The U.S. Open 2014 Championships at Pinehurst Resort & County Club in the Village of Pinehurst Village, an area known as the Sandhills to locals and on a course once called “The Deuce” will hold unique moments — firsts.
- 114th U.S. Open June 12-15, 2014
- 69th U.S. Women’s Open June 19-22, 2014
The Pinehurst Resort complex has nine 18-hole golf courses. The addition of a ninth course happened recently when the resort purchased the National Golf Club Course, a Jack Nicklaus design that opened in 1989.
The most famous of the nine is Pinehurst No. 2, a Donald J. Ross design that opened in 1907. It has undergone changes over the years. The most recent one is the restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. What they did to No. 2 and how they went about what they did is a story in itself (see Golf Magazine’s June 2014 U.S. Preview Issue). To see a visual of the changes, click on this text link: Restoration by Coore & Crenshaw.
The “turtleback” greens are the hallmark of Pinehurst No. 2. Approach shots often roll off them like water off a duck’s back. Which is why chipping areas exist near them. Keep an eye on the 5th green because it has the severest crown of all the greens. It’s likely you will see the pin in and around the center of the green on all four days.
Ben Crenshaw, one of the best putters on the PGA Tour during his career, had this to say: “I can count on one hand the places in the world where two shots on and around the green mean more to a player than on Pinehurst No. 2.”
During the broadcast of the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Johnny Miller likened stopping a golf ball on those greens to hitting one on top of a Volkswagen Beetle.
♦ No rough! Coore & Crenshaw removed all of the rough on No. 2, roughly 35 acres of it. It will be the first time in U.S. Open history that the championships will be played on a course without rough. How will the commentators fill up airtime now? How will it affect the bomb-and-gouge player? In place of the rough will be hardpan, sandy scrub, pine straw, wire grass, “Lions! and tigers! and bears! Oh my!”
♦ Eleven-year-old Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, California, will become the youngest player ever to compete in the 69th U.S. Women’s Open.
♦ Winning is tough. With only 156 available spots in the field for men and only 156 for women, the percentage for male qualifiers is the lowest ever — 0.81 — because of the number of amateur and professional applicants. And making the two-day cut to be among the sixty to compete on Saturday and Sunday in either championship is even more daunting. By all accounts, the U.S. Open Championships are considered the toughest contests in golf. The win-odds for a pro are low; for an amateur they’re minuscule.
- Johnny Goodman was the last amateur to win the championship in 1932.
- Jack Nicklaus as an amateur finished runner-up at the U.S Open in 1960.
♦ Two U.S. Open Championships played back to back on the same course have never happened before. For those passionate about the game it will be Christmas in June. For those concerned about the revenue the events generate it should be a bonanza.
♦ Only one stroke apart now. The USGA lowered the applicant handicap index this year for women to 2.4 — only one stroke higher than for men. Many great women players have graced the field over the years but the number of them has increased. What Tiger Woods did to draw talented young athletics to the sport, Annika Sorenstam did for women’s golf.
In spite of all the firsts, rest assured tradition will not be forsaken. On Sunday, on the 18th green, the pin will be in the spot where the late Payne Stewart made his final putt to win the 1999 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2; the flag will read, “One Moment in Time”.
I sincerely believe this course to be the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.… It should call for long and accurate tee shots, accurate iron play, precise handling of the short game, and finally, consistent putting.— Donald J. Ross
Sources & Photo Credits:
Golf Magazine June 2014; The Golden Age of Pinehurst; Pinehurst Resort & Country Club Website; USGA Website; World Amateur Golf Ranking™