Pinehurst No. 2

Is Pinehurst's No. 2 the Anti-Augusta National?

This article originally appeared on

The par-4 13th at Pinehurst No. 2 is a perfect example of the rugged look reintroduced by Coore and Crenshaw. (Pinehurst Resort)

This year’s back-to-back U.S. Opens were two of my favorites ever.

Yes, Martin Kaymer sucked most of the drama out of things with his brilliant play--and Michelle Wie added a bit back--but for golf course architecture nerds like me, Pinehurst No. 2 was the star.


Because I’m down with brown.

If you watched coverage of the men's and/or women's U.S. Opens, you probably noticed that Pinehurst No. 2 was a lot less green than in past years.

Contrary to what we've grown accustomed to here in the USA, I think that’s a great thing.

Let me explain:

When Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw worked on Pinehurst No. 2 in 2010 and 2011, they were not adding their own marks to the course so much as peeling away the last few decades of architectural neglect that had compromised some of the brilliance of a course that Donald Ross spent the last third of his life refining.

No. 2 had always had its trademark green complexes, where the putting surfaces often drop off on all sides to fairway chipping areas, but thick Bermuda rough and overwatering had slimmed the fairways down to a fraction of their intended size.

Not only did Coore and Crenshaw remove more than 30 acres of rough—replacing it with the sandy scrub you saw—they cut the number of sprinkler heads in the fairways by more than half, despite dramatically increasing fairway acreage.

That’s why you noticed the fairways were brown up the sides and only a pale green up the middle. That’s by design—the USGA’s, Coore and Crenshaw’s, and Donald Ross’.

In other words, Pinehurst No. 2 now plays a lot more like the great links courses of Great Britain and Ireland, where golf was born.

So why did so many golfers think Pinehurst looked “ugly” and “awful”?

Blame Augusta National.

Augusta is known as the most immaculately maintained golf course in the world. And it’s no wonder—they have the biggest maintenance budget of any golf course in the world by such a large margin it’s scary.

And yet, many public course players and private club types demand that their courses emulate Augusta because they think that’s “how a golf course is supposed to look.”

So superintendents have been commanded to overwater courses, producing excessively soft conditions that kill the opportunity for bump-and-run in favor of the much less interesting “flop-and-splat.”

That’s no fun and, what’s worse, it’s expensive.

In a world where water is going to be more and more important to conserve, golf courses that learn to live on less will thrive.

Pinehurst No. 2 will be one of them, having cut their annual water usage from 55 million gallons pre-restoration to just 15 million gallons.

Not only does this have both a positive financial and environmental impact, it allows golfers to play the type and variety of shots that makes the game so endlessly intriguing.

Next month, the golf world will watch as another lovely blonde, Royal Liverpool Golf Club, hosts the Open Championship.

Tiger Woods won the 2006 Open there during a summer drought when the entire course was browned out and the fairways were running almost as fast as the greens.

Woods’ display of shotmaking that week was one of the best in history, as he cruised to a two-shot victory employing all sorts of punch and bump-and-run shots at the course known as Hoylake.

Again, this is what I'd like to see more of here in North America.

But what do you think? Do you enjoy courses that are a little brown on the edges, rather than green and lush throughout?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Jun 24, 2014

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robbo's avatar
robbo wrote at 2015-07-27 08:41:24+00:00:

California would love those 40 million extra gallons of water right now.

Pinehurst is lovely; Ross designed it as a natural extension of the terrain, and it remains as such to this day.

I guess they'll have to re-order the watering schedule for you green-snobs in 2024 hey

Bob W's avatar
Bob W wrote at 2015-02-09 17:44:26+00:00:

I live in Pinehurst and belong to the club. I thought the course looked ugly. It looked even worse on TV. They did themselves a disservice to host this event and not have the course in good condition. Playing golf on dirt, hard pan and burned out conditions is not right. It looked like a low class municipal course on a cheep budget.

Matt McGuire's avatar
Matt McGuire wrote at 2015-01-03 04:17:11+00:00:

I played both Pinehurst No.2 and Augusta National last month with my father. They are both totally different but both were enjoyable. Pinehurst No.2 was very challenging all over whilst Augusta was a lot easier until you got onto the greens. There are always going to be different styles of golf courses - I am open to both types and really enjoyed being fortunate enough to play both. You have to appreciate the style of both courses and play them the way they were designed.

