Five Questions with Pat Finlen
June 7, 2012
Pat Finlen, The Olympic Club’s director of golf course maintenance operations since 2002, has been extremely busy the past few months getting ready for the 2012 U.S. Open. However, that didn’t stop him from taking some time out of his busy schedule to speak with the NCGA about the Olympic Club hosting its fifth U.S. Open. –Spencer Sorensen
What’s your life been like over the past few months getting prepared for the U.S. Open?
It’s been a hectic time with preparations on the Lake Course for the Open, the infrastructure going in on the Ocean Course and the greens rebuilding project on the Ocean Course. Between the three different ongoing areas, we have been very busy.
How much have the fairways narrowed and rough grown for the Championship compared to member play?
The fairway widths we had for the 2007 U.S. Amateur are still in place. During the past two years additional changes have been made to many of the fairways. Most were narrowed, but some were actually moved five to seven yards right or left. Trying to move fairway mowing lines on both sides of a fairway have been challenging. Most fairways are between 18 and 30 yards wide.
What are your plans for the bunker the USGA added short of No. 17 green after the U.S. Open? Will you be keeping it?
When the USGA brought up the notion of the bunker, we presented it to our board of directors and our membership with the idea that it would be removed at some point in time after the Open. We will however keep the bunker, fairway widths and short grass areas through the fall so our members and their guests can experience the U.S. Open course. At that time the bunker will be removed unless there is a desire to keep it.
Last year you said that an adaptable player is best suited to win at the Olympic Club. What PGA Tour player do you think fits that role and why?
What I meant by that is someone who is a shot maker. My take would be there are many who can fit that role given a good day. The hard part is to do it all four days. Luke Donald is one who comes to mind due to his ability to adapt to many different weather and course conditions.
During the 100th California State Amateur you said that you thought the winning score for the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club would be in the 278 to 282 range. Now that we are just one week away from the U.S. Open (and not a year away), how do you feel about that prediction? Any changes you want to make?
I am sticking with that prediction. Numerous players who have been out have commented on the toughness of the course. I believe you will see the lower score if we have calm and foggy conditions, the higher scores if it is sunny, windy and a bit firmer.