While the U.S. Open is being played on the iconic Pinehurst No. 2, the professionals coming in early to hone their skills for the subsequent U.S. Women’s Open will be able to do so at course No. 7.
“It will be a private area for them to get away and practice,” Bob Farren, director of grounds and golf course maintenance at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, said Monday. “The United States Golf Association (USGA)is looking for a way to be accommodating to the earlier arrivals as they try to dovetail the two weeks together.”
The championships are being played in June at the same venue in back-to-back weeks for the first time. Farren said making No. 7 available to the women during the final two rounds of the men’s tournament gives them “a good place to hang out and play some.”
“We would never overpromise and underdeliver on the idea that the greens at No. 7 will be duplicates of No. 2, but they will be good,” he said. “The texture of the turf around the greens at both courses is similar, and the green surrounds at No. 7 best mimic those at No. 2. So, from a short-game perspective, it will be a good place to practice.”
Farren’s comment came before Media Day for the championships, where much of the discussion centered around the condition of No. 2.
The course should be in immaculate shape for the men, with the fairways pristine and the greens firm and fast. But the women are already uneasy about having to play some shots from repaired divots made by the men in fairways and collection areas around the greens.
USGAExecutive Director Mike Davis addressed that concern last month during a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) players meeting in Phoenix.
“Well, divots are just part of the game,” he said. “I think half the players scowled at me and half of them laughed.”
Former LPGAplayer Vicki Goetze-Ackerman lauded Davis for his honesty.
“You didn’t lie,” Goetze-Ackerman said. “That’s good.”
“We really don’t think divots are going to be part of the story,” he said. “Will there be some players in divots? Of course there will be. There will be some men in them.”
Goetze-Ackerman, who won the 1989 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2, said the unprecedented nature of the two weeks has made the second week “the most talked about and anticipated Women’s Open yet.”
“The increase in awareness and exposure for the event and women’s golf are significant positives for the LPGA Tour as well as the game of golf,” she said. “We feel that bringing the women’s and the men’s games together is not only innovative and open-minded, but a great opportunity to showcase the best of the best in the game of golf for both genders.
“Personally, I think this is the coolest thing ever.”