Courses & TravelMay 23, 2010

Pinehurst No. 2A: Breakdown Of The Update

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[#image: /photos/55ad72cab01eefe207f69653]|||PH_10.jpg|||An update on the progress of the renovations at Pinehurst No.2__, which are being done by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. (I met Coore at Bandon Dunes a few weeks ago--the man defines nice.)

Coore and Crenshaw have been brought in to dust off Donald Ross. Here's the start of a letter they wrote to "Pinehurst Members and Guests" . . .  It has been our pleasure since February 2010 to embark on an important renovation project on Pinehurst No. 2. You will see some of these efforts as you play No. 2, and we want to take this opportunity to explain the background, goals and elements of this project.__

Click here for a link to the complete letter and a lot more about the update . . .

Here's a video saying a lot of similar things that are in the letter:____ __

"It is, without question, a masterpiece," says Coore, referring to No. 2. "It's like a work of art that has gathered a little dust." (Sounds like some of my friends.)__

Here's some more of the letter:

Both of us have known and revered the No. 2 course for many years. We have deep admiration for Donald Ross, his design style and how those elements and the spirit of golf are manifested in this wonderful golf course. In our golf course design careers, we have attempted to build golf courses that make the best use of the natural terrain with minimal earth-moving; that challenge the player's mind in addition to his golf skills; and that are fun to play without being riddled with harsh hazards that exact a painful toll on a golfer if he's having a bad day.  No. 2 is certainly on a pedestal in those regards.

While Pinehurst No. 2 has been the site of two successful U.S. Opens in recent years, the feeling among many in golf was that No. 2 had simply become too encumbered with lush green grass and that the fairways had become too narrow.

Payne Stewart (1999)--successful. Michael Campbell (2005)--I'd make some changes too.

Bunkers were no longer accessible because balls would be trapped in four inches of thick rough before reaching the hazard. There was no width to play, no room to work the magic angles that were such a part of Ross's strategic concepts in designing the course. You knew if you missed a fairway your only option was to hack the ball out of the thick rough; gone was the element of surprise and whether you might draw a good lie on the firm sand or perhaps be stuck behind a tuft of wire grass or a patch of pine straw. Thus the decision was made to restore much of that essential character to No. 2.

Finally, a clear explanation as to why No. 2 wobbles my walk and pokes holes in my spirit.

We were given the high honor by officials at Pinehurst to coordinate this project. The lengths of the holes and the greens are remaining essentially the same. What will be different is that the fairways will be returned to their original dimensions and the areas beyond them will evolve back into their natural state.

[#image: /photos/55ad72cab01eefe207f69651]|||Pinehurst13:14.jpg|||Click here for a bigger version of the image above, which is the before (L.) and after (R.) of No. 13 (the hole on the right) and No. 14 (the hole on the left).

As you make your way around No. 2, you'll see some areas that have been stripped of Bermuda grass and will be returned to a natural state of hard-pan sand and wire grass. You'll see some other areas of the old roughs that are thinning and browning; this is where we have simply turned off the water. This is not a lack of maintenance attention or budget. It is by design and it's part of the master plan.

We are already seeing a lot more of less water on golf courses all across the country, but in most cases, I think it does have to do with budgets. ____ ____The result in a year or two--this is a process not easily contained on a time-line--will be a course with more texture and contrast, that will have no sharp edges and no straight lines. We believe it will look as if Donald Ross found a great piece of gently undulating ground and simply "laid" a golf course on top of it. The course will play more as it was originally intended--firm and fast and maintained with significantly less water than before. ____

Love firm and fast. It reminds me of the bowling lanes in Brooklyn and the women I meet in Manhattan.

The fairways will actually be wider than before, but the overall footprint of the course will have significantly less maintained turf.

Donald Ross is not alive and can't tell us what to do.

Try listening to the wind. You have to think Old-Man-Ross sleeps in the trees of No. 2.

All we can do is use our understanding of this golf course and our understanding through research of what it was like. We are fortunate to have excellent aerial and ground photography from the 1930s and '40s on which to base our decisions. We will take all of this perspective and try to come closer to what it once was. It's an honor to be here and we appreciate your patience as we work to restore one of the true treasures in the game of golf.

I agree, it has grown on me. As I travel the country playing a lot of repeat products, it's No. 2 that sticks out as one of the most unique experiences I have ever had on a golf course anywhere in the world.

Cordially,  Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

Any interest in playing golf at Pinehurst?Click here to check out the Father's Day Special (June 18-21). ____

For $795 per person, the package includes:

--Three nights accommodations at the Carolina Hotel--Two rounds of golf - Pinehurst No. 2 with caddies and Pinehurst No. 4____--Opening Night Reception & Dinner with James Dodson as Master of Ceremonies--Saturday evening dinner--remembering Harvie Ward--Exclusive Saturday & Sunday U.S. Open VIP Room Access--featuring multiple big screen televisions, putting contest, afternoon snacks, interactive games, etc.--Daily breakfast buffet in Carolina Dining Room

Sweet deal with about a $565 savings per person.

I went to a Duke/UNC basketball game at Duke with Dodson last year, he's the author of Final Rounds, which is a tribute to his father and golf.

The buffet is top two in all of golf and right now I can't think of any that are better.

For your information, they start aerating No. 2 on Wednesday (May 26), so they'll close down through June 1. If the Coore/Crenshaw project (going three holes at a time and only working on the rough right now) drastically affects play, you might get a break on the green fee. Maybe.

--Matty G.

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