Seeing No. 2 Turns Doubters Into Believers
Remember that old Monkees song “I’m a Believer”?
Well, I’ve seen her face and now I’m a believer.
The face is that of the Pinehurst No. 2 Course and to see it is to believe that there is something very special going on here. There’s not a doubt in my mind.
Frankly, I wasn’t too sure that the changes being made to the old Donald Ross creation were going be a hit with golfers.
But after spending an hour riding the course and discussing the changes with Pinehurst manager of golf courses and grounds Bob Farren, I’ve made up my mind.
I like it.
Farren understood where I was coming from when I admitted I hadn’t been sure about the wisdom of converting the course from a lush layout to the natural way it was originally designed to be played by Ross. In fact, he admitted that even he had wondered what the end result would be.
Well, it’s still awhile before the restoration of the course being made by designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw is complete. The course, which has remained open since the work began a few months ago, will close Nov. 16 and reopen in early March.
But the jury is already in. This is going to be one awesome layout and, in my opinion, the golfers, both those who play for pay and those who play for fun, are going to love it.
Remember those Bermuda grass roughs that could hide golf balls from anxious eyes? Gone. Remember those narrow fairways that defied a golfer to keep his ball on the short grass? Gone.
That doesn’t mean the course is being stripped of its defenses. Not by long shot. It’s just that instead of having all that Bermuda grass rough to hide in, balls that don’t stay in the fairway are going to be finding some unpredictable lies among sand, pine straw, pine cones and, oh yeah, wiregrass tufts.
That’s the way Donald Ross intended for it to play.
To ensure that the rough won’t grow back, the Bermuda has been sprayed with Roundup, which will kill almost anything.
Frankly, Farren isn’t quite sure what to call the areas. “I hate saying natural,” he said. “I like to call it landscape. Actually, it’s just a no-turf area.”
Farren likes to talk about how the changes are being made.
“We’ve cut the irrigation points basically in half,” he said, “from 1,100 sprinklers to 450, just leaving the lines down the middle of the fairway.
“It’s kind of like refurbishing an old house. We’re taking up all the old shag carpet and we’re finding all those beautiful hardwood floors underneath. We’re pulling away layers. It’s hard pulling away 70 years of layers, but we’re finally getting there.”
Despite all the talk about shag carpets, the reports of finding copper-tone washers and dryers and avocado refrigerators buried in some of the bunkers have been debunked.
One huge change in maintenance will be in mowing. All the grass from tee to green will be mowed one length. There will actually be more fairway mowing because of the added width.
And despite having to use only one mower height, Farren doesn’t see a great decrease in maintenance personnel or expenses.
“It’s hard to say how much more or less labor will be involved,” he said. “It’s not as much reduced as it is redirected. We’re definitely going to save water, though.”
Farren laughs when he shows off the reshaped bunker on the left of the 12th green.
“Golfers are going to get a surprise on this hole when they hit balls near this bunker,” he said. “The area used to be designed to funnel balls away from running into the bunker. But now it’s going to funnel them in. It’s going to eat golf balls.”
Farren is sure that golfers who play the course for the first time after it reopens are going to be in for some revelations.
“It’s much more dramatic than I ever imagined,” he said. “I knew we were going to do some tweaking, but the full significance wasn’t revealed until the U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2009.”
I’m a believer.
Contact Howard Ward by e-mail at howardward@att. net.
More like this story