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Chris BaldwinThis Week at WorldGolf.com: June 13, 2007

U.S. Open finish will be worse than Sopranos finale thanks to the USGA

Still disgustedly disappointed over The Sopranos finale? Don't worry. This Sunday on national TV there will be an even less satisfying finish hoisted on the American public in prime time than David Chase's ambiguous go-to-black on Tony.

That's when some pro golfer who lucked out and didn't get bitten quite as much as the others by a ridiculous setup at Oakmont will hoist a trophy. This will most likely be some schlub who holds absolutely no chance of winning any other major besides the U.S. Open (see Goosen, Retief or the soon to be forgotten Ogilvy, Geoff).

The U.S. Open is a gimmicky tournament more dependent on chance than a laid-off refrigerator salesman "working" the poker tables in Reno. It's a showcase where the organizers are determined to be the show rather than ceding the spotlight to the best golfers in the world.

And the truly sad thing is this plague is spreading. The green-jacketed lords at Augusta National did their best to turn their course into a U.S. Open bore and sucked the roars right out of the tournament.

"It's turning into a game of cautious golf in the majors," Nick Faldo said.

Call it the epidemic of Insomnia Cure Golf. Just what this sports needs too: Another reason for the casual fan to find something more exciting on TV. It doesn't have to be this way, though.

Imagine a major championship where players fire at the pin, where if you're not five under while under the pressure of the final round, you have no chance. Picture one of golf's majors being decided by skill and guts, not by a bounce worse than the one suffered by Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos brought about by a sadistic greenskeepers ordered around by zealots in blue blazers.

I just watched one. A big bombing underachieving super talent led off a Hall of Famer with seven major championships with a 32 on the back nine. Of course, this was the LPGA Championship.

You have to go to women's golf now to find majors where excitement is given a fair chance.

"I found the course setup really interesting," said Faldo, at his first LPGA tournament ever. "They let the girls go for birdies."

What a novel, crazy concept.

As always, WorldGolf.com welcomes your comments.

Oakmont Country ClubPreviewing the 2007 U.S. Open
Championship at Oakmont C.C.

It's a safe bet USGA officials watched the slaughter at this year's Masters at Augusta National and mumbled sinisterly amongst each other, "We'll do much better than that." Of the four majors, the U.S. Open most consistently brings in the highest cards, regardless of venue. It seems each U.S. Open tries to outdo the previous in terms of difficulty, and this year's Open at Oakmont, outside of Pittsburgh, is no different.

Photo gallery: U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club

Irish Course - SandThe Irish course at Whistling Straits:
No majors, but elite golf for the rest of us

The Straits course at Herb Kohler's Whistling Straits golf club might have the PGA Championship/Ryder Cup pedigree and the best Lake Michigan views, but the sibling Irish course is still a Midwest must-play offering a serious Pete Dye test.

Blog: The Irish Course? It's just more fun

Orlando - Hawk's Landing Golf ClubHawk's Landing Golf Club in Orlando
a near-perfect resort golf course

Hawk's Landing is a Robert Cupp III design, and it is very nearly a perfect Orlando resort golf course, combining immaculate conditioning with a very friendly layout. Have a Mai-Tai for lunch, hack away in the afternoon.

Also: The best 'Orlando' courses are often just outside the city

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