Pinehurst continues prep for back-to-back US opens
PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Pinehurst is getting ready to make history next year with the first double-dip of U.S. opens.
USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said Friday the resort’s renowned No. 2 course will be set up roughly the same way for the men’s and women’s opens when they are held there on consecutive weeks in June 2014.
The course will be slightly longer for the men and the greens will be a touch softer a week later for the women.
Davis says No. 2 will play at roughly 7,500 yards for the men’s event and approximately 6,800 yards for the women. Par will be 70 for both. He says the greens will be roughly 11½ to 12 on the stimpmeter.
“Our goal really is to have the women hitting roughly the same kind of shot into the greens and roughly the same kind of shot off the tees,” Davis 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.
“For us, 2014 is really about the opportunity to make history,” said Reg Jones, managing director of the U.S. Open.
By next year, the USGA will have held 12 championships in 20 years in the North Carolina sandhills, with the most recent at No. 2 being the 2008 U.S. Amateur.
The course underwent a yearlong $2.5 million facelift three years ago, a project led by Ben Crenshaw that restored the layout closer to Ross’ original design.
Eight tees were added to the championship course, lengthening it by 271 yards to 7,485, and the fairways were widened by an average of 50 percent to give players more options.
“I think it’s fair to say they hit an absolute grand slam,” Davis said of the renovations.
The most noticeable tweak was the complete removal of the rough.
The U.S. Open has always been known for having challenging roughs, but this will be different. This course only has two cuts of grass — fairway and green — while the rough was replaced by areas of hardpan, sand, pine straw and wiregrass — all components of its original design.
“We’ve always had U.S. Open roughs with U.S. opens,” Davis said. “So in this case, you’re going to have a U.S. Open that, when you miss a fairway, you’re going to get all kinds of different lies.”
Davis said the USGA is taking a wait-and-see approach to next year’s doubleheader before it decides whether to contest both opens at the same site in the future.
“There has not been discussion in-house about, ‘Let’s name another back-to-back Open site,’” Davis said. “I really do think we want to see how this goes and take it from there. It could be a giant hit and we say, ‘This is great for the game.’
“There’s things that can go wrong on this, too,” he added. “I do think we’re very bullish on this. There’s a lot more upside to this than downside, but there certainly are risks and we knew going into it.”
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