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    At the U.S. Open, Public Courses Are Losing

    This year’s event is at Torrey Pines, which is owned by San Diego, but the U.S.G.A. may create a rotation that skips such courses.The United States Open is meant to be memorable, with the best players in the world gutting it out over four days packed with all the drama that makes sports great. But almost every year, the course on which the major is played becomes a character as the Open enfolds.The course may exceed expectations, in terms of toughness; it may seem to lie down for the best players. Or, as happened last year at Winged Foot Golf Club, where Bryson DeChambeau finished at minus-6 and was the only player under par, it might stymie all but the eventual winner.Torrey Pines Golf Course, set on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, may have provided the most memorable finish of any U.S. Open in 2008. Tiger Woods, playing on a badly injured knee that would need surgery soon after the tournament, curled in a birdie putt on the 18th green that sent him to an improbable 18-hole playoff against an even more improbable opponent: Rocco Mediate, a journeyman 13 years his senior.And then the next day, after battling back and forth, Woods birdied the 18th again to continue the playoff, which he won on the next hole.That the site of a memorable Open was also played on a municipal course operated by the city of San Diego is a boon for regular golfers who aspire to play where the pros do. But this year’s tournament may be the last for a truly public course.As the U.S. Open moves to more of a fixed rotation of courses — known as a rota — this week’s tournament could be the end of an era when the United States Golf Association experimented with hosting Opens on truly public courses.Pebble Beach Golf Links in California and Pinehurst in North Carolina are set to host several U.S. Opens in the coming years, but neither could be considered truly public because people pay thousands of dollar a night to stay in their lodges if they want to be able to pay hundreds of dollars to play the course. Of the next six courses that the U.S.G.A. has announced through 2027, none will be truly public.But in the past two decades, public courses have increased the excitement. When Bethpage Black, in Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., hosted the first U.S. Open played on a public course in 2002, it became known as the “people’s open,” with Woods as the only player to finish under par with raucous New York fans cheering him on.Jordan Spieth won the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay outside of Tacoma, Wash.Matt York/Associated PressChambers Bay, outside Tacoma, Wash., and Erin Hills, north of Milwaukee, were two other public courses that hosted the Open in 2015 and 2017, though both drew criticism. Chambers Bay, where Jordan Spieth won in 2015, was knocked for bumpy greens, while Erin Hills was dinged in 2017 for the low scores it produced. (Brooks Koepka was the winner at 16-under par.)The U.S.G.A. seems to be pulling back from this era of experimentation and creating a rota similar to what the R&A, which governs the sport worldwide except for the United States and Mexico, does with the courses for the British Open. The organization will lean on storied courses like Winged Foot, Oakmont, Pinehurst and Pebble Beach while adding other equally exclusive courses, including the Country Club in Boston or Los Angeles Country Club from time to time.John Bodenhamer, the association’s senior managing director of championships, said the shift was as much about history as practical matters.“In many ways returning to the same venues makes it easier,” Bodenhamer said. “We had the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010. It was coming back in 2019. Having the United States Amateur there in 2018, we learned a great deal that really fueled what we did at the U.S. Open the next year — from how the golf course performed to handling the accommodations.“Two to three years ago at a U.S.G.A. championship meeting, we were talking about where we should go for the U.S. Open and the United States Women’s Open, and I asked a group question about some various courses,” Bodenhamer said. The three-time major winner “Nick Price piped up and said it’s really important where a player wins his U.S. Open.”There are practical, financial reasons for returning to the same venues regularly, but the switch may come at another cost, to the public venues and the geographic diversity that brought the national championship to new markets.“The wonderful thing about the Open when it was rotating is you got to see so many different places,” said Michael Hurzdan, who designed Erin Hills. “Different horses for different courses. There’s a lot to be said for that. When you go to the rota, something’s going to be lost.”Brook Koepka won the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, north of Milwaukee.Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesBut he does not disagree with such practical considerations of the rota.“One of the biggest costs is infrastructure, so when you’re going to the same courses you know where the cameras are going to go, the stands are going to go — they have the parking figured out,” he said.But he is less convinced by the notion that the history of a venue matters, at least for the fans. “People aren’t going to make a comparison between how Hogan played Oakmont [in 1953] and how DeChambeau will play Oakmont” in 2025, he said. “I don’t see any good reason to do it.”The desire among former host sites to be a course that gets dusted off and selected again is strong.Matthew Gorelik, chief executive of Township Capital, who is a member at Oakland Hills, the Michigan course that has hosted six U.S. Opens, remembers hitting a shot in the fairway on the sixth hole only to have his next shot blocked by a tree. After that he supported a restoration of the course. The club hired Gil Hanse, a golf course architect who is often brought in to restore major championship courses, to update the course’s Donald Ross design and bring back a U.S. Open. The last one was in 1996.“Oakland Hills hasn’t been restored in a long time, and there were certain holes that just needed to be done,” he said. “At the same time, we’ve been passed over year after year for the U.S. Open.” The five or so courses that are seen as the core of any rota — Shinnecock Hills, Winged Foot, Oakmont, Pinehurst and Pebble Beach — are all stern tests of golf with ample facilities.“They’re all a great test of golf, and they all want to give back to the game, but familiarity does help us,” said Bodenhamer of the U.S.G.A.“It’s tough to conduct a U.S. Open at a place like Merion [near Philadelphia],” he continued. “We did it in 2013, but we had parking lots in people’s backyards, and hospitality tents in people’s front yards.” More

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    Mike Davis Reflects on Running the U.S.G.A.

    As chief executive of the United States Golf Association, he kept a close eye on the game he loves. Now he’s set to retire.The head of the United States Golf Association is among the most powerful figures in golf. Mike Davis’s retirement as the organization’s chief executive a week after this year’s United States Open — his 32nd — provides a moment to look back for the game of golf.Davis, who played college golf, has worked for golf’s governing body in America for nearly his entire career. He is proud of the organization’s accomplishments that go beyond golf championships, which include the U.S. Open and six other events.Davis, who became executive director in 2011 and chief executive in 2016, has thrown the organization’s influence behind programs that have expanded the game to children, including First Tee, and increased the participation of women in the sport, with Girls Golf.But Davis, 56, is also proud of what the U.S.G.A. has done for the maintenance of golf courses, like water conservation and grass research, all with an eye on the environmental impact and cost savings. As recognition, the organization’s Turfgrass Environmental Research Program is being renamed the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management.None of this would be possible if the U.S. Open were not a success. It brings in 75 percent of all the organization’s $200 million in annual revenue. And Davis has kept a keen eye on ensuring the financial stability of that major, starting when he was part of the U.S.G.A.’s decision in 1993 to bring all matters surrounding the U.S. Open in house.Davis, who plans to form the golf architecture firm Fazio & Davis Golf Design with the course designer Tom Fazio II, will be replaced by Mike Whan, commissioner of the L.P.G.A. Tour.The following interview has been edited and condensed.Mike Davis is stepping down as chief executive of the United States Golf Association a week after the United States Open.Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesWhat did you before joining the U.S.G.A. in 1990?I worked in Atlanta with a firm that did commercial real estate. Out of the blue one day I got a call from Mike Butz, who was then the No. 2 at the U.S.G.A., under David Fay. Mike and I had grown up in the same hometown in [Chambersburg] Pennsylvania, but I didn’t know him well. He said we have an opening at the U.S.G.A. