Monday, June 15, 2009

Pinehurst is perfect for a doubleheader

One of the surprising things about the announcement that Pinehurst will host both the men's and women's U.S. Opens in 201 4 is that it hasn't happened -- there or someplac else -- before.

From a variety of angles, it makes perfect sense.

If you can play the two events at the same course, why not? It saves on construction, travel and, theoretically anyway, should increase interest in the Women's Open because it will have a natural lead-in.

Pinehurst is ideal for it because it has the space to handle what's required from a infrastructure standpoint and the resort can afford giving up Course No. 2 for the block of time necessary to stage the events. The resort will lose all of those big-ticket greens fees at No. 2 but it's during a relatively slow time on the golf calendar there and it's being offset by a nice fat check that comes from hostng the Open.

And, since Pinehurst is a resort, the exposure is priceless.

The course set-up won't have to vary significantly between the events because Pinehurst's challenge is handling the turtle-back greens that reject all the but the most accurate shots.

The rough was too high for the 2005 U.S. Open, the most significant set-up mistake. Mike Davis will see to it that No. 2 has shorter rough, encouraging players to fire at the greens. A week later, when the Women's Open is played, it won't be necessary to take a hatchet to the rough.

(One very early suggestion to Open and Pinehurst officials about 2014: Don't sell as many tickets to the men's event as in 2005. The one complaint I've heard over and over about the most recent Open was how crowded it was. I don't know how many more spectators were there than in 1999 but it felt like a lot and I've had people tell me they weren't likely to go back because it felt so overcrowded).

If anything, the firmness and speed of No. 2's greens may slow down slightly for the Women's Open and, obviously, the course will be shorter.

Putting both Opens together may be a one-time thing, maybe not. Most private clubs wouldn't want to surrender their course for such a large chunk of the summer but a resort or public course might.

Bethpage Black doesn't seem suited to host a Women's Open but Pebble Beach would work as a doubleheader site.

Maybe this is a one-time thing. Maybe not.


Andy said...

Seems like a lot of stress to put on the course. Lots of divots and ball marks. Typically for major championship venues they don't allow play the weeks leading up to the tournament to get it in great condition. The Women's Open would get a marked up course. And I can't imagine that #2 would be opened back for the resort immediately after the Women's Open after being carved up for 2 weeks, so they'll be losing out on that revenue. I don't think it makes much sense.