For a certified golf tragic, few sounds are sweeter than the hollow thud of an approach shot landing on a firm green. It signifies a proper setup, a course that will separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Such conditions heighten the precision and thought required for success. They force players to select the right targets and take dead aim only when everything is working in their favor. Contours and subtle design features come alive. The difference between an approach shot struck in the center of the sweet spot and one a millimeter off the toe becomes immediately apparent. A wedge hit one groove too low leads to a 10-foot runout past the intended target, while a perfect one grabs and spins back.

The hollow thud is the sound of championship golf.

“That first bounce, Curtis, that sound… that’s something that should tell the players this course is going to play a lot different today.”
-Paul Azinger

Sadly, it’s rare for golf fans to hear that thud. Courses have to cultivate it carefully. Weather can kill it. So can cautious tournament committees, which often fold to fears of player backlash.

After two rounds of complaints from pundits that the USGA went soft, Saturday at the 2019 U.S. Open is treating golf fans to the hollow thud. With no rain in the forecast, expect these conditions to persist and intensify for an excellent weekend of championship golf at Pebble Beach. Cherish that thud, because we won’t get to hear it again in a professional event on American soil until next year.