Is Shinnecock Hills unfair?

Is Shinnecock Hills unfair?
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After some extreme conditions and some even more extreme scoring, Neil Tappin asks is Shinnecock Hills unfair?

The main talking point so far at the 2018 US Open is the golf course. Scoring is high, even for a US Open and the set up of the golf course has led players and pundits to ask is Shinnecock Hills unfair?

Let's begin by saying that golf is not and never has been 'fair'. Sideways bounces, spike marks, divots and ricochets are just some of the ways in which the natural landscape creates a constant element of luck. Never has a round of golf been played when good and bad fortune haven't played their part.

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Having said that, Shinnecock Hills appears to have been taken to the extreme. In particular, the pin placements have received most of the criticism when people as is Shinnecock Hills unfair. Here are a selection of tweets explaining the issue:

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On numerous occasions, the USGA has placed pins on the edges of slopes and this has been regularly cited when people answer is Shinnecock Hills unfair. As a result there have been instances where truly great shots, that would have finished two feet past the pin, resulting in a certain birdie have run 30 yards off the green. The line between successful and failure is so close it's blurred.

Of course, it is the same for every player in the field and as such it is hard to describe those pin placements as unfair. However, if they persist and the greens become even harder and faster, the USGA are in danger of making the tournament somewhat laughable.

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The US Open is a unique test and it is interesting to see how the best players fair on an extremely tough golf course. However, golf does not need reinventing. Great shots can be made average by bad bounces but extreme pin placements are a man-made, artificial danger. It's golf, but not as we know it.

Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."


Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X