George Graham

On This Blasted Heath


Watching the US Open preview on TV the other night, these lines from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” popped into my head:

Upon this blasted heath you stop our way with such prophetic greeting

Like the witches on that dreary piece of Scottish landscape, the golf gurus were foretelling the future. And as it did for Macbeth, inevitable tragedy looms for the US Open competitors.

Surveying the forbidding tract chosen as the stage for this year’s national golf championship, I was chilled by ominous visions.

The poor wretches trying to play golf on that tract will not be participating in a sport, they will be like pilgrims doing penance for their sins. Traversing Erin Hills will be grim work. There will be a lot more praying than playing in the process.

Hip-high fescue and rocky, bumpy terrain combine to assault the eye and quell the spirit.  Even watching the event on TV will be exhausting and dispiriting.

The USGA has a reputation for selecting unplayable courses for their big tournament – and setting them up to be even more difficult. But this time they’ve outdone themselves. Compared to this blasted heath, Chambers Bay was a walk in the park.

I am at a loss to explain why the USGA inflicts this annual torment on the world’s best golfers – and those of us who watch them.

I thought golf was supposed to be an enjoyable game, not an American Ninja test of endurance.

What’s worse is that success on this type of terrain depends more on luck than on skill.  It’s a crap shoot. An inch or two one way or another determines whether a ball bounces on the green next to the hole or dives into dense fescue never to be seen again.

Courses like this do nothing to make golf popular.  It’s no wonder the great, old game is losing fans.

US Open predictions

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for