So the US Open for golf starts at Olympic Club tomorrow. The last time it was played there was in 1998. Just as any return to any course, the USGA tweaked it a bit.
One big change is that the first hole, at 530 yards, will play as a par four, while the 17th hole, will play as a par five. Definitely seems strange.
In the long run, par on a hole is irrelevant. The players play 72 holes, count the strokes, and let the chips fall where they may. But TV and the spectator cannot operate that way. There has to be a means of comparing performances of players at different holes in a round. Hence the focus on under par, over par, etc.
THE US Open is supposed to be a challenge, and it wouldn’t look good if too many golfers did too well at any given time. By setting par of #1 at 4, it virtually guarantees that most golfers will start their rounds “over par”. By raising #17 to be a par 5, USGA has upped the number of birdies on the hole, increasing the probability of golfers making an apparent jump up the board as they finish their rounds.
Keep in mind: it really means nothing insofar as the end result is concerned. But, it means the world insofar as conversations about golf are concerned. No golfer talks about golf without talking about birdies, pars, bogies, two-putts, three-putts, chip-ins, etc. How boring it would be if we could only talk about our final score.