PINEHURST – Pinehurst No. 2 is ready for its double dip of U.S. opens.
In less than two months, it will host the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in consecutive weeks.
USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said Monday that he is expecting “a challenging test of golf, but ... a great test of golf” on the course designed by Donald Ross and recently restored to his specifications by Ben Crenshaw.
When the men tee it up June 12-15 and the women follow a week later, they’ll find wider fairways, no rough and only two cuts of grass – green and fairway. Ross’ famed turtleback greens remain largely unchanged.
Davis says the course is “going to give the best players in the world some shots that they simply haven’t had to make in past U.S. opens.”
The distances will be different but the intent is for the course to play the same way in both opens.
The course will play at 7,562 yards for the men and 6,649 for the women. In both weeks, par will be 70.
Ben Kimball, executive director of the U.S. Women’s Open, said the plan is to have the pins placed in roughly the same quadrants of the greens in each corresponding round of both tournaments.
“We want to give them the same look from Week 1 to Week 2,” Kimball said.
No. 2 has hosted U.S. opens in 1999 and 2005. The U.S. Women’s Open has been held at nearby Pine Needles three times since 1996 – but never at Ross’ signature course.
“Personally, I think this is the coolest thing ever,” said Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, the president of the LPGA player directors. She won the U.S. Women’s Amateur winner in 1989 when it was held at No. 2.
Crenshaw led a yearlong $2.5 million face-lift for the course, removing the rough and reverting its layout closer to Ross’ original design.
“This has always been a wonderful, iconic golf course,” Davis said. “But what it is right now, it is all those things plus more. It’s hard to believe you could make it better, but it’s made it better and it’s made it a good bit better.”
The U.S. Open has a reputation as “the hardest test in golf,” Davis said, but he called that a byproduct of the USGA’s setups because “we’re not that good to actually dial it in there.”
Shots that go into what would have been the rough might land in sandy hardpan, some wiregrass, or even on what he called “natural vegetation.”
“Will it be easier?” Davis asked. “Probably a little bit easier, but I suppose there’s an element of luck involved.”
Davis said the greens should be slightly less firm during the women’s open.
He said it’s too soon to say if in the future the USGA will try to pull off another doubleheader like this one.
“We really want to see how it goes,” he said.