grounds do for us is it allows us to mix the holes up on a given day, maybe match a certain hole location with a certain teeing ground, where you say, well, this hole location here, sure they can get to it with a 5‑iron, but if we put it over here in the corner, they need a 9‑iron, 8‑iron, something like that to get to, so it gives us nice flexibility.
And I guess with the setup philosophy, Tom did go into it and I mentioned it earlier so I'm not going to repeat myself, but I do think Congressional Country Club really lends itself quite well to this idea of giving players options, introducing some risk‑reward, and I think the best examples of that are the three par‑5s we've got here, which in some ways play very, very differently from one another. If you take the sixth hole, which I mentioned already with the water, that water hazard really is the big feature on that hole. So the players, whether it's going for the green in two or laying up and playing a short approach in, obviously they're going to be trying to avoid the water hazard, but there's other features on that hole. For instance, when you're out there today, you can check behind the green. We shaved the green, which means that the player that's rifling a long second shot going for it needs to be mindful of, okay, if they clear the water in the front, they've got to worry about what's in the back too, now.
The ninth hole, when you get there, we put a new tee back some 35, 40 yards. It's now 636 yards. That is a true three‑shotter. Even the longest players, the Bubba Watsons, the Quiroses of the world, I doubt they're going to be getting there in two, and we really get some really firm fairways and helping wind. But on some days we will move tee markers up there, or maybe it's just one day, because there's a gully right in front of the green, that's going to be the most penal rough on the entire golf course. If you hit your ball down there, good luck. You may want to take an unplayable.
And then you get to the 16th hole, which is a par‑5, which I really think, along with the 18th hole, is going to really in a lot of ways define who's going to win this championship. It's going to be set up short enough so most players will have the opportunity to go for it in two, but when you get out there ‑‑ one of the things that was done just a few months ago, just this spring, is we stripped out all the rough, or the bluegrass sod, that's around this green, which this is a green that sits up in the air, and we replaced it with bentgrass, so it's closely mown. So what it ends up doing is you either hit the green or you're going to roll down a huge hill in the back and be left with a very difficult shot, or if you miss it to the left of the green, it may literally roll up against the boundary or go out of bounds, and if you miss it to the right of the green, you're going to roll down a hill underneath some pine trees. Now, we're going to give you a shot, but the point of it is it's going to be a risk‑reward hole that we really hope come the last couple days really ‑‑ you may see an eagle, you may see a birdie, but you also may see a player playing aggressively who does not execute make something worse than that.
And the last topic I'm going to mention before hopefully we turn this over to Graeme McDowell is what changes has the golf course seen since the 1997 U.S. Open or even in the case of the last AT&T that was played here in 2009, and really, I guess five different categories I mentioned, the putting greens were rebuilt. Folks, I think the important thing to note here is that these greens were not rebuilt for the U.S. Open. They were rebuilt because it now allows Congressional Country Club to get through these tough summers here, so it was really, I think, a very helpful thing for the months of July and August. But a byproduct is we absolutely have better greens for this ‑‑ next month we'll have better greens than we would have had.
Several years ago Rees Jones rerouted the golf course, and you'll recall in 1997 we finished on a par‑3 over the water. Well, that hole no longer exists now, and what you essentially do is that 18th hole was replaced with a par‑3 10th hole, where really now you play your way from 9 green over to what used to be the 10th hole, is now the 11th hole, which is great, because for a U.S. Open that was a five‑ to seven‑minute walk and now you play your way there.
But the great thing that that does is it allows us to finish in one of the great closing holes in golf. I was thinking this morning, what are the great U.S. Open finishing holes, and certainly you would include Pebble Beach's 18th hole. I would include Oakmont's 18th hole and Merion's 18th hole. But you have to include Congressional's 18th hole here. It is just superb. You think back to 1997 when Els won, I believe he was, at least of the leaders, the only player to par that hole, so some great things can happen there. It's obviously a tough hole.
The third thing that's different is we've added eight new teeing grounds. As I mentioned, in some cases that's just to get the drive zones where we want them to be, but in other cases it just gives us flexibility, and I already talked about that.
