These Area Busy Days at Pinehurst
There’s a lot of stuff going on at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club these days, and much of it has to do with the first-ever doubleheader U.S. Opens, when the men and the women hold their national championships in consecutive weeks in June 2014.
But that’s just the icing on the cake. That’s the frilly stuff. Just take a look at some of the other stuff that’s happening. A multi-million-dollar renovation of the members’ clubhouse is under way.
The No. 1 course has recently had its greens converted from the popular but troublesome bentgrass to the new Bermuda variety that is sweeping the South.
Members and guests are raving over the new putting surfaces, and the maintenance crew is celebrating not having to be as concerned with the blistering heat of the Sandhills summers.
Pinehurst’s director of golf course maintenance and grounds, Bob Farren, thinks that in the near future all of the Pinehurst complex courses — with the possible exception of the Rees Jones-designed No. 7 — will be switched to the new Bermuda grass.
“People are really enjoying the greens on No. 1,” Farren said. “The putting surfaces are excellent. Another change this year is that we didn’t overseed courses 1, 2, 3 and 7.”
The highly rated Centennial No. 8 course, designed by Tom Fazio, appears to be the next layout scheduled for a conversion to the new greens.
“Plans are to do a course a year,” Farren said. “It’s going to be hard to change the No. 7 greens over, though. The greens there are raised so that it will be hard to keep approach shots from running off the green on the faster surfaces.”
Another course that people keep asking about is Pinehurst No. 9. This layout — on the property that was originally known as The Pit, a Dan Maples original design — is destined to become the long-awaited No. 9, but not in the next couple of years.
Bill Coore, who along with Ben Crenshaw masterminded the No. 2 restoration, has completed a routing for a new course on the property. Pinehurst president, Don Padgett II, said earlier this year that there are no immediate plans to begin construction.
“We’re not using any part of the old Pit layout,” Padgett said. “It’s an entirely new golf course, and (Pinehurst owner) Bob Dedman Jr. wanted Bill to go ahead with the routing, and he carved out what he’d need for 18 holes. But we have no date in mind for beginning construction.
“I don’t think we’ll kick this off before the U.S. Opens, and it will probably take two years to build it. With the economy still a little slow, we don’t think that opening a new course now would increase our play at the resort. It appears golfers would just be playing there instead of at one of the other courses.”
While some of the holes of the new course will be located on the original Pit location, all the holes will be entirely new. Even the popular (or dreaded) par-3 island hole is not going to be replicated.
Considering the property, located on an old sand quarry site, it figures that the No. 9 Course will be spectacular. The work that Coore and Crenshaw have done on Pinehurst No. 2 and at Dormie Club is being praised , and the general opinion is that if given the opportunity to build a course from scratch in Pinehurst, they will rise to the occasion.
Nothing at Pinehurst Resort is done without infinite research, and not too many people are complaining about recent results.
In fact, both Padgett and Farren are adamant that a rumor going around a few months ago that No. 2 would be returned to its old look following the U.S. Open is nothing but crazy talk.
“No way that’s going to happen,” Padgett said.
“It definitely isn’t going to happen,” Farren said. “Coore and Crenshaw were emphatic that they didn’t want to do this and then have the USGA come in and change it to their setup.
“They wanted assurance that it wouldn’t be changed, and both Mike Davis and Jim Hyler, the USGA president then, were 100 percent in favor of it.
“No. 2 is a one-of-a-kind golf course. There’s nothing else like it in the world.”
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