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to do it. I remember driving up and seeing Golf House [U.S.G.A. headquarters]. It was an image ingrained in my mind since the 1970s. I took the job.What was your first job at the association?I got hired with a focus on championships. I was a kid in a candy store. It wasn’t just meeting people like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros. It was getting to see the country’s great courses. That was truly as meaningful to me as meeting some of the greats in the game. At the same time, I got involved in the Rules of Golf. When I got good with the governance, when I got good putting on events like the U.S. Open, when I got comfortable inside the ropes, that was a turning point. Still, if it’s the U.S. Open and a rules situation comes up, there’s pressure. In 1993, at Baltusrol, I got called in for a second opinion. The player in question was Ballesteros, one of my heroes. We were denying him relief. I upheld the ruling. You have those memories that involved great players and lots of pressure.You’re known for how you set up championship courses differently. What influenced you?I remember going to the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol with my dad. On that Friday, Keith Fergus hit his ball on the fifth hole just barely into the rough on the right side. I watched Fergus swing, and he moved his ball five feet. His fellow competitor had hit a horrible shot that was so far off line, out by the rope line where the grass was trampled down, that he had a better lie. He then knocked it 15 feet from the hole. I turned to my dad and said, I know golf is random, but that’s unfair. In my tenure we moved the rope lines out more. It wasn’t spectator friendly, but it kept the championship pure. Then we introduced graduated [lengths of] rough. It allowed the players to showcase their shotmaking skills. There had been this template for U.S. Open courses — narrow fairways, high rough and fast greens. We wanted to move teeing grounds around more and showcase the architecture. We wanted to penalize bad shots and reward good ones, but we also wanted to see players think more about the clubs they were using. It introduced a lot of course management.Mike Davis became the U.S.G.A.’s executive director in 2011 and chief executive in 2016.Jeremy M. Lange for The New York TimesThe U.S.G.A. has always attracted criticism. What criticism during your time was justified?No doubt, we made our fair share of mistakes. One of the biggest examples was what happened with Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 2016 [when he was assessed a one-shot penalty for his ball moving — seven holes after the infraction]. Then there’s criticism around governance. When we said we’re not going to allow anchoring of putters [steadying the handle against the stomach], people got angry. It’s the same thing with distance. If we think it’s in the best interest of the game, we’ll act. Governance isn’t easy. You have to think long term, and then you just take the punches.What did you like the most about your time leading the association?I liked setting up championships and governance. We were willing to take on some tough issues, and we weren’t always right.How did course design become your next career?Going back to my junior days, I’ve had this fascination with golf courses. One of the things I got to do with the U.S.G.A. is see most of the world’s great golf courses. This had been in the back of my mind. I don’t know if I’m going to be good at it, but I’m going to be passionate about it.Any chance you’ll enter a senior amateur tournament?I don’t think so. I was probably at my best as a junior golfer. College golf, I wasn’t quite as good. I won a few things nationally, but I didn’t qualify for any U.S.G.A. competitions. I’m still a 5 handicap. But there’s a huge difference between being a 5 handicap and a scratch golfer. I will start playing in club championships again, which I haven’t done in 25 years. More

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    Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau Are Still at It. But Is Their Spat for Real?

    The golfers continued their playful war of words at this week’s U.S. Open, insisting it is good for the sport. One wily pro suggested that it might mostly be good for Koepka and DeChambeau themselves.SAN DIEGO — The latest episode of the Brooks Koepka-Bryson DeChambeau feud did not stray from its amusing course on Tuesday, continuing to be golf’s most entertaining sideshow in years.Koepka, with his usual grumpiness, said of his relationship with DeChambeau: “We don’t like each other.” He added, “I don’t know if I’d call it a conflict,” then suggested that some of the reporters standing next to him probably did not like each other either.About an hour later, a cheerful, almost giddy, DeChambeau was all smiles talking about the topic of Koepka at Torrey Pines Golf Course, where the 2021 U.S. Open will begin Thursday. It was a stark contrast to two weeks ago when DeChambeau seemed perturbed with Koepka and somberly said the PGA Tour should consider whether Koepka’s snarky videos and tweets trolling DeChambeau were, “how a tour player should behave.”On Tuesday, DeChambeau instead called the public back-and-forth “fun” and “great for the game of golf.”