US Open 2012: Is the course too hard?

After Rory McIlroy romped to victory at Congressional last year, the USGA swore revenge. But is the Lake Course at San Francisco's Olympic Club an unfair challenge?

Olympic Club hole18
(Image credit: Getty Images)

At the 2011 US Open at Congressional, Rory McIlroy stormed to victory, smashing multiple records along the way.

The USGA were embarrassed someone was able to shoot 16-under-par in the event dubbed 'golf's toughest test,' and promised a much harder examination this year.

Mike Davies, the USGA's executive director, promised revenge at San Francisco's Olympic Club, claiming the first six holes would be "absolutely brutal" and "the toughest ever start to a US Open."

He wasn't wrong. In yesterday's first round, the fist six holes, cumulatively, played more than 250 over par, with many labelling the 670-yard par-5 16th hole unfair.

So, have the USGA taken it too far, and is the course simply too hard?

Granted, the aforementioned statistics would tend to support such a viewpoint, but I would argue against such a stance.

Whilst there were only six under-par scores, it proved that, if every facet of your game was working, good scores were attainable. It's hardly as if Justin Rose, for example, played out of his skin. He only hit six fairways and took 30 putts.

The rough, compared to other US Open courses, has to be considered fairly generous and, after the first six holes, there are genuine birdie and even eagle chances (the seventh and 17th).

No one is denying, however, that the course isn't a brute. Bubba Watson said he felt "beaten up" after his round, but this is the US Open, and that is the way it should feel.

It is a genuine test of golfing aptitude, and the majority of players welcome that. They recognise it is refreshing to play a course where par is an excellent score; a course that simply cannot be overpowered or bullied into submission.

Many players have spoken about the sheer difficulty of the course, but how many have complained it is too difficult? None.

It is a different experience for the professionals, and it is a different experience for television viewers. Most weeks produce a plethora of birdies and eagles, and winning totals well into double figures under-par. Par could easily win this week and, last night, Twitter was full of comments from golf fans saying how enjoyable it was to see top professionals grind.

Yes, it is isn't as fluid to watch, but the US Open takes place once a year, and it should present a different challenge.

If you win the US Open, no one can say you got lucky, or didn't deserve the title - the way a major should be. Who exactly is complaining the Lake Course is too tough? Not real golf fans, that's for sure.