May 04, 2015 | 06:41 am

An Artful Open

When the U.S. Open tees off at Chambers Bay outside Seattle in mid-June, it will be the first time our national championship has come to the Pacific Northwest. But it will be the eighth consecutive year that artist Lee Wybranski has painted the tournament's official poster. And even though Wybranski—who has created every official Open poster since Torrey Pines in 2008, plus posters for British Opens, PGA Championships, and many other events—comes from Philadelphia and now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, he says he has a special affinity for links golf and the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course. “I love links golf. Not only for playing and looking at the course, but to me golf by the water on sandy turf is where the game makes the most sense.” The site gave him a lot to work with: “The water, the numerous bunkers on the course, and the lone fir that sits behind the 15th green were my bare minimums to include. Plus, I love diagonal compositions, because they provide a great deal of depth and drama and really pull your eyes in.” Wybranski will be on-site during the Open signing copies of the 24x36-inch poster in the main merchandise tent. If you can’t get there but still want an autographed copy, it is available for $36 from the USGA Shop or through Lee's website, where you also can find his other tournament artwork from over the years.

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May 01, 2015 | 02:54 pm

Olympian Feat

The WGC-Match Play isn't the only game in town. There's another important match-play event taking place this weekend in San Francisco right across Lake Merced: the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, the first new USGA event in 28 years (the Women's Four-Ball takes place May 9–13 at Bandon Dunes Resort's Pacific Dunes course). There were 2,234 team entries for the 128 team spots (to enter, men needed a Handicap Index at 5.4 or below). After 36-holes of better-ball stroke-play qualifying this weekend, matches will begin on Monday for the low 32 teams. One of the most unusual qualifynig stories goes to 18-year-old Brent Grant who had to play by himself at Honolulu CC after his 47-year-old partner, Bill Walbert, got called into surgery. Grant shot 63 on his own ball to advance to the finals with Walbert. The oldest competitors are 59, while the youngest is 15 with the average age being 34.76. In the first telecast of the USGA's 12-year, $1.1 billion contract with Fox Sports, Fox Sports 1 will televise the semifinals and finals of both the men's and women's championships.

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Apr 30, 2015 | 11:35 am

Judging Chambers

Golf course architects love to get in the heads of players and judging by the comments of some tour players who've made U.S. Open scouting trips to Chambers Bay, Robert Trent Jones II has succeeded mightily. Ryan Palmer told USA Today that the massive greens aren't championship caliber because they'll bring plenty of luck into play. "Put a quarter in the machine and go for a ride," he said, while Ian Poulter tweeted on Tuesday that some players were calling it a "farce," given that many of the tee boxes present uneven lies (Jones designed it that way so players could use the slope to help shape the shot). The Buzz reached out to Jones for his reaction. "I believe that pros who see the golf course as a beautiful fast-running puzzle, a field of unlimited opportunity rather than a layout that asks them all to hit the same shots, will embrace the course and do well," he says. "Those who wish to hit every shot long and straight and high in the most direct line to the pin may come away frustrated. After all the U.S. Open Championship is the sternest test of a player's mettle. The course provides great flexibility, and we look forward to the USGA's set up. Perhaps the real winners will be golf fans worldwide who will get to watch the greatest players in the world stepping outside their comfort zones and having to envision their shots, and make them up as they go, before they swing the club."

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Apr 29, 2015 | 09:13 am

Speed It Up!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but a new survey conducted by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews says a round of golf takes too long. More than 56,000 golfers from 122 countries responded, and while 70% said the time it takes to play 18 holes is generally okay, 60% said it would be better if their rounds were quicker. But that was for the entire survey population. When numbers for those who were unhappy with pace of play and ages 25-44 were pulled out, time became a much greater issue, with 21% saying the only way they’d get out on the course more often is if they could play in 90 minutes or less. In that same age group, nearly a fifth said playing 9 holes was a good idea for them. And what were the two major factors keeping people from playing? Again, not much surprise, with work at 34%, and family at 29%. The R&A will continue to study pace of play and said it will hold a forum later this year on the subject.

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