“There’s a point where it’s great banter,” he said, with a joyful grin. “I personally love it.”So, nothing has changed. The quarrel between two, brawny, 20-something professional golfers paid to wear natty golf attire and perfectly buffed shoes continued without a script — a pillow fight that stands out in a world dominated by the use of courtly pleasantries.There was, however, one bona fide disappointment revealed Tuesday: This year’s U.S. Open, where DeChambeau is the defending champion, will not give golf fans what they wanted most, which was Koepka and DeChambeau going head-to-head in the same playing group in the first and second rounds on Thursday and Friday.The duo will instead tee off many hours apart with other playing companions, which means they might not even see each other at Torrey Pines unless they happen to card similar scores early and are paired in the final rounds on the weekend. Golf fans should pray for that outcome. Shortly after the tee times for the opening rounds were announced on Tuesday morning, a report surfaced that DeChambeau, or his representatives, had contacted the United States Golf Association, which conducts the event, and requested that Koepka not be part of DeChambeau’s group.Within an hour, representatives for DeChambeau and the U.S.G.A. denied that DeChambeau had made such an appeal, something DeChambeau later confirmed.Bryson DeChambeau hit from the green bunker on No. 18 during a U.S. Open practice round on Tuesday.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press“I would be OK with that,” he said of playing with Koepka, “but there was never really anything that went through me.”Koepka said no one approached him about playing with DeChambeau, nor did he care who his partners were. With a straight face, he then dropped this heavy thought: “I’m not concerned about what other people think. If I was concerned about what everybody else thought, I’d have been in a world of pain.”Whoa.On a lighter note, there was much discussion about whether the spat between Koepka and DeChambeau is good for golf. DeChambeau and Koepka, curiously with the same thought, insisted that it was, and Koepka offered evidence.“It’s bringing new eyeballs,” Koepka said. “It’s pretty much been on every news channel. Pretty much everything you look at online, it’s got this in the headline or it’s up there as a big news story. To me, that’s growing the game.“You’re putting it in front of eyeballs, you’re putting it in front of people who probably don’t normally look at golf, don’t play it, and it might get them involved.”Not long afterward, Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion who has one of the most sunny personalities in golf, agreed wholeheartedly, although he also dropped a bomb of a sort-of accusation.“I think they’ve got a rivalry now, and I think it’s good,” Simpson said. “There used to be more golf rivalries that became well-known.”Simpson then lobbed this notion: What if the whole so-called Koepka-DeChambeau grudge was a ruse, a conspiracy between the two to raise their social media profiles to improve their chances of getting some of the moolah in the PGA Tour’s new $40 million Player Impact Program?The initiative will pay end-of-season bonus money to 10 players based on an amalgam of metrics, with a top measure being a golfer’s Google search popularity.“I don’t know if they texted each other on the side and possibly went in agreement,” Simpson said, with a grin. “You know, let’s play this thing up for the Player Impact Program. That was kind of one of my thoughts.”Wow. No wonder DeChambeau was smiling Tuesday. We already know Koepka has the practiced poker face. More

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    Jon Rahm Returns to the PGA Tour, Ready for the U.S. Open

    The golfer, who was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament with a six-stroke lead after a positive coronavirus test, said Tuesday, “It happened, that’s life.”SAN DIEGO — Jon Rahm was thunderstruck by the positive coronavirus test result that forced his June 5 withdrawal from the Memorial Tournament, a competition Rahm led by an almost insurmountable six strokes with only one round remaining. But afterward, he recognized the emotions that his exit, which included a nationally televised broadcast of Rahm receiving the news and leaving the 18th green in tears, elicited.