Nothing personifies the meritocratic nature of competitive golf more acutely than the qualifying processes for the U.S. Open and the U.S. Senior Open.
For this year’s U.S. Open, for instance, local qualifying rounds have reduced 8,880 non-exempt entrants to 530 advancers. Those 1-out-of-every-17 players moved on to the “Longest Day in Golf” on June 6. There, the golf world will watch as two rounds of sectional qualifying are conducted at nine sites across the country to determine the final 80 or so coveted badges for the tournament proper at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., from June 16-19. An attempt to catch lightning in a bottle, some might say.
The U.S. Senior Open, open to golfers 50 and older, while comprised of 33 single 18-hole qualifiers across the country, is no less austere of a test. After factoring in fully exempt seniors this year (77), 2,924 players are competing for about 80 remaining spots. So imagine each of the 33 US Senior Open qualifiers as actually in a 37-for-1 playoff. Eight foursomes and one fivesome teeing off and playing hole by hole for one spot to earn the right to put the tee in the ground at Saucon Valley CC (Bethlehem, Pa.) on June 23.
Despite the difficulty of the qualifiers, recent results suggest that someone has forgotten to send the memo to three Spitz brothers originally from Norwell, Mass. — mid-amateurs Ben and David as well as teaching professional Brian.