Another thing, a fourth thing you'll see, is that fairway contours were adjusted, and really with the idea that we're trying to get the drive zone hazards more into play. So where before you saw big patches of bluegrass rough between say a drive zone bunker and the fairway, you're seeing a fairway much closer to that. Or in the case of the 11th hole, in fact you can see it looking out here, we moved the fairway right up against the creek on the right. What's interesting architecturally about that is that the safe play is going up the left side of the fairway. But when you look at that fairway, it's got a pretty severe left‑to‑right slope, which makes the second shot much more difficult into that hole, and there's a pond right of the green. So ideally you want to get your drive as far right as you can to play away from the water up at the green but also play from a flattish lie. I think architecturally that just made sense. Right off the bat, it's risk‑reward on the tee. It's almost asking a player, do you want to take the gamble and get on that flat lie with a great angle or don't you.
And then the last change you'll notice is that with the drive-zone bunkers you'll see that where there is some bluegrass we have mown that down, or we will mow that down, to where balls will feed into bunkers. So if it's running through the fairway, instead of just getting caught in rough it's going to actually roll into a bunker now. And also you'll note at some of the green surrounds with the bunkers we've mown down some of those grass faces ‑‑ so where a ball would have normally just stuck in the side in high rough it's going to roll back down into bunkers. That's one of the things, when Rees redid the course years ago ‑‑ these are pretty deep bunkers here, and I think our idea is to try and get these bunkers more into play.
With that I'm going to close it up. I think Graeme is almost here, but I also want to pass along my thanks to Doug, to Ben, to Paul, and Mike Leemhuis, the general manager here, who's one of the best in the entire United States, and also, and I mention this every year, you hate to say who's the most important person for a U.S. Open beyond the players, but I'll tell you, the superintendent does more to make or break a U.S. Open than anybody, and Mike Giuffre, who's director of grounds here at Congressional, as well as Dave Hutchinson, who's the superintendent on the Blue Course, are just two great individuals. They're incredibly professional at what they do, but they're just great people, too.
And then also last but not least, I do want to recognize Rees Jones, who has worked with Congressional and worked with the USGA for a number of years now and has done some great work to really get this golf course to be a wonderful test. With that, I'm going to turn it over to Graeme right now.
Before I turn it over to Graeme, who just came off the golf course, in fact, right before we started this, somebody ‑‑ I guess you were out Tweeting on the golf course and mentioned that no one would break par. So anyone, we'll have to hear a little bit more about that.
GRAEME McDOWELL: That's probably up to you, to be fair.
MIKE DAVIS: Before I turn it over, I first got to know Graeme when he played on the Walker Cup team for Great Britain & Ireland in 2001, and I remember what an incredible gentleman he was back then, and I must say we could not be more proud to have him as our U.S. Open champion. He has been the last 11 months just a superb ambassador. As I mentioned before, he's the first European to win this in 40 years since Tony Jacklin back in 1970. So it was a very, very proud moment, and Graeme, you've been a great champion for us, and with that I'll turn it over to you and you can talk a little bit about Congressional and your 11 months as U.S. Open champion.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Thanks, Mike, for that. It's been a lot of fun. I can't believe it's actually six weeks until we come back here. It's probably been the fastest 10 months of my career, of my life. It's been busy, it's been fun, it's been tough at times, but it's been a great ride. To pick that trophy up at Pebble Beach last June was definitely one of the greatest moments of my life. I would take a major anywhere any time, but Pebble Beach on Father's Day with my dad there and one of the most legendary golf courses on the planet. U.S. Open is a special major.
It's an event that I always felt like when I was asked years ago which major I felt like I would win first, I probably would have said the British Open or the U.S. Open. I felt the British Open because of my links upbringing and the U.S. Open because I felt like it fit my style of game. I'm not a bomber, I'm a mid‑range guy, 285, 290. I guess that's mid‑range these days. I'm a guy who I feel like I've always had the mental toughness for a U.S. Open‑style setup.