“I was aware of what was going on,” Rahm said in his first public remarks about the situation on Tuesday as he prepared for the 2021 U.S. Open, which begins Thursday at the Torrey Pines Golf Course. “And to all the people criticizing the PGA Tour, they shouldn’t. We are in a pandemic, and even though this virus has very different forms of attacking people, you never know what reaction you’re going to get. So the PGA Tour did what they had to do.”He added: “I’ve heard a lot of different theories — that I should have played alone. But I shouldn’t have, that’s nonsense. The rules are there, and it’s clear. I was fully aware when I was in tracing protocol that that was a possibility. I knew that could happen. I was hoping it wouldn’t, but I support what the PGA Tour did.”Speaking at a news conference, Rahm, 26, revealed that he had been vaccinated before he tested positive.“The truth is I was vaccinated, I just wasn’t out of that 14-day period,” Rahm said, referring to the two-week period it typically takes for the body to build a strong immune response to the virus after receiving the final dose of the vaccine. “I had started the process, and unfortunately, that’s how the timing ended up being.”Rahm continued, “Looking back on it, I guess I wish I would have done it earlier, but thinking on scheduling purposes and having the P.G.A. and defending the Memorial, to be honest, it wasn’t in my mind. If I had done it in a few days earlier, probably we wouldn’t be having these conversations right now.”The amiable Rahm, alternately smiling and serious, did not ask for sympathy, but he had a message for his professional golf colleagues, who a tour official said earlier this month had been vaccinated at a rate “north of 50 percent.”“We live in a free country, so do as you please,” Rahm said. “I can tell you from experience that if something happens, you’re going to have to live with the consequences golf wise.”Had Rahm been able to complete the final round of the Memorial, which he had won in 2020, he almost certainly would have been handed the winner’s check worth roughly $1.7 million. In Rahm’s absence, Patrick Cantlay claimed it instead.“I know if you’re younger, you run less of a risk of having big problems from Covid,” Rahm said. “But truthfully we don’t know the long-term effects of this virus, so I would encourage people to actually get it done.”Since some of the public outcry about what happened to Rahm centered around the way he was informed of his positive test — he was stopped as he came off the green with TV cameras close by and thousands of spectators watching — he was asked on Tuesday if he was upset by the way tour officials gave him the news.“It could have been handled better,” he conceded with a wide grin. “I’m not going to lie, that’s the second time I get put on the spot on national TV on the same golf course on the same hole.”At the 2020 Memorial, Rahm celebrated his victory on the 18th green of the Ohio course. Then, as he was conducting a television interview, he was informed that he had been penalized two strokes for causing his ball to move slightly near the 16th green. Rahm still won by three strokes.One of the mysteries of Rahm’s sorrowful scene alongside the 18th hole this year was when he said, “Not again,” after he received the news. It turns out that it was a reference to last year’s ending.“For all those people wondering when I said, ‘Not again,’ that’s exactly what I mean — not again,” Rahm said on Tuesday. “Last year I put my heart out talking about one of my family members passing, and I get told, ‘Well, go sign your scorecard with a penalty stroke — with no warning.’“Then this year I put arguably the best performance of my life, and I get told again on live TV, ‘Hey, you’re not playing tomorrow.’ So it could have been handled a little bit better, yeah, but it still doesn’t change the fact of what really happened. Because it was the second time I got put on the spot on the same course. I was a little bit more hurt, but yeah, again, it’s tough.”At the same time, Rahm admitted there were probably other considerations being weighed by PGA Tour leaders as they decided how and when to tell him of the positive coronavirus test.“They don’t want me to go by and start shaking all the patrons’ hands and high-fiving and all that, so I understand that as well,” Rahm said.One of the more popular men’s golfers — a player who shows his emotions and competes with zesty flair — Rahm was already looking ahead to this week’s competition. He said repeatedly that he had moved on from the withdrawal.“It happened, that’s life,” Rahm said. “Luckily, everybody in my family and myself are OK. Luckily, I didn’t really have any symptoms, and within what happened, this is the best-case scenario.” More

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    At the U.S. Women’s Open, Jessica and Nelly Korda’s First Rounds Diverge

