What’s Hot and What’s Not: The U.S. Open

Welcome all! This is the first of a weekly blog post where I, your humble golf pro, will discuss what is hot, what is not, and what I think needs to be discussed in the world of golf. I hope that you will find this blog series interesting, and my goal is to provide you with information and opinion that will excite you to how special the game of golf really is.

As some of our membership may know, yesterday I competed in local qualifying for the U.S. Open. It is an event that I have participated in for many years now, and while it is only one day, it is one of the coolest and most special events of the year.

First off, let me give you a run-down of how qualifying works. There are two stages of qualifying for the U.S. Open, local and sectional. 90% of the 9,485 golfers across the US, oh and don’t forget the UK and Canada, that signed up will have to start at local qualifying. Local qualifying is an 18-hole event where a certain percentage of the dreamy-eyed golfers playing at that site move on to sectionals. For example, at my site we had 45 golfers where the top 3 players moved on to sectionals. If you’re one of the lucky bastards that advance through locals you then move on to sectional qualifying, where there are 10 sites across the country. Sectionals is still one-day and 36-holes, dubbed the “longest day in golf” because every golfer there is sweating so many bullets they have to triple check their alignment on every 2 foot putt. The format is the same, a certain percentage of the entries and that site move on, only this time your moving on to THE U.S. Open. Which this year is at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

This is why the U.S. Open is great: Anyone with a dream can compete in qualifying and, theoretically, win it. All you’ve got to do is shoot the scores. It’s meritocracy in action. All this is assuming you are a professional golfer or an amateur that boasts a handicap of 1.4 or less, but in today’s world becoming a professional golfer is as easy as clicking the button on the online application for the event (que the dude that shot an impressive 127 at local qualifying just a week ago.)

If you’re lucky enough to make it to sectionals you could find yourself paired with some familiar faces, specifically guys like Luke Donald, Gary Woodland, Camillo Villegas, Aaron Baddeley, Jamie Lovemark, and Bryson DeChambeu. All PGA Tour players who failed to earn exception into the Open through the PGA Tour and now have to qualify just like the rest of us mere mortals. A good friend of mine qualified for sectionals two years ago and was paired with Hudson Swafford, PGA Tour player who recently won at this year’s PGA Tour CareerBuilder’s Challenge.

The U.S. Open is our national championship. And that is what keeps the mystique of the event alive. YOU can make it, YOU can play in it. YOU, the college golfer trying to fulfill the dream of playing for a living, YOU, the weekend warrior with the 9-5 job. And yes, YOU, the 24-year-old local course pro from Madison, South Dakota. All you have to do is shoot the scores.


Drew Trautman

General Manager / Head Golf Professional

Madison Golf and Country Club