Inverness Club is hosting its 100th birthday celebration beginning today, with 156 of its oldest friends and acquaintances invited.
Just how good a time the veteran players will have depends on the odd lucky bounce, some wickedly-placed bunkers, and the rub of the greens.
The party on Dorr Street, officially known as the U.S. Senior Open, will feature the best professional and amateur golfers in the world aged 50 and over.
More than 20,000 spectators each day, in addition to a national television audience, will be watching this field of active seniors try to tame famed Inverness, the site of seven previous major golf championships.
The tradition began with the 1920 U.S. Open. Four Opens, two PGA Championships, and one U.S. Amateur have been contested over the Dorr Street layout.
Two of the game's legends who competed here in the 1957 U.S. Open will go to the starting gate today, 46 years later. Jack Nicklaus leaves the No. 10 tee at 1:20 p.m.; Arnold Palmer, playing in a record 23rd Senior Open, starts at 9 a.m., also off the No. 10 tee.
Par has never been bettered over 72 holes in previous USGA competitions at Inverness, and early-week practice rounds under hot, unrelenting sunshine left many golfers feeling as if that streak may continue.
“If it doesn't rain, I'd say even-par will be a great score,” Fuzzy Zoeller said. “If it does rain, the players will have an advantage and they can stand there and fire at those little greens.” Scattered showers are forecast for this afternoon and evening.
The greens are Inverness' best defense against a parade of birdies and low scores.
“They are very fast and very undulating,” said defending champion Don Pooley, who won a year ago at Caves Valley near Baltimore. “They're kind of like Augusta National greens, only much smaller.”
Because of an injury to 1979 U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin, Craig Stadler is the only former Inverness champ in the field.
“I like my chances around here,” the 1973 U.S. Amateur champion said. “I have been driving the ball really well and the putter is starting to come around, so it's a good combination this week.”