    SAN FRANCISCO — Jessica and Nelly Korda often play practice rounds together but Thursday at the United States Women’s Open was the first time they had been in the same grouping for the first two rounds of a major tournament. The sisters and their parents were thrilled at the prospect of spending five-and-a-half hours together hiking the sloping labyrinth of a course that is the Olympic Club, the site of five U.S. men’s Opens, in the cool morning murk.It was one of those family gatherings that was a much better idea in theory than in practice.Starting on the ninth hole, Jessica, 28, birdied three of her first seven holes to share the early lead with Britain’s Mel Reid before the San Francisco Bay’s bedeviling winds upended her round.She carded a one-over-par 72, five strokes behind the pace-setting scores by Reid and Megha Ganne, a 17-year-old amateur from New Jersey, who were tied atop the field as other players were finishing their rounds. She spoke afterward as if she had survived a ride on a bucking bronco.Nelly Korda teeing off on the third hole.Michael Owens for The New York Times“I’m sore,” she said.Nelly, 22, the higher-ranked Korda and the top-ranked American at No. 4, seven spots better than her sister, opened with four pars. But three consecutive bogeys, starting at No. 13, were the start of her unraveling. She carded a seven-over-par 78 that was encapsulated by her troubles on her penultimate hole, the seventh.She had to hit her approach shot out of rough thicker than a camel’s eyelash while branches from a sapling fir tickled her face and neck. Her caddie, Jason McDede, asked the onlookers lining the right side of the hole several yards ahead of her to move back because, as he said, “We’re not sure where this is going.”Nelly, left, and Jessica talked while waiting to putt on the 11th.Michael Owens for The New York TimesThe crowd watching the shot after Jessica teed off on the 18th.Michael Owens for The New York TimesWith a compromised swing, Nelly was only able to advance the ball a few yards. Her next shot found a greenside bunker and she walked off the hole with her head down after a seven-shot triple bogey.After making a long putt to save par on her last hole, Nelly signed her scorecard and then left in a rush, stopping only to take selfies with a couple youngsters.“She’ll be fine,” said Jessica, whose heart ached as she watched her sister struggle. She did what she could to help. On the 12th and 14th holes, Jessica held up a hand to stop a man holding a fuzzy microphone who was walking into Nelly’s line of sight while she was standing over par putts.Jessica said: “Obviously I pay attention. It doesn’t matter who I play with, I don’t want anyone to play poorly. It’s tough to watch. You just know how it is. You’ve been in that position yourself. You don’t want anyone struggling with you or around you. So it’s never easy. At the same time, I have to play golf. You have to learn how to be slightly selfish.”Jessica, left, Nelly, and both their caddies sharing a laugh as they walked to their tee shots on the 11th hole.Michael Owens for The New York TimesThe sisters’ parents, Petr and Regina, carved out separate vantage points in the gallery, converging every so often to compare mental notes and commiserate. Pandemic-related restrictions limited the number of fans allowed on the course to less than 5,000. A few hundred of those followed the Kordas and the third player in their group, South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 champion, who posted a 74.Petr yelled encouragement, but as the round continued, his voice became harder to hear over the wind.“I think it’s kind of funny because I heard my dad, you can always hear my dad,” Jessica said. “He was telling Nelly, ‘Come on,’ and then like ‘Good birdie’ to me.”Jessica kept a few tees in her hair while playing.Michael Owens for The New York TimesThe sisters’ parents, Petr and Regina, looked on as Jessica putted.Michael Owens for The New York TimesShe added, “I think they’re just enjoying watching us out here and trying to strike the balance of being supportive and also uplifting.”The sisters’ parents made a beeline for the clubhouse as soon as the round was finished. Jessica and Nelly both have L.P.G.A. victories this year and they came into the week expecting to contend.“You try not to play yourself out of it,” Jessica said. “Obviously it was so frustrating, making some silly mistakes and then the wind switched and it got warmer so we were trying to figure out how everything was going.”She added: “I was throwing up grass and it was going one way and then another way so it was a little annoying. But you expect all of this at a U.S. Open.”Nelly reacted after hitting out of the sand bunker on the seventh hole, where she shot a triple bogey.Michael Owens for The New York Times More

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    Four Major Tournaments in Four Months Is a Lot of Important Golf