So it was great for that dream to come true, and like I say, it's been a lot of fun. Being announced around the world as U.S. Open champion, it still gives me the goosebumps, still puts a smile on my face on the first tee on a Thursday morning anywhere on the planet. It's been great.
Obviously very excited to come here to Congressional. I got a chance to play the golf course this morning. Like I was Tweeting out there today, it's nearly 7,600 yards, if Mike wants to play it all the way back, which I hope he doesn't. It's a great golf course. Esthetically it's beautiful, real old school, great trees, great definition, really well bunkered, great greens, I mean, big, undulating. It's going to be a great test.
My first look at the golf course this morning, it was a bit cold and I was a bit tight and didn't quite warm up and the front beat me up. I played a little bit better on the back nine. It was a tough golf course that played every ounce of its yards this morning. We pretty much played it off the tips all morning, and I think ‑‑ I'm not sure if I played the wrong tee on 11, Mike. You'll have to tell me. I hit a really good drive and still had 240 to the pin. I couldn't get there with 3‑wood. I'm hoping I've got the wrong tee on 11.
Great golf course. I mean, just magnificent, some stunning golf holes out there. 18 is probably one of the toughest finishing holes in world golf, probably the toughest golf hole I've maybe ever played, 523 yards, a little downhill, but I hit a good drive today and still had 230 to the pin. Just a great golf course, and I mean, I'm excited to come back here in six weeks' time, whatever it is.
It's exciting to defend any title, but a major championship is extra special, and I realize when that gun goes off the first tee on Thursday morning, it's not my title anymore, and I'll certainly be trying to come back here with my game in shape and ready to try and mount a good weekend to try and retain my title. It's going to be very difficult. It's a difficult golf course, and to be honest there's a lot of great players in the world right now, so I'm hoping to be in the mix, of course.
Tough to say at this point if the golf course suits my game. I mean, like I say, it was long this morning. I'm hoping it's going to firm up a little bit. Right now of course the U.S. Open is always a premium on accuracy, but out there this morning there was certainly a premium on distance, as well. I know it's been a wet spring here in Washington, and obviously hoping the place starts to dry out a little bit. I'm excited to come back here and see the golf course. I'm probably going to fly in the Sunday before the tournament and play a couple of solid practice rounds.
Excited about it, and just want to say a big thank‑you to the USGA for having me up here today, and it's been an honor to represent them as the U.S. Open champion for the last year, and looking forward to coming back here in six weeks' time and defend.
Q. Would you talk a little bit more about how your life changed on Father's Day last year?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, they always say it's a life‑changing experience. I certainly sit here and hope I haven't changed as a person. The demands on my time, I suppose, is probably the biggest thing that's changed the most. I mean, corporately, yeah, my sponsors want all their days now for some reason. I can't understand why. The media want to talk to me all the time, as well. And we obviously have a lot of demands, a lot of requests coming in over the phone. I certainly know my management office back in Dublin, the phone is a little hotter these days.
It's been great. Obviously an overwhelming response from fans and players and just people all over the world. You certainly ‑‑ I get recognized in airports and coffee shops and just places all over the planet that I certainly would have been able to slip in under the radar back in the day. It's been fun. It's been certainly ‑‑ mentally it's taken a little bit of time to get my head around it all, really make sure that the priorities in my life remain the same. Obviously being a golfer and winning golf tournaments is still my number one priority and family and friends and enjoying my life and really making sure that I manage the demands of my time as well as I possibly can and get to the first tee on a Thursday ready to play every week. It's been a great experience, and like I say, life changing for all the right reasons as opposed to any negativity there. It's been great, and I wouldn't change it for the world. It's been a lot of fun.
Q. You're the first European to win in 40 years, and all four majors are held by non‑U.S. players. Do you see that as a coincidence or a trend, that U.S. players are not as competitive or that the world is that much better?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, I'm a big believer in sort of the way the game cycles. I think obviously European players right now are being compared to the sort of big five or six sort of in the '80s and '90s, all of the Ballesteros, Olazabals, Langers, Faldos, Woosies, Lyles, all these guys. We're being compared to that breed of players, and those guys won major championships, and we're starting to do the same now.