Terry's avatar
Terry wrote at 2014-12-30 20:29:23+00:00:

I for one love green and trees, rather than brown on brown. Grew up in Western Pa. and that is what it is. Thirty years ago , I played municipal courses in Memphis, without watering systems. I am happy I have belonged to nice clubs over the years nie. No more ground that the grass died on , hard as rocks ,and dust flying everywhere. Thought I was in the Dust Bowl.

craig's avatar
craig wrote at 2014-11-25 04:48:49+00:00:

I too was down for the open this year and thought the course was fantastic and back to thoriginal ross design.and it was easier as a fan to get around augusta,I loved the pinehurst experience. If rumors are true i'm playing it for the first time next weekend so I'll comment further then

Brent Anderson's avatar
Brent Anderson wrote at 2014-07-02 23:05:34+00:00:

I attended the US Open, walked the course and played other courses in the area. I like the redesign of Pinehurst #2 with its natural areas and the architects' attempt to recreate its original look. However, I do not like the redesign of the irrigation system and its resulting green circles in the middle of the fairway. Why were courses in the 1900's brown and hard? Irrigation was primarily done by rain and supplemented by dragging hoses around the more critical areas, which proved adequate to sustain the golf course in its "brown" condition, but not much more.

Wouldn't Pinehurst #2 rough been more challenging if its natural grasses and other growth been more lush than desert-like? I live in the semi-desert and am not a proponent of over-watering, nor do I abhor brown spots on a fairway. Yet, with all the technological advancement in landscape design, surely there are better solutions than simply not watering half the fairway and all of the "natural areas".

Definitely not my idea of a $450 golf experience.

the london golfer alias roger's avatar
the london golfer alias roger wrote at 2014-06-30 13:48:41+00:00:

i have just returned from my twice yearly pilgrimage to usa to play golf,this year played arcadia bluffs and bay harbour in michigan ,the reference to pinehurst 2 and augusta, i have played one of them few years ago after the renovation had taken place,

expensive yes, but not as good as Erin hills or the course i mentioned above and only 190 green fee for arcadia which is a great course, more in line with british courses that we play, unluckily we dont suffer from excess water usage as it is raining here most of the year,i would love to play or even get a ticket for augusta, but that is another matter, there is a time and place for each course subject to budgets,but i believe that at least now 4 out of the next 6 us opens are on public courses, which is how it should be , not all private courses.they hAve their place in life but it would be nice for the brits to play some of these , as we allow all americans to play on all our open courses, otherwise they are taken off the open rota, even if some permit only 3 days a week to the public,to end ,build more natural courses using the local topography and minimise water for fairways ie use only tees and greens

TJ Jung's avatar
TJ Jung wrote at 2014-06-26 23:19:14+00:00:

I was there and the course looks nothing like your photo above. It should have looked exactly like it though !!

Worst Open I have even been to, dust every time pro hit the ball from the fairway, nice try USGA to try and convince the world that brown is OK, but for our National championship we should have the best (and toughest) conditions. The course really looked likea cheap muni in florida in August.

Narmo L. Ortiz's avatar
Narmo L. Ortiz wrote at 2014-06-26 14:03:28+00:00:

Believe that this golf course is way over rated and over glamourized. Augusta is a beauty for the priviledged few.

Need more sensible fees, and less - fake innovation - equipment wise.

Otherwise, who will be playing golf 10 years from now?

Dr John G Gahan's avatar
Dr John G Gahan wrote at 2014-06-26 09:50:17+00:00:

Pinehurst #2 - a traditional golf links that triggers imagination and skill. August National, great (pretty) course that encourages less skill and boring target golf.

Pete's avatar
Pete wrote at 2014-06-25 23:56:15+00:00:

Brown is the way all courses should go-at least brownER! More roll is a good thing for those of us that cannot hit the ball 250 yards. Slow play is the bane of golf in the U.S. If we do not fix that with closer management then courses will disppear due to no play. I also agree with the gent that said the greens fees are getting out of control!!

Wayne's avatar
Wayne wrote at 2014-06-25 18:40:14+00:00:

It all comes down to dollars and sense. If you will be able to save a lot on your green-fee because there is less water used then it is a situation that I would agree with. But as probably is the case the water usage went down by 70 % but did the green-fee go down by that much. Even though I do not know the figures I can imagine it did not. What all golfers in the world should do is refuse to play on a course if it is above $200. This would change the pricing right away. I played on Playa Grande (DR) for about $450 with a bus ride and awful lunch package. I will NEVER pay that much again. It is just a rip off. It makes no sense to me at all.

Rick's avatar
Rick wrote at 2014-06-25 16:29:08+00:00:

As a member at Pinehurst I have been able to play #2 many times, both before, during and after the restoration. Complaints and compliments abound, but the bottom line is that it is actually more playable in many ways now with the wider fairways and greater roll. First time players will profit greatly from taking a caddie to help with course management and the devilish putting reads. If you stay at the Carolina or Holly on a package the greens fee is much less than 450 btw. I like both the courses in question . My favorite course that I have played is Sawgrass. In this area 2,4,8 and Tobacco Road , Pine Needles are my favorites.

Bob J.'s avatar
Bob J. wrote at 2014-06-25 16:09:17+00:00:

Glad to have read Frank Johnson's message. I too was not pleased with the customer service of the USGA. Too many people running around on carts with USGA credentials and superior attitudes. Pinehurst Resort seems to be migrating to exclusiveness and indifferent to the everyday member that is paying a lot of the freight. Come to think of it, they seem to be carting the same attitude the USGA sported during the tournament. They could take some valuable lessons from the PGA in regards to customer/specator service.

