Does Pinehurst #2 Represent Golf's Future?
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/24/14

On Monday, the United States Golf Association held a media day at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, site of the men's and women's U.S. Open Championships in successive weeks in June. Among those present were USGA executive director Mike Davis (natch) and the two architects who presided over the restoration of Pinehurst #2, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

Over the winter of 2010-11, Coore and Crenshaw oversaw a restoration and "revitalization" of the #2 course at Pinehurst, which included the removal of almost 40 acres of lush, irrigated terrain. That accomplished two things:
  1. It brought the course closer to the original Donald Ross design, and

  2. it reduced water usage, which in turn reduces costs and associated maintenance.
Among those who support this change is Davis, the USGA executive director:
"At the USGA we would say the biggest threat, the biggest threat to the game long-term is water. Whether it's right now in certain parts of the country or a hundred years from now, water is going to be the thing that ultimately is going to affect the game the most.

"I think that this is a great, great story of what Pinehurst has done to say... we don't have to irrigate 150 acres anymore. We can cut that down. And this is a story, we can get drier, firmer fairways and we hope that this kind of shows the golf world that this can be done other places too."
Coore and Crenshaw clearly were appropriate choices for the Pinehurst restoration; they have a pronounced reputation as "retro-traditionalist" architects whose much-heralded design work includes Sand Hills in Nebraska, the Red Course at Streamsong in Florida, Colorado Golf Club outside Denver, and Lost Farm at Barnbougle Dunes in Australia.

Coore told reporters on Monday that while this is a definitely stylistic change, it is also a practical move:
"There is room in the world of golf for this. This may look like golf in the past, in terms of the presentation of the course, but in many so many ways, this is golf of the future.

"In today's world, with water issues, environmental impact issues, the costs associated... the majority (of courses) are going to have to go more in this direction."
Indeed, it would seem that the only courses able to spend tremendous amounts of money to maintain lush carpets of wall-to-wall green are places like Augusta National and the most exclusive private country clubs.

Even then, the impact is being felt there, too; last month, we told you about how the Jack Nicklaus-designed Legends Course at Diablo Grande Golf & Country Club is closing because the club simply cannot afford the massive costs of watering the course. (The overwhelming majority of Nicklaus courses in North America consume much more water than most other courses, a direct result of his designs, which call for large amounts of irrigated turf.)

The watchwords of golf design seem more and more to be echoing real life: Waste not, want not.


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[ comments ]
legitimatebeef says:
Word is bond. I don't see how water can't be an issue these days. We are already seeing the effects of drought on the cost and availability of food. Food goddammit. So if that is being compromised, then sure as hell golf courses should adapt. Anyways the natural look is a good one for golf courses. Golf in general could stand to be less and not more pretentious. As long as putting greens are lush and roll true that's all that really matters IMO.
4/24/14
 
joe jones says:
Pinehurst #2 is now and has always been my favorite golf course. If I had my choice of one course to play for the rest of my life it would be #2. I am a devoted fan of Donald Ross and have played many of his courses over the years.We would go to the Pinehurst area every other year and usually stay at Mid Pines. They had a reciprocal arrangement with Pine Needles across the road from Mid Pines and with Pinehurst.Ross was a master of disguise. He presented optical illusions that would befudle even the best golfers.His crowned green complexes can be very difficult and the run off areas offer options that the PGA usually doesn't see. Tight lies and small landing areas take the wedge out of the hands of anybody that is not very proficient with that club. You will see more putting and run up chipping from off the green on Pinehurst # 2 than just about any other course on the tour. The winner in this years open will be at the top of his game. I can't wait to watch this year.
4/24/14
 
joe jones says:
They have these loblolly pines along the fairways that have few low level branches so if you go in there you can take a full swing. The trouble is you are playing off of pine straw so precise ball striking is required. One year I had a friend that spent almost all day in the pines and usually would hit one or two before he got the ball back in play. I was on the other side of the fairway when I heard a woodpecker knocking on wood. I commented to my playing partner about the sound and he said "that's not a woodpecker, it's just Gary back in the woods again".He hit one huge tree so many times that week that thought he was trying to kill it.
4/24/14
 
slimpks1850 says:
joe, are you familiar with all the changes made? & do you think the course is better with the changes?
4/25/14
 
joe jones says:
To answer your question I really don't know. I only know that Crenshaw /Curley tried to bring it back as closely as they could to what Ross designed. If they come close it will be good enough for me. One thing I do know. The original greens ran about 6-8 on the stimpe meter in the old days. . If Davis has them running about 12 it will be almost impossible to keep a ball on the greens. If they are hard and fast the course can be unfair. I love to play bump and run. My wedge game is the worst part of my game.Pinehurst #2 lends itself to a very old style of golf. The Open tries to identify great players.I hope the course offers a true test. I know it will be difficult.
4/25/14
 
joe jones says:
I do know that for all intents and purposes there will be little or no rough. No matter. The pine straw will make up for that. If the course is running fast there are a number of dog legs in either direction where drives will run through the corner. Like Merion and Oak Hill last year Pinehurst # 2 is an oldy but goodie. For those that think they can bomb and gouge they may be in for a rude awakening.
4/25/14
 
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