On a clear day in September 2022, there was heavy morning frost on the ground at Los Angeles Country Club. LACC

As soon as Southern Californians begin their weather lament to visitors, glumly tossing out their phrases “May Grey” and “June Gloom,” it often elicits a smirk or roll of the eyes. Those kooky West Coasters — they don’t have real weather, so they have to make up reasons to be grumpy when they don’t need their umbrellas on the beach.

Know this, however: The colloquial terms exist because there are legitimate meteorological conditions that produce heavy marine layers that are common on Southern California’s coast in the early part of the summer. This year, the grey and the gloom have extended miles inland, and there have been full weeks in which even usually bright spots haven’t seen the sun for a week at a time. That’s bad for the vendors selling ice cream on the Venice boardwalk, and it absolutely hasn’t been great for growing Bermuda grass on a certain oasis on the edge of Beverly Hills that is set to host a big golf tournament next week.

In 2014, Los Angeles Country Club officially invited the USGA to stage the 123rd US Open on its North Course. The club and the USGA prepared for the competition for nine years with an understandable confidence that they could dial up the test just about any way they wanted. Since rain is nearly non-existent in the Southland in the summer, “firm and fast” has been USGA Chief Championships Officer John Bodenhamer’s mantra — the goal being to stay as true as possible to architect George C Thomas’ challenge to smartly play the North’s many angles.

To that end, the plan envisioned limiting the best players in the world from wantonly bombing their way around the course with the fear of wayward drives being met with playing out of Bermuda rough from tilted and awkward lies. The conditions figured to be a rare examination for US Open players, with the USGA not having devised a set-up with Bermuda grass since the 2005 championship at Pinehurst No. 2.

But Bermuda grass is called that for a reason. It flourishes in hot, humid conditions, and with LACC sitting only eight miles east of the Santa Monica Pier, it’s been shrouded in clouds for a couple of months. So, the USGA has legitimate concerns that the rough may not be as hearty and penal as it originally envisioned. Could it mean an onslaught of red numbers come tournament time?

“Certainly, the weather pattern through this year has been a bit different than what we kind of thought it would be,” the USGA’s Jeff Hall, who works in concert with Bodenhamer on US Open set-ups, said over the phone on the first weekend of June.

“Typically,” he added dryly, setting up his punchline, “if you invite the USGA, we’ll change your weather pattern.”

The par-4 17th at LACC is an example of generous fairway width, but presents plenty of trouble for any wayward tee shots. Brian Oar

Noting that he and his colleagues were heading out to LA from the East Coast in a matter of hours, Hall said, “It’s still a bit of a mystery. We’ll start to see how things are, but even having said that, we’re not playing at 9am on Monday. There’s still more time for Mother Nature to do her thing. At the end of the day, it’s an outdoor game; Mother Nature has a seat at the table. Everybody is doing the best they can. I can assure you that we have our goals; we believe we’ll achieve that with the rough. But if we don’t, it’s not because everybody hasn’t been trying to make it happen.”

Before getting to LACC, Hall said he was hearing and seeing promising reports from the club’s chief superintendent, Chris Wilson. The USGA was asking for the rough to be at least 3¼ inches in the build-up to the Open, and there was evidence that mowers were getting clippings at that height. The key, of course, will be how consistent the deeper stuff will be. It should be noted, too, that Bermuda doesn’t have to be five inches to be troublesome, because the thinness of its blades allows for balls to nestle deeper.

Kevin Kienast, the 20-year superintendent at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, on the North San Diego County coast, is heading into his first spring/summer with Bermuda after a full conversion last year. He also noted the whims of the weather, saying, “Your hands are tied” in terms of growth. “You can’t fertilise your way out of it. You have to wait until the Bermuda decides to grow, and that takes heat.”