Planning Begins for Opens in 2014
Even though the first peg won’t be put in the ground for more than three years, planning is already in full swing for the back-to-back U.S. Open golf championships coming to Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014.
“The main thing we have to get squared away early on is the accommodations,” said Caleb Miles, president and CEO of the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The reason is pretty simple: We have about 2,900 hotel rooms, and the event will require more than that.”
Essentially, there are two blocks of rooms needed, one for the “core” people involved in running the the U.S. Open and Women’s Open championships, and another for spectators. The core includes the players and their caddies, the United States Golf Association, corporate sponsors, the media, vendors, volunteers, the television crew and officials from future Open venues.
“Each one of those groups has a different set of needs, so matching the hotels to the groups is the process we’re going through right now,” Miles said.
To that end, Moore County hoteliers met earlier this month with USGA officials to begin planning where everyone will be housed.
“The core group will take most of the rooms in Moore County, so most spectators will stay outside the county,” Miles said. “Our goal is to have the housing component wrapped up by fall.”
Planning so far in advance is “absolutely necessary” because it ensures that everything goes off without a hitch during the championships, said Bonnie Mc-Peake, vice president of McPeake Hotels, which owns the Hampton Inn in Aberdeen and the Best Western in Southern Pines.
“I think what’s most important is all the attention the tournaments will bring to the area and how that will positively affect future business,” McPeake said. “Our name is going to be all over the world. Just keeping it out there is important.”
Different From Others
Miles noted that the planning process differs from past Opens played on the famed No. 2 course — in 1999 and 2005 — because the prep work is being done by the USGA and not Pinehurst Championship Management.
“From our perspective, we’re off to a really good start,” he said. “There’s a lot of excitement, especially given the renovations at No. 2.”
Golf course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw recently completed six months of work on the famous Donald Ross design.
The project emphasized restoring the course’s natural aesthetic characteristics and bringing back strategic play originally crafted by Ross that may have been lost over time. The changes included returning sandy waste areas, native wire grass and natural bunker edges; widening the fairways to play as they did in the era from 1935 to 1960; and reducing the amount of manicured rough.
“Pinehurst Resort and our area are really one of the top sites for Open championships, because the USGA can do a lot of things here that they can’t elsewhere,” Miles said. “For example, they get more people to come when they host an Open here.”
About 325,000 spectators attended the weeklong U.S. Open in 2005, the last time the resort hosted the event, and they generated an economic impact of $71 million in direct spending across 12 counties.
“At least 75 percent of that stayed in Moore County,” Miles said.
The CVB is also working with the N.C. Department of Transportation on a beautification plan that will include sprucing up the Traffic Circle and other high-traffic areas in the county.
‘A Lot of Questions’
Miles only wonders how the men’s and women’s Opens will “dovetail together,” given that it will be the first time the two events have been conducted in consecutive weeks at the same venue.
“There are a lot of questions with the 2014 Opens being back-to-back,” Miles said. “We don’t have all the answers yet.”
Still, Pinehurst No. 2 will become the first golf course to host all five of the USGA’s primary championships — the U.S. Open, the Women’s Open, the U.S. Senior Open, the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
The course has hosted nine USGA championships since 1962, the latest of which was the 2008 U.S. Amateur, won by Danny Lee.
USGA officials have said that No. 2 will play at about 7,500 yards for the 2014 U.S. Open June 12-15 and four days later play approximately 6,700 yards for the U.S. Women’s Open.
“The ability to provide women golfers with the opportunity to compete in a championship setting on the same course, under similar conditions, as their male counterparts is certainly unique to the USGA,” Barbara Douglas, chairman of the USGA’s Women’s Committee, said two years ago when the historic an-nouncement was made. “The staging of these championships is a significant statement for the sport of golf.”
Contact Ted M. Natt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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