Davis Addresses Concerns about USWO at Pinehurst
By Torleif Sorenson on 3/21/14
The United States Golf Association will do in June what they have never done before: Have a single site host the men's and women's U.S. Open Championships in consecutive weeks in June. The famous #2 Course at Pinehurst Resort will be the venue. USGA Executive Director Mike Davis spoke to LPGA players at this week's JTBC Founders Cup, at the invitation of LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan.

As Beth Ann Nichols of GolfWeek reports, the big question directed at Davis was: Why aren't the women playing first?

Davis' answer centered around agronomics. After the USGA consulted with several agronomists, they decided it would be easier to add moisture to the greens in the second week to soften them, since women tend to hit the ball lower and with less spin. (The USGA wants green speeds of 11.5 at Pinehurst.)

Two-time major champion Stacy Lewis was one of the skeptics; according to Nichols, she did not sound convinced that Davis' answers about leftover divots, chewed-up landing areas, and pock-marked greens would hold true:
"A lot of what he said was 'depending on the weather.' We need perfect weather for all of this to happen as it should."
Cristie Kerr, another two-time major champ, also voiced concerns, but with some restraint:
"I think they believe what they are telling us is true, but we were all just sitting there doing this [shaking our heads]. They are thinking the course will be in as good a shape the second week as it is the first. Mike Davis said if you think anything differently, you don’t really know agronomy. And we are like, 'Well, we've only been playing golf for 30 years.'

"They were here this week, so obviously they are concerned, but it is what it is. We all love the U.S. Open and we'll just have to make the most of it.

"Mike (Davis) said we've never really seen a divot determine the outcome of a tournament but you might this time.
Davis has clearly forgotten this ugly episode at the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic, when a shot by Payne Stewart landed in an existing divot that the USGA had filled with sand:

Stewart ended up losing the 1998 Open to Lee Janzen by one shot. And this is completely aside from the patently unfair hole location on the 18th green, which jerked around not only Stewart, but Kirk Triplett, Tom Lehman, and other players.

Juli Inkster, who was named captain of the 2015 United States Solheim Cup team earlier this week, tried to urge players to keep an open mind about Pinehurst:
"We just need to see how this will play out. There are a lot of if, ands or buts, whatever, but until you get out there and let it play out, you can speculate all you want. My philosophy is it does you no good to say, 'Why aren't we going first?' The bottom line is men sell tickets. They're going to go first. It could be really good for us, but you just got to let it play itself out."
The women obviously have no choice but to do so, but fourth-year LPGA player Ryann O'Toole might be the least convinced:
"I think what we wanted to hear was more of the truth, and I think what we heard was what we were supposed to hear.

"I think the biggest thing we will lose is the pristine conditions you get at a major championship. When you go to a U.S. Open, the course is groomed to perfection. It's the best course we play all year, but now we are going to be playing it the week after the men play it.

"You can't tell me it's going to look the same. It is not. We know what a U.S. Open course looks like after we're done with it. For them to say the course is going to be in great shape, and the greens are the only reason why the men are going first, makes no sense. It's just something we are going to have to see to believe.

"I'm not alone feeling that way. I would say 90 percent of the tour agrees with what I'm saying.

"The men would never stand for having the women go first, and then playing after us. Ultimately, we think that's the idea.

"At the end of the day, we're still all excited to play Pinehurst No. 2. It's a great golf course. It's one of my favorite courses.

"It could be a big plus playing it this way, or it could be a disaster."
For better or for worse, the playing conditions for the women June 19-22 could be the sole determining factor in whether or not the USGA ever again schedules the same venue to host the men's and women's U.S. Opens in consecutive weeks.

For the sake of better publicity for women's golf, this writer sincerely hopes that everything turns out well in the end.

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Image via United States Golf Association

[ comments ]
DougE says:
Can't write in this comments box without linking directly to USGA site. There is a glitch Torlief. As soon as you click the comments box to type, it takes you to USGA. Not sure how I got it to work, but when I try to click on a word to edit it, again, it takes me to the USGA site.
DougE says:
When I clicked on Post button it took me to the USGA site as well. Now, though, it seems to be working okay. That was weird.
jasonfish11 says:
I think unless it is a massive disaster it will be good for the womens game overall.

I think it will bring in more spectators to watch the womens US Open. I'm not sure why Mike Davis didn't say that because that is obviously the reason they are doing it. I think the players would have received it well if he just said "we did a lot of research and it appears feasable. We think this will bring extra attention to the womens game. Is it possible we are wrong, yes, but the possible benefits make this worth trying."
joe jones says:
I think the only logical reason they are doing this is to spread some of the cost. Equipment and personel must travel to this site which is not a hub for any transportation.Bleachers, food service,local transportation, housing , volunteers ,course preparation and many other things can be amortized over a two week period. The site is marvelous and would be well attended if the tournaments were held at different times but I'm not convinced that having both championships one after the other is a good idea. I appreciate the concerns of th LPGA players but some of the other courses that they play can hardly compare to Pinehurst even if it's not in it's best condition.We used to play it in March or April and even when it was a bit patchy it was and is my favorite all time course. Put that course in heaven and if I qualify put me down for an early tee time every day.
bashworth says:
Why can't they have a local rule where divots from the week before are deemed GUR. Then again there will be new divots from the women too.
mmontisano says:
they have a valid concern regarding the divots. the ladies should have gone first because they like to pick the ball, not take huge, gaping swaths of dirt with a wedge like the men.

the LPGA would leave the course in much better condition than the men will for them.
bkuehn1952 says:
After all the crowds have viewed the Men's Open, who is going to want to trek back to NC and spend another week watching the Women's Open?
SpaceMaNy0 says:
Women and children first went down with the Titanic.
[ post comment ]
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