Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter is on site at the United States Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California.
The sixth stop on the PGA TOUR , the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was contested on the same golf course four months ago. After my first full day on site here are my Top 10 differences between the United States Golf Association's national championship and the last two PGA TOUR regular season events I attended here.
1. The magnitude of the tournament operations is a million times bigger for the U.S. Open. As it should be as most Americans rank it as the top major while the rest of the world points to the British Open as the premier competitive event in all of golf.
A whole new city, encompassing the transportation hub, a grand main entrance which includes the merchandise tent and Trophy Club and the television compound sets up on the hillside between the Lodge and practice range.
The television compound is by far the largest I have ever seen in my three years out on tour- production trucks, satellite trucks and office trailers one after another as far as the eye can see.
NBC Sports, The Golf Channel, ESPN… you name them and they are all here.
I think the media center alone could tent over the entire lodge at Pebble Beach.
The worldwide media presence here makes Tiger Woods' February 19th speech at the Clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass look like a little tea party amongst the neighborhood kids.
2. There are no celebrities inside the rope, only the golfers. I am sure they will likely show up outside the ropes especially this weekend or for sure in the corporate hospitality tents.
I did see Jerry West near the practice putting green and heard Arnold Palmer was out here yesterday.
So there is definitely a much more of serious "it's a major" versus "it's a pro-am party" tone.
3. This is not the same golf course!
Granted the routing and holes haven't changed in the last four months but the setup surely has!
I think there is one more skinny back tee for the converted par-4 second hole stretching it to 502 yards.
The new back tees present but not used at the AT&T Pro-Am will certainly be used at the 505 yard par-4 9th and the 495 yard par-4 10th holes.
Two of the three par-5s are definitely reachable- the 523-yard 6th and the 543-yard 18th .
The "niner" hole (at least for Bryce Molder and Paul Goydos) a.k.a. the par-5 14th is 580 yards with a green complex that is more than unfair it is unconscionable even for the pros.
The scenic short par-3 7th is only 109 yards long.
Bottom line- this par 71 golf course even when stretched out is barely over 7,000 yards, actually 7,040 to be exact.
But it will be played from the tips- a huge difference from the party time extravaganza in February.
4. This golf course does not look the same!
Only here at Pebble Beach in the 2010 U.S. Open can a golfer hit the fairway and be in a lateral water hazard.
The centerlines of several of the ocean front holes, namely 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10 have been shifted significantly towards the cliffs, beach and ocean.
On the sixth fairway the red line denoting the lateral water hazard is actually in the fairway cut.
5. Also the "native" grass, a.k.a. "hay" around the bunkers hasn't been cut since the playing of the last Pro-Am.
The waist high grass though light and wisplike can be discounted from impacting play thought he lower clumps which also have not been cut in four months could easily cost a player a stroke every time.
6. The weather is absolutely beautiful. It even feels cooler than it did in February. How could the sun not be hotter when it is higher in the sky?
Sadly though I liked the weather tormented 2008 AT&T Pro-Am where it was so stormy waves came crashing in and over the break wall on the 18th fairway.
With little or no precipitation in the paradisiacal weather forecast only tumultuous windy conditions will make the seas rise and break over the golf course in such an awe inspiring manner.
7. Pebble Beach is U.S. Open Heaven and is hosting for the fifth time.
Originally on a ten-year cycle with Jack Nicklaus winning in 1972, Tom Watson in 1982 and Tom Kite in 1992.
He cycle was changed in 2000 for good reason- the 100th rendition of the U.S. Open and why not hold it at the gem of the gems Pebble Beach?
And why not have Tiger Woods win it by 15 strokes so that the memorable occasion will be remembered?
One other major championship was held at Pebble Beach- the 1977 PGA Championship won by Lanny Wadkins.
Relative to the AT&T Pro-Am there is no mention of the recent Hall-of-Famer's only major victory.
The U.S.G.A. never references other majors.
The AT&T Pro-Am is a party.
Maybe not a difference but something I thought worth mentioning!
8. Tiger Woods, the No. 1 ranked player in the world is here. The field is strong, much stronger than the pro-am. Can Phil Mickelson win his first U.S. Open and become World No. 1?
Can Lee Westwood who won on a sponsor's nonexemption last week in Memphis win a major and loss the title of the nest golfer ever to have never won one?
Nonexemption- sure remember it took Westwood, a U.P.S. logoed man to make it an issue that he was not invited to play in the Fed Ex play box in a Quail Hollow interview before his invitation came to play in Memphis.
One has to go as deep as No. 11 Anthony Kim to see who is missing and he is missing due to surgery to repair his injured left thumb.
No. 34 Rickie Fowler is not here either having failed to make it through a qualifier.
The "Top 50" do get in but unfortunately Mr. Fowler was No. 54 when at the time of the May 24th deadline.
9. This is an "open" field whereas the pro-am is mostly well-known PGA TOUR players.
A quick rundown of the 156 man field revealed 39 names which I am not familiar with.
Truly this is an "open" championship whereas any of the 9,000+ entrants can qualify for the tournament proper and have a chance to win it.
At the AT&T the same was true for the amateurs and celebrities at least the part about winning the pro-am trophy.
10 The biggest difference between the June 2010 U.S. Open and the February AT&T National Pro-Am?
Tiger is back playing the game of golf.
Things are getting back to normal on the PGA TOUR- no more elite tickets for the Tiger media interviews; mere mortals like yours truly can attend once again.
When asked by a reporter for a status of his and Elin's relationship Tiger quickly, curtly and rightly responded "none of your business."
I never bought a ticket to hear Tiger each me how to be the best husband in the world- did you?
With The Masters (T4), Quail Hollow (CUT), The PLAYERS (W/D) and The Memorial (T19) behind him Tiger is just now coming into his midseason form.
The neck injury is okay or at least he can recover after each day so we likely have a focused, prepared and healthy Tiger Woods.
His U.S. Open victory in 2000 at Pebble Beach was the sign of the decade to come where he won 12 more majors for his current total of 14.
Now it is technically a new decade- the 2010s and I suspect it will be no different than the last.
Tiger to win his 15th major this week at Pebble Beach…
And his 16th in a month at The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland…
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.