Goofygolf at the U.S. Open

Curley, Larry and Moe are alive and well, running the United States Goofygolf Association.

Good for Dustin Johnson to fight through all of his past demons, putting yips, a mid-round mindless penalty ruling by the USGA goonies and the usual tricked-up Open course. The goonies can now go back to their law offices and boardrooms, smug that they embarrassed all but four of the world’s greatest golfers.

Just four broke par at Oakmont Outdoor Horror Emporium this week.

The august USGA officials now have a full year to decide how to beat those four next year by placing snakes in the waist-high rough or barbed wire on greens they typically convert into linoleum. Jack Nicklaus noted Sunday that every time he goes to an Open venue, the greens are faster and faster.

Open greens are now renowned for warp speeds that drive even the most accomplished putters daffy. Chips and putts wander here and there like drunken sailors, rolling, rolling, rolling until they run away from the pin, off the back of the green into bunkers, or back off the front of greens into the fairway. Rumor has it a few wandering putts this year meandered off the course and didn’t stop rolling until they reached downtown Pittsburgh.

I’m sure most USGA officials are well-meaning gents who feel they are contributing their time and energies for the good of the game. What they should be doing is turning over the actual running of the Open tournament itself to the PGA Tour staff, who do that for a living year-round.

The blazered do-gooders could concentrate on marketing tickets, managing concession stands and getting their face time in the awards ceremonies afterward on the 18th linole– er, green. Johnson was charitable in the ceremony Sunday night, doling out thanks to the Oakmont maintenance staff, the fans and, finally, the USGA. Mention of the latter drew a robust round of boos from the fans.

USGA officials — mostly Northeast bigwigs — could also use some help selecting the venues. They tend to pick musty old Northeast courses at the end of 2-lane highways hardly conducive to housing or moving thousands of spectators in and out. Once every now and then they tear themselves away from the Northeast to pick a track out in flyover America, like last year’s Chambers Of Horrors Bay, a sparse and speckled Pacific meadow where each green seemed to have roughly three blades of grass.

Through it all, the USGA boys declare their noble goal is simply to identify the world’s greatest golfers. McIlroy and Fowler and Mickelson and Els had already established themselves in that strata, but Oakmont sent them home red-faced after 36 holes. The true goal seems to be turning a great American golf championship into a mockery.