    Professional golfers worry about sustaining peak form, but say that scheduling four championships April through July is good for the game, and anyone who gets on a roll.KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — This is just the second time in the modern era of men’s professional golf that the sport’s four major championships will be contested in consecutive months, one each from April through July. The schedule was similar in 2019 when, after years of deliberation, the P.G.A. Championship opted to move to May, from its long standing date in mid-August.But the pandemic in 2020 forced three major championships, the P.G.A. Championship, the United States Open and the Masters, to be held from August to November. So, when this year’s P.G.A. Championship concludes Sunday at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, the world’s top men’s golfers will have played five majors in 10 months. Moreover, if the 2021 U.S. Open and this year’s British Open are held as expected in June and July, respectively, golf will have crammed seven majors into 12 months.If that weren’t enough, many of the best men’s players will also be competing in the Tokyo Olympics golf tournament from July 29 to Aug. 1.It is unlikely such a grueling schedule would occur again, at least intentionally, but it raises the question of whether golf’s best players can be expected to peak for the sport’s biggest championships repeatedly in a compressed time period. And moving forward, what are the challenges to staying mentally and physically prepared for golf’s new format of four majors in four months? For pro golfers, it is a little like the lengthy playoff runs in professional basketball, hockey, soccer and baseball.“It feels like every two or three weeks we’re at a venue where it’s super stressful because it’s a difficult golf course or a difficult event,” Kevin Kisner, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, said.Kisner added: “It feels like I’m constantly getting beat up out here with the big schedule. The hardest thing is every event feels big. I haven’t played well in any of them.”It has forced some players to make difficult choices, like skipping regular tour events that they used to play so they can rest for the condensed series of major tournaments. Justin Thomas, the world’s second ranked golfer, made such a decision last month when he took two weeks off after the Masters, even though not playing can diminish a golfer’s competitive edge.“I’m just not in the physical or mental state to be able to play a golf tournament after the grind of a pressure-filled event like the Masters,” Thomas said. “I need the time to relax and then get into it later where I feel like I’m peaking for this big stretch coming up.”While the new schedule has added to the strain of trying to claim what can be a career-defining major championship, most players believe it is worth it for two chief reasons: Golf no longer goes head-to-head with the N.F.L. in the fall, and players can take a break and put their clubs away earlier.Moving the P.G.A. Championship from August to May does both because it allows the PGA Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs to start, and end, sooner.“If you poll all the players, I would think they would be happy about the way it is now,” Jordan Spieth, a three-time major winner, said this week. “We can finish our season in August and not compete with football. And then create a little bit of an off-season for ourselves.”Playing the P.G.A. Championship in the spring rather than the summer also allows the event to be played in more parts of the United States. Scheduling the tournament in August meant that areas of the country that experience especially hot summer conditions, which are ruinous to greens, could not stage a P.G.A. Championship. That eliminated wide swaths of the country.“We think the cadence of the schedule is just better for fans — better for players,” said Seth Waugh, the chief executive of the P.G.A. of America, which conducts the P.G.A. Championship. “Obviously it’s exhausting for them to go April, May, June, July, and then if this year you’ve got an Olympics. It’s a long grind.”The P.G.A. of America represents more than 28,000 teaching and club golf professionals nationwide who serve the recreational golfing public. More golf majors early in the year theoretically enhances overall interest in the sport. Said Waugh: “Our chance to kind of light the fire for the game in May is pretty significant.”In the end, Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters winner, thinks that tour players will be better adjusted to the new schedule after having done it a second time in 2021. He pointed to Brooks Koepka, who won two U.S. Opens and two P.G.A. Championships in a 26-month span beginning in 2017, as inspiration for his colleagues.“I look at it as a huge opportunity,” Scott said of the condensed schedule. “And I think seeing what Brooks has done from the schedule of winning a couple in really quick succession, or four in quick time — that’s what is possible if you can get on a roll.” More