I feel pretty privileged to be part of a strong European contingent right now. We feel very fortunate. Obviously times have changed since the '80s and '90s. We now get so much more opportunity to play golf around the world, especially here in the States against the best players in the world with the WGCs and the three majors and all the exemptions and top 50 in the world exemptions. We really get much more opportunity to play in the best tournaments in the world than the guys did back in the day.
So I think as European Tour players, as international players, we travel all over the world, we become very used to traveling and jet lag and dealing with different conditions and different cultures, and I think it maybe makes us absolutely more rounded players. We can sort of deal with the elements maybe slightly better.
Here on the PGA Tour, I've been playing most of the season out here, and it's ‑‑ they certainly get blessed with some great conditions week in and week out. The golf courses are perfect, and the sun generally shines.
I think the 21st century golfer travels a lot more, especially the 21st century American player certainly travels a lot more than he did and gets a chance to sample the global nature of the game these days. Obviously the PGA Tour event they held in Malaysia for the first time last year I think is a sign of the times, and like I say, golf is very global.
I'm a big believer that, yeah, European golf is strong right now. I think you've only got to look at how many great players that are here in the States right now, to name but a few, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar, the list is endless, Bubba Watson winning there yesterday. He's been a guy who's impressed me a lot the past few years. I played with him at Bay Hill. He was unbelievably impressive. Plays a different game from the rest of us.
But like I say, I think Asia is looking strong, and I'm just a big believer in the cyclical nature of the game. I think Europe is strong right now, but watch this space; U.S., Asia, it's a very global game these days.
Q. Just following up on that, a number of top European players have been making a decision to play the European Tour and not the PGA Tour, but you made a different decision. Could you give us some of your thinking about that and how you think that's playing out so far for you?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah. You know, part of my motivating factor was I live in Orlando and am spending probably 75 percent of my time there these days. I'm a little bit more settled maybe in the States than a Rory McIlroy or a Lee Westwood or some of these guys that decided not to take their PGA Tour card. Let's be honest, the schedule, it's a long year these days. You can pretty much play every week anywhere in the world. It's a lot of demands on players' times, and everyone has their own schedule.
I wanted to play the PGA Tour this year to give the FedExCup Playoffs a go. I've never had the opportunity to play in those and I wanted to sample those and see what it was like. For me, I guess it's not a Ryder Cup year, so the emphasis is not on being in Europe and trying to make the Ryder Cup team, so I figured it was a great year for me to give it a go and just sample it, really.
How is going for me so far? The season got off to a decent start, happy with my game. I've been off the boil for a couple months. I haven't been very happy with my game, my long game especially, and I'm certainly experiencing a bit of the rougher side of the game at the minute. It was all going so ‑‑ it was all so easy there at the end of the last season, and the start of this year I was top 5 and top 10s for fun. The game can beat you up sometimes, and I'm certainly starting to appreciate the good times now. You've got to enjoy them, and I'm glad I did last year.
I am looking forward to the challenge of digging my way out of this again and getting back to playing well and getting back to contending in golf tournaments, and every now and again you need a bit of a kick in the butt in this game, and I feel like I've had that the last couple months. I'm excited and I'm ready to go again, so it's all good.
Q. You had not seen the course before this morning; is that right?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Correct.
Q. 11 you joked about. What do you think of that hole, though, as maybe one of the most difficult ones out there? What are the challenges and what would you expect with the fairway right up against the creek there?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I certainly felt like 11 was in the top three if not the toughest hole that I saw on the golf course today. I made a few of them look pretty tough on the front nine. But no, if I was playing well and on my game I think 11 was a challenge today. I played it right off the back tee. I'm not sure if that's the one, is it? You know, 11 is a great golf hole. I'm not sure what it is to the creek off the very back tee. I want to say probably around 280 to the start of the creek. So that starts to sort of cut into your tee shot up the right‑hand side. Obviously a premium on accuracy, leaving yourself an uphill second shot. Like I said, today it was playing long. It was cold and wet. Today I hit a decent drive and I had 240 pin up the hill. Water right of the green. Left is not very good because you're pitching down the hill. It's a very undulating green over the back. It's got a nice runoff area.
