SentryWorld offers flexibility as first-time Senior U.S. Open host
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT – Everything is taking shape as the calendar inches closer to the start of the 43rd U.S. Senior Open at SentryWorld when 156 of the best professional and amateur senior golfers will converge at the 200-acre property from Jun. 27-Jul. 2. USGA (United States Golf Association) officials are ramping up their preparations for tournament week.
The renovations that have taken place over the last couple of years are giving the USGA different angles on how to challenge the best senior golfers in the world.
One of the renovation projects in 2021 added eight back teeing grounds, allowing the course to play over 7,300 yards.
SentryWorld also reconfigured seven teeing grounds, giving more flexibility to tee placements.
Ben Kimball, the USGA’s senior director of championships, laid out what he has seen from the course over his time at the property.
Some of Kimball’s duties include working closely with the course superintendent to figure out how long the course plays, the green speeds and how the rough will be cut.
“I think there’s a great mix of long and short holes here. We intend to let the hard holes be hard and let the birdie opportunities be the birdie opportunities,” Kimball said. “We’ll vary some par three yardages. We may consider a driveable par four option somewhere on the back nine, depending on how scoring for the championship lays out initially.”
Another change to the golf course was the installation of SubAir systems in all 18 greens in 2020, helping to keep the greens firm and fast.
That improvement fits right into one of the USGA’s championship course setup philosophies.
“Firm and fast is part of what we do,” Kimball stated as he addressed reporters at media day on May 15. “It’s important to us. The players have to understand how to control their golf ball once it hits the ground.”
The goal of this championship is to test not only the player’s physical ability but their mental stamina as well.
With how long the course can play, Kimball can see the golf course fighting back.
“There are some teeth in this golf course, particularly right out of the gate when you think about how long one and two will play,” he explained.
SentryWorld General Manager Mike James also addressed reporters on May 15 about the excitement level and showing people from all over the country what central Wisconsin and SentryWorld have to offer.
Media members witnessed the course firsthand as they played all 18 holes off a turf mat for every shot.
Over 3,000 entries for tournament qualifying will drop down to the final 156 players that will have a chance at getting their name etched on the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy.