By Jason Bruno
By now it's common knowledge that Pinehurst No.2 will host both the Women's and
Men's U.S Open this summer, and although I think the USGA dropped the ball by
having the Women play the week after the Men (that's a discussion for another place
and time) - I think it's a brilliant idea to stage the two in consecutive weeks in the
town of Pinehurst. It's a unique place in America's golf history, and the village will
take great pride in being the first with such an honor.
Back in 2011 No.2 underwent an extensive restoration by Ben Crenshaw and Bill
Coore. The most dramatic part of the restoration was the removal of rough along
each fairway, allowing for the native sand to once again play a major role in the
course's ability to challenge players. Chopping out of thick cabbage (as is the case
with most Opens) won't be the case this year, green and lush is likely on its way
out-with water restrictions sure to become more strict in the future, edgy, firm/fast
conditions are becoming the new norm in course design & maintenance, and this Open
will showcase that. Next year at Chambers Bay in Tacoma, Washington will be the
uber links version of this new trend in course design. As a career Green Teamer
myself, I applaud the USGA and GCSAA for their efforts to educate golfers. These
next two U.S Opens won't be of the usual variety (neither was last year at Merion),
and it's a probably a step in the right direction. If you haven't been to Pinehurst
recently, then here's a glimpse of what you'll be viewing in June.
The Opening hole on No.2 is a 404 yard par 4, the back left pin location is sure to get
some play during both Opens.
Note the runoff on the 1st green, now imagine the pin is located front left . . . these
are the types of challenges that await the worlds best at the U.S Open.
Hole #2 - The native sand now lines each fairway, just as Ross originally designed
nearly a centry ago.
The approach at the third hole, pine straw will be an equally large obstacle as the
sand . . . there's no handbook on how to play the new No.2.
The fourth hole normally a par 5, will reverse roles with the fifth and be played as a
par 4. It plays downhill off the tee and has a much mellower green complex than the
fifth. Perhaps the most rolling part of the property at Pinehurst No.2, these two holes
will be pivotal during the championship.
Fairway view of the fifth, from here it looks fairly tame . . .
From here not so much, errant approach shots here will face a stiff test to get up
and down, there will be situations where it will take a Seve like shortgame to save
your round at this years Open.
behind the seventh green
The shortest hole on No.2 is the 190 yard par 3 - ninth . . . there is some serious left
to right tilt in this putting surface.
Stay left off the tee here on the newly renovated eleventh hole, wire grass dots the
sand scrub throughout No.2
Tough lies will be the norm during the 2014 U.S Open, this particular one was short of
the twelfth green
The short 385 yd par 4 - thirteenth
From the tee on the Par 4 - fourteenth - tee to green Ross' masterpiece is
straightforward, but the green complexes are as tricky as any in America.
The learning center sits in the background left of the 205 yd par 3 fifteenth
Fairway view of the 534 yard sixteenth
Bunkers and native sand scrub areas run into each other at No.2, and will be an issue
at this years Open. An official will be placed on each hole to make rulings if necessary in
regard to such areas (they have been advised to rule - hazard in the case a certain lie
can not be determined as definitive to either condition - therefore advising the player not
to ground their club)
*Payne Stewart made an unbelievable par putt here at the sixteenth during the 1999
U.S Open, this hole might again play a significant role in determining the champion.
The gorgeous 208 yd par 3 - seventeenth . . . short left looks like an acceptable
miss, but photos don't properly represent the slope that will funnel your ball away
from the green. Notice the massive native scrub area front right, the Coore/Crenshaw
course restoration and it's conditions will give NBC and it's announcers, (especially
Johnny Miller) "Carte Blanche" to have a field day announcing their last U.S Open (Fox
takes over in 2015).
The home hole at Pinehurst No.2, site of this year's Mens & Womens U.S Open
Pinehurst No.2 remembers the late Payne Stewart's triumph in 1999.
Pinehurst is more than just about No.2, there are eight courses that are part of
the Pinehurst Resort. It's about Donald Ross, it's about tradition, it's about the golf
community here and it's about preserving history. Walking through the clubhouse at
Pinehurst feels very similiar to how you feel when you walk through Golf House at the
USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J - the place just exudes "Americana". The town
and resort is a must see for any golfer, when you arrive you'll know why they call it
the home of American Golf.
Will Phil Mickelson reach Golf's pinnacle and win the career Grand Slam on the venue
where he and Payne Stewart waged their classic battle 15 years ago? Perhaps, but if
nothing else, Pinehurst No.2 is sure to provide the proper setting for the drama of the
2014 United States Open Championship.
To see more on Pinehurst Resort go to : http://www.pinehurst.com/