PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Since taking over for Tom Meeks as the U.S. Golf Association’s top set-up man in 2006, Mike Davis has already left his mark on the U.S. Open. From graduated rough to drivable par 4s, the soft-spoken man has been largely applauded for fair setups and a cautious side that seems more willing to risk red numbers than red faces with a questionable setup.
Pebble Beach, however, could be his most demanding test. During a recent interview Davis pointed out that Pebble’s greens, smallest among all Grand Slam venues, tend to promote hole locations in the same areas.
“Nos. 8, 11, 13 and 14 all get set on a ridge,” Davis said. “At (No.) 14 all four locations go in the top left. It’s very different than at an Oakmont, where hole locations are so important.”
But with those limitations come inherent dangers. “Pebble has more potential for us to screw it up because of the wind potential,” Davis said.
Davis used the 1992 Open as the example of what could go wrong. After three days of calm conditions and a thick marine layer, like the one that greeted players on Monday, the clouds cleared and the field was greeted with gusting winds on Sunday that made many hole locations virtually unplayable. “The weatherman couldn’t have been more wrong,” Davis recalled.
“You can predict (the weather) better at a Winged Foot, (Davis) is smart to realize that,” said Davis Love III, who shot a closing 83 at the 1992 Open and tied for 60th. “Same with tees, it’s why some guys shoot 67 there one day and 76 the next day.”