HE HAS heard people saying it’s “dire”, but the man inducted into the Fraternity of Dyers in Linlithgow yesterday is heading to Chambers Bay for this week’s US Open with an open mind.
“You know what it’s like,” said Stephen Gallacher, who is flying the Saltire along with Marc Warren, Colin Montgomerie and amateur Bradley Neil, in the season’s second major starting in Washington on Thursday.
‘The USGA like to spice it up. It’s a good thing’
“Someone goes and then comes back and tells folk about it, then it becomes a bit like Chinese whispers.”
From looking at photographs, Gallacher, who is making his fourth US Open appearance, reckons the Robert Trent Jones Jnr-designed layout is similar to one of the courses used for the Dunhill Links Championship.
“Visually it looks pleasing on the eye, rather than tree-lined and big heavy rough. It looks like Kingsbarns a bit,” added the 40-year-old. “We are used to looking at bunkers and wispy rough. This place looks like all that you see is just golf holes. The USGA like to spice it up. It’s a good thing.”
Unlike the majority of US Open venues, this one has already produced a Scottish success. Grant Forrest, who also hails from Bathgate but is now based in North Berwick, won a college event there last April, helped by opening rounds of 63 and 65 on a course that, admittedly, was a lot softer than the one we can expect this week. “It’s a cracking course in a great setting,” said Forrest, who has just finished his four-year stint at the University of San Diego and will be spearheading the Scottish challenge in this week’s Amateur Championship at Carnoustie.
“It’s a links course, but it is on the site of an old quarry. It’s not your typical US Open course. But they can still make it seriously tough with the greens, especially if it is very firm.”
While modern-day golfers are often accused of being robotic, Gallacher is excited about the prospect of hole yardages altering dramatically from day to day in this particular event. “You hear that they will change the par around,” he said. “One day a hole could be a par-4, the next a par-5. There are par-3s that are 220 yards with 20 yards downhill; the next day it’s 150 yards with six yards uphill.
“That’s brilliant. It’s just variability to keep you on your toes. They try to do that to entice you to go for it, to takes shots on. It’s a new place, a new adventure. You have to go with the mindset that it will be tough and take on the challenge and enjoy it and try and get your game plan right. Come Sunday hopefully you are in there.”
Proud of his Lothians roots, Gallacher delayed his journey across the Atlantic by a day for his induction into the aforementioned Fraternity of Dyers in Linlithgow. “It’s normally guys who had businesses and were farmers and such but because I played in the Ryder Cup I was asked to join,” he said. “It’s a lovely honour.”