The mandatory 10 year probationary period for Pinehurst #2 comes to an end this June when the U.S. Open returns to the site where Michael Campbell inflicted widespread sadness on the golf community at-large triumphed over Tiger Woods and the rest of the field at the 2005 U.S. Open. In order to rid the historic grounds of the stink that was left behind from this abomination, a restoration was required to wipe the memory of that disastrous weekend. Literally, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were hired to rework every single hole, as is highlighted pretty masterfully on the Pinehurst site.
The changes include:
Widen fairways- Fairways were widened by as much as 50%, offering more strategic options in playing holes from tee to green.
Removal of rough- All rough was eliminated, establishing two heights of grass: greens and everything else.
Reintroduction of natural areas- 26 acres of turf were removed, restoring natural areas of sand, wire grass, pine straw and a variety of native grasses.
Overseeding- Eliminated during the winter months, allowing for firm, fast conditions throughout the year
Increased length- Thirteen new tees were added to the championship course, increasing the total championship length by more than 300 yards, to 7,565 from 7,214.
Bunker modifications- Several bunkers were restored, eliminated or reshaped based on aerial images of the course from the 1940s, and bunkers were edged to create rustic appearance
Greens- Only two (15 and 17) were modified slightly to increase hole locations. Changes weren’t necessary, they were already legendary.
The elimination of rough, and the way the fairways flow into the “natural habitat” areas reminds me of the way Alister Mackenzie designed fairways and greens to flow naturally into bunkers, particularly Royal Melbourne. This is the first hole:
Pinehurst #2 – First Hole
Royal Melbourne (Composite Course) – Fifth Hole
The Coore & Crenshaw team has earned some of the highest accolades in the design realm – Bandon, Friar’s Head, Sand Hills, Streamsong are among the best and boldest designs of the last decade or so, but the Pinehurst #2 redesign signifies a bold (and natural) progression as this pair essentially took their shit next-level. Pinehurst is an undisputed national treasure. Hell the place glossed itself the “Home of American Golf.” The history, prestige, and upcoming tourney slate at #2 mean the stakes really couldn’t be higher. Coore & Crenshaw knew they couldn’t afford to mess this up, and what made it more difficult was the fact that this was a restoration of history more than a true design or redesign.
While the diehards all dream about a Bandon trip or somehow getting on at Sand Hills, the masses aren’t really privy to the aesthetics and philosophies in play here. Seeing the US Open (and the US Women’s Open) played here could change the way the masses think of what a golf course should look like, and more important, what they want their golf courses to look like (and wait until Chambers Bay next year). In thirty years, we’ll likely look back on this restoration as a seminal moment in the arc of golf design. Hopefully we’ll see people trying to copycat the philosophies in play here, creating a veritable chain reaction: at once breathing life into the game by making similar designs accessible, placing downward pressure on the cost of a round of golf, and maybe even forcing a new premium on creativity and shotmaking (we can dream). Let’s be clear: this is a bonafide golf design YOTTO.
We’ll dive in a lot deeper into the U.S. Open obviously when the time comes, but for now, take a look at the hole by hole breakdown. It’s hard not to get excited for what really looks to a be a “different” U.S. Open at a historic track, redefined: For more click here.