By Alex Myers
PINEHURST, N.C. -- There will be a bunch of recurring themes during the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst. We present 11 things/people you should be prepared to know all about by week's end.
In case you didn't know, Pinehurst No. 2 is a "Donald Ross" design. But of course you know that by now. You probably also have memorized the fact that he had a hand in approximately 400 U.S. courses and that the Scottish-born architect lived in a house off the third fairway of what he considered his masterpiece.
This isn't one person's name. It's also not the name of a law firm. It refers to Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the two designers who oversaw the renovation to Pinehurst No. 2 and were entrusted to not screw up Ross' masterpiece. So what were their main changes?
"Coore/Crenshaw" took out 35 acres of Bermuda rough, leaving large areas filled with sand and natural vegetation in its place. You will also hear the areas off the fairway referred to as waste areas. This was done to "restore the course to Donald Ross' original vision."
Traditionally, the U.S. Open is known for its thick/punitive/juicy/ridiculous/wrist-breaking rough, but there is none of that this week. You will hear players/commentators constantly say there is "no rough." However, that doesn't mean players can just bomb away off the tee without fear. Did we mention the "natural/waste areas"? They're pretty gnarly. Speaking of those. . .
Phil Mickelson is probably talking about "waste areas," "wiregrass," or "flyer lies" here.
Why is there so much sand at Pinehurst No. 2? Because the course was built in the beautiful "Sandhills region" of North Carolina. It feels like you're walking on a beach in some areas. But be careful, players. There's a difference between the "natural/waste areas" and the bunkers. Don't ground your club in the latter.
This stuff within the "waste areas" could drive the players nuts this week. It appears in clumps and players will have to continually evaluate how the ball is sitting to figure out if it's going to come out "dead" or if they have drawn a dreaded. . .
These are lies, usually among the "wiregrass," that causes the ball to shoot out without any spin and carry a lot farther than intended. These are dangerous to players. And fans. Usually, there aren't many "flyer lies" at the U.S. Open, but with "no rough" and "natural/waste areas," we'll see plenty this week.
Before "Coore/Crenshaw" returned this "Donald Ross" masterpiece to its original vision with "natural/waste areas," Pinehurst's defining characteristic were "crowned greens." These were a favorite of Ross and they can make hitting a ball to the correct part of the green -- or keeping the ball on the green at all -- very tricky. But where do the balls go that don't stay on the green?
Another "Donald Ross" trademark, these are tightly-mown areas of grass -- not rough -- where golf balls collect. There are a lot of ways to play these shots. Hence, many analysts are predicting this week's winner will have a. . .
"Creative short game"
From putting from off the green, to chipping from off the green with a fairway wood, to hitting bump-and-runs to trying soft pitches to hitting regular, old, boring chips, golfers will use a variety of short-game shots. You will see these various methods and hear about just how "creative" the players are being virtually every time they play a short-game shot.
We've discussed the different methods pros can use around the green, but they'll also have plenty of "options" off the tee depending on how aggressive they want to be. That is how "Donald Ross" envisioned Pinehurst No. 2 playing and that was a big part of the renovations by "Coore/Crenshaw." Got it?