Inside the Ropes: An Open rookie tells all
Playing in his first U.S. Open, Frank Bensel, the assistant professional at Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., was kind enough to chronicle the week's experiences for GOLF.com.
"Coming into this week, my game plan is to hit fairways and try to keep the ball below the hole. I've played in the Barclays Championship at Westchester when it was set up for the Open a few years ago, and that was hard. But this is on another level. Even from the fairway, it's hard to keep the ball under the hole.
A perfect example for me was the very first hole. I hit a good drive and had 206 to the hole and hit 6-iron over the green. I looked at my caddie Mike and we couldn't believe it. You have to run the ball in from the first fairway to have any chance to stop it short of the hole. Obviously the rough is on your mind. And it is very is tough in spots.
I really like the graduated rough setup. I don't hit the ball off line that far, and it's nice to know that I can advance the ball from the rough if I just miss the fairway. You can get a lot of club on the ball. I played in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and that was a brutal golf course, but it was somewhat new. So the rough hadn't really reached its full growth. There was fescue, but that was further off the fairway. I think that's a big difference between here and a PGA setup. They have to rely on length.
These older courses can still defend themselves if they have to. Which is why I'm going to rely on my experience of playing northeast golf. I worked at Winged Foot for years and learned to hit plenty of U.S. Open-type shots." - As told to Golf Magazine associate editor Tommy Dee
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