Everyone’s Coming to Pinehurst in June

PGA and LPGA at Pinehurst in June

Everybody’s got a major coming up on their tour. The PGA is holding the US Open from June 12 to 15, and the women are going to take it on a few days later, June 19 – 22.

That’s a lot of Pinehurst, and a lot of North Carolina, but that’s ok with me. Pinehurst looks a lot like the rest of North Carolina, gorgeous and green like few places are green.

Pinehurst has become a mecca of sorts for American golf, as one of those mega complexes of courses that are appearing here and there. However, on the website, they also refer to themselves as “The Cradle of American Golf.” Here’s why they are right to do so.

pine 1 They have the courses, all eight of them, all beautiful and PGA, LPGA, USGA tournament worthy – and they’ve got a high standard of design, both in the early years and modern times. Course no. 2 is a Donald Ross from 1907, one of over 400 such designs. Number 3 is a Ross as well. Number 4 is a Ross that has been tweaked and re-opened by Tom Fazio in 2000. Course no. 5, Ellis Maples, holds the Ross vision of mother nature being the master designer, ’61. Tom and George Fazio designed number 6 in ’75, with Rees Jones taking care of number 7 in ’96. The eighth, from ’96, is a Tom Fazio. Ok, so no trouble with having enough courses.
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They have the legends, no doubt about that it. Pretty much every great male golfer who ever lived has played here, in important events. On the PGA side, name a great – he’s been here, almost always liked it, and wouldn’t think of not returning.

It must be noted, however, that some interesting questions have been asked of late. Graeme MacDowell asked one just the other day that’s worth passing along – to paraphrase,  “so what’s with the ‘fake rough’ and ‘props?'” Apparently, the one thing Pinehurst lacks in rough. You’re either on the fairway, or you’re nowhere, out in the brown, natural landscape, with various bushes and nondescript vegetation. Is someone trying to beef it up at the last minute, despite not having the time to grow anything? I hope the new additions are at least organic, and not plastic. That would be embarrassing.

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In terms of the actual field, it’s hard to be prophet on the PGA side of things. Rory has won recently – maybe he’s back. There’s still no Tiger, and he’s going on around six years now without a major. Looks like anybody’s tournament to me.

pine 2 However, over on the LPGA, things are changing right and left. Stacy’s back, Pettersen’s almost back, Wie is absolutely back, and several others have hit their stride for the arrival of the Women’s US Open. Nobody, however, can time their game like Inbee Park. She won the first three majors of 2013, which should be daunting enough to the competition a year later, but when the Manulife Financial last week looked like it could go in any number of directions, guess who showed up and ran away with it in the last round. Not only is Inbee good at hitting her stride in the right week, but she tends to make it last pretty well, and never goes away for very long.

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The purse for the Women’s US Open is about three times that of the normal weekly tournament. That should inspire a lot of folks, even the newest and youngest qualifier, eleven-year-old Lucy Li of Redwood, California. I still want to know how an eleven-year-old hits the thing far enough to score, but apparently, this one does.

So, get ready for a June filled with a lot of professional golf, a lot of interesting players, some odd questions here and there, and a lot of North Carolina.

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