Setups at Pinehurst to be same for men, women
The USGA plans to keep the same setup for the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in June.
At a news conference during the U.S. Golf Association's annual meeting in Pinehurst, N.C., on Saturday, managing director Mike Davis confirmed that the green speeds of 11.5 would be the same for the men and the women, who will play the following week on Pinehurst No. 2.
“We did that at Oakmont (and) contrary to what some people think, the women handled the green speeds beautifully,” Davis said. “Oakmont, we were over 14-and-a-half, and the women handled that just beautifully.”
With the recent changes done by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, removing most of the rough off the course and replacing it with sandy areas inhabited with wire grass, there will be no issue with rough height as there would have been before the renovation.
A bigger concern is what the women will experience with the divot holes created by the men the week before. According to Davis, the divots will be filled with sand. Bermudagrass divots generally are not as big as those from other grasses, yet if a player finds one it still will be difficult to play a shot.
“I think our view with divots is, it's just part of the game,” Davis said. “We've played U. S. Opens before – I can think of Pebble Beach. We've had Opens there where the public is playing up till right at the end, and there are divots all over the place, and the reality is that's just part of the game.”
Davis did say that the first, third, seventh and 13th holes will be ones of particular concern because the men and the women will be in the same landing areas.
A possible solution to cut down on the divot holes in those areas will be to ask the men during practice rounds not to hit as many practice shots because they will be using shorter clubs that will create larger and deeper divot holes.
The only significant change to Pinehurst No. 2 over the two weeks will be the distance for each championship. The men will play the course at roughly 7,500 yards and the women at about 6,700 yards, with both playing the Donald Ross design as a par 70.
“I think they're going to view it as, wow, this is great for women's golf,” Davis said of the LPGA players. “This is going to showcase it. We're going to have people watching who ordinarily wouldn't have watched.”