Yeah, I can't really see much positive to say about that golf hole. If they're selling four 4s that week I'll buy them for plenty. Just a great golf hole. Just a difficult, difficult golf hole. You know, it's strong.
It doesn't ‑‑ I'm not sure if it's designed as a par‑5. You know, I'm not a big fan generally of par‑5s that become par‑4s because I generally feel the greens don't suit the par‑4 challenge. But 11 to me kind of looks like a par‑4. It doesn't feel like a par‑5. It's going to be a hell of a task, though. It requires two great shots, and like I say, right is trouble and left is bad and long is not great, so it's a tough hole.
Q. Just to follow up on that, now that you've seen it, any equipment changes for you between now and then that you're thinking about, maybe I need to bring 20 clubs with me and make a pick given the yardage that Mike decides to play the course?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, the par‑3s, 10 is about 215, 220, maybe like a 3 hybrid type club. I typically carry a 3‑iron or a 3 hybrid just depending on course setup. I mean, typically with this type of rough, this kind of overseed, this rye or whatever it is, it's definitely sort of a hybrid type golf course I would imagine.
So yeah, it's very tough to tell this morning. Like I said, it's a little wetter than it will be, and it's tough to say at this point how the golf course is going to set up. I'm just trying to think of the par‑5s. Yeah, like I say, I'll probably carry 2 hybrid, 3 hybrid, pretty much my standard bag setup. I'm not really seeing any massive changes so far.
Q. Last year you proved you were not a one‑hit wonder with what you did at the Ryder Cup and beating Tiger head‑to‑head at his tournament. Did you ever dream you'd not only win a major but be world golfer of the year? Was that a realistic dream for you?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, I've never really been a guy who's dreamed unbelievably big. Of course I've always tried to get better and better at this game. I've always dreamed of being the best that I can be. I've never really set the parameters around that, I suppose. To have the kind of season I had last year was just amazing. It was dream stuff. To think that I could even remotely replicate that in 2011 was probably ‑‑ it was definitely a difficult task, and I've definitely tried to adjust my expectations this year accordingly.
To win the U.S. Open at Pebble and to follow it up ‑‑ to be lucky enough to be in the position at the Ryder Cup where my point ‑‑ to hole the winning putt as such, or conceded the winning putt, even better, and obviously to follow up winning at Valderrama and beating Tiger head-to-head at the weekend in his tournament over at Sherwood, it was just an amazing way to cap the year. Of course you win a major, you hope you can back it up. You always say you have nothing more to prove, but I think deep down we all feel like we need to prove ourselves and continue to prove ourselves in this game. I mean, you certainly, like you say, don't want to be a one‑hit wonder. It was an amazing season for me, and yeah, it was beyond all my wildest dreams. It was a couple of my very ultimate goals rolled into the space of five months with Pebble and then at the Ryder Cup. Those were two incredible moments.
Q. This would be for Mike and Graeme. The 18th hole is a classic and one I've watched since Ken Venturi won in '64, and it's stretched to 523 yards. Growing up that's a par‑5. Has equipment made it necessary for a hole to be that long for a finish? You said you would like to see the opportunity for some birdies, and maybe you won't play it at the tip, but has it become necessary to take a great classic hole and stretch it so far to make it to a point where it loses some of that classic nature?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, the mindset with the new teeing ground back there is that if you study that hole, you realize that if you drive your ball far enough down, the hill even becomes steeper, and I think what we were seeing during the AT&T when it got firm, you were watching players hit 9‑iron and wedge and 8‑iron into that, and we did not want to see that necessarily every day at an Open. So as I mentioned before with some of these back teeing grounds, they were put in to get the drive zones more into play. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we'll use that every day.
And I think that what we really like to see is that when it is firmer, the players are going to land, the ball is going to release, and hopefully you have mid irons into that. That's what they were hitting in 1964, and then with another tee back in 1997. So we just felt that that tee would give us the flexibility under certain weather conditions to really see players play mid, maybe even long irons, depending on how soft it is, and the player ‑‑ how long a respective player is.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Just to follow up on what Mike said there, I think it's pretty cool that ‑‑ when I think about the way golf courses have evolved, we talk about 11 at Augusta, Bobby Jones wanted that hole to be played with a 2‑iron or a 3‑iron in the players' hands, so they've adjusted that hole accordingly. Yeah, we go in there with a 3‑ or 4‑ or 5‑iron. I think having the teeing options, let's be honest, Augusta doesn't have a lot of teeing options; there's the back or there's the members' tee. But this course has a lot of teeing options. I think Mike Davis is probably renowned as the guy who can set up maybe the best golf course in the world at the minute. He's very smart, he understands the game, the modern game, and yeah, if it's playing into the wind and it's soft and wet, yeah, I imagine we'll be using that back tee.
So 18 is an incredibly difficult hole here, and I'm sure the guys have an idea in their head of what they'd like us to be hitting in there, and the golf course will be set up accordingly. It's a great hole. You know, I can't imagine many guys will be taking on those back pins.
Looking at the way the hole sets up today, it reminds me a lot of the way I play the 17th at St. Andrews. You're looking to try and get that ball onto the front portion of the green and take your two putts and get out of there. You don't want to go taking the back pins on. It's like a little ‑‑ I sort of try to bump a little 5‑iron, sort of pitch‑and‑run 5‑iron, just try and chase it on the front edge of the green and get out of there. So it's great. Like I said, this golf course has got tons of options and I'm sure Mike will be using those.
Q. Mike, to follow up on that a little bit, could you talk about the balance between adjusting a course to suit the modern-day game versus preserving the tradition of a storied place like Congressional and the Blue Course?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, when you set up a golf course, or at least when I do, generally speaking I'm not even thinking about a total yardage. I'm really looking at each hole for what it is, and you really start with the putting green and its complex and work backwards, and you say, well, is this a green that was designed to have a 3‑iron come into it or is it better with a pitching wedge or 9‑iron. Then you say, okay, depending on what your answer is there, what should the drive zone be, what did the architect ‑‑ what were the architect's desires in terms of the drive zone, and then you just work back from there, saying, well, is it a driver hole or is it something less than a driver, and if it's a driver then you kind of say, what's the range that the world's best players are hitting it, and then you set it up accordingly.
And then when you're going through that process, you just add up 18 different yardages and that's what your total yardage ends up being. Really, at least for me, I think I start with the green and kind of work backwards.
Q. Graeme, you get to see all the most beautiful golf courses in the world, and I guess you're spoiled in that respect, but seeing Congressional for the first time, what are your impressions of it, not hole by hole but as a place, as a scene for golf?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, like you say, I think that's probably the favorite part about my job is that we get to play the best golf courses on the planet, prepared the best possible way they can be prepared, so we're very fortunate from that point of view, coming to the great golf courses, especially a golf course like Congressional.
I certainly remember watching the '97 U.S. Open and all the drama that unfolded with Montgomerie and Lehman and eventually Ernie Els winning. It's great to come to those great dramatic venues. Obviously Congressional has a real old school feel to it, real traditional feel to it, obviously big, mature trees around the golf course. I mean, just visually I love the way the golf course sets up. It's a beautiful looking golf course, and you do really feel like you're playing a quality golf course as you walk around it.
You know, yeah, obviously there's been a huge amount of yardage added to this golf course over the years. It still manages to flow quite well from green to tee. I think some golf courses ‑‑ some of the U.S. Open setups, I don't know why Bethpage jumps into my brain, but you feel like you're walking halfway down the previous hole you just played to get to the next tee box. It doesn't feel good. It doesn't feel good as a golf course. I love when a golf course flows well. I like it when you can fall off a green and walk onto the next tee box. And this golf course manages to maintain that despite the yardage that's been added on. Yeah, there's a few areas where maybe you've got a little bit of a walk back, but generally it feels like it really fits the area in which it's built and manages to maintain a nice feel.
RAND JERRIS: We'd like to thank everyone up here on the dais and especially Graeme for making the effort and the time to join us today, and thanks to all of you for joining us, as well.