Mike DuMont's avatar
Mike DuMont wrote at 2014-06-25 13:32:57+00:00:

No two golf courses will ever be identical so no two golfers will ever agree on what is the perfect golf course. I, for one, have often wondered what golf was like 75 or more years ago. Pinehurst No.2 is as close to that as I guess I'll get on this side of the pond. I can't find the balls used back then or the clubs, so the course is perfect for my trip to yesteryear using today's equipment.

Crenshaw and Coore have given me a glimpse into the past and I can't play Augusta so I'm thankful for what they have done and will just have to dream of playing Augusta National where too much water is probably used and too much fertilizer is spread, and too much exclusivity is involved. Yet, it is the only permanent venue for a major in the world - long may it reign and evolve. Both courses should be honored and cherished.

Steve F's avatar
Steve F wrote at 2014-06-25 12:49:40+00:00:

Pinehurst No 2 vs Augusta Nat'l seems a matter of personal preference. Like debating which is better, Rock n Roll or Classical music? "The Beatles are far better than Mozart!!" It's a bit absurd to argue whose preference is "right". They're very different styles of course, with their own charms and different challenges.

I do enjoy natural, links-style conditions, but I greatly preferred Bandon & Pacific Dunes to #2. I played Pinehurst last year and personally enjoyed the more Augusta-like feel of Fazio's #4 to #2. Pebble, Bandon/Pacific, Sawgrass, Bethpage, and Cape Kidnappers, all ranked ahead of Pinehurst #2 for me. But again it's simply preference, and I suspect for players who are a lower handicap than me I could see where #2 would be a more enjoyable challenge.

Matt's avatar
Matt wrote at 2014-06-25 10:27:08+00:00:

Has anyone seen a 1936 picture of Augusta? Looked more like today's #2 than today's ANGC, and it played fast and firm with no rough. Augusta didn't go wall to wall green until the advent of sophisticated sprinkler systems and color tv.

Benjie Lewis's avatar
Benjie Lewis wrote at 2014-06-25 06:24:14+00:00:

I know that brown is the new green, but I still like the green a little better. Easier to hit off of, less bare lies, etc. The also get that the idea is to show golfers that their home course doesn't have to look like Augusta to be a good course. Superintendents must love this, but the average golfer probably won't change his opinion.

BigAl's avatar
BigAl wrote at 2014-06-25 04:47:54+00:00:

Augusta is what is wrong with golf in the States. And our "love" of Augusta is cancering into the rest of the world, ruining many spectacular natural courses with too much irrigation and pesticides.

Too much money spent on the Augusta and too much attention to making everything "perfect". Perfect for what? TV and the very rich members egos. It is time the Masters is taken off the "Major" list. The Players is much better and much more enjoyable to watch. Oh, yes, the bird call sound track is kind of cute!!

John Corman's avatar
John Corman wrote at 2014-06-25 04:19:27+00:00:

My vague memory of watching Payne Stewart win at Pinehurst was of a very green course that seemed to have subtleties one could only sense in person at the tourney or by playing. Watching this year a viewer would never guess it is the same course. Very different look. We aren't talking about bowling or tennis which have the same dimensions at every venue (granted tennis has different playing surfaces). Thank goodness we have all this strategic /aesthetic stuff to debate during and after our rounds. Pinehurst is across the country from me and quite spendy so I may never be able to opine on its merits. Augusta I'd also love to play but not likely to happen. Living in the Pacific Northwest I play At Bandon yearly. My partners and I constantly debate which courses we like best or least. I personally would be disappointed if they lushed Bandon up to look like a country club... but I like the country club thing at different places. Embrace the differences guys! If you don't like it, stay away in the future. If you like or love it, return. Have fun out there!

Dave R's avatar
Dave R wrote at 2014-06-25 02:54:06+00:00:

I liked the look at Pinehurst #2 and I also like the look at Augusta. I've played both and I would happily return to each. The greatest aspect of golf is that every course is different. Clubs and public courses alike should not try to emulate either Augusta National or Pinehurst #2 but should be what their native soils, climate, grasses, available water and budgets allow. In the future, I look forward to playing not only firm and fast courses (with some brown), but also the many great parkland and other courses that are lush and green.

Dave C's avatar
Dave C wrote at 2014-06-25 02:12:54+00:00:

Any US Open course is better than Augusta. Same with British Open courses. Reason has more to do with playability than looks. Me being a 7-8 handicap will NEVER get to play Augusta. But I can play almost every US Open or British Open venues. Even PGA Championship courses. Augusta to me is way over rated.

Nick Matteo's avatar
Nick Matteo wrote at 2014-06-25 00:56:44+00:00:

Sorry but I am not a fan of the brown course. In fact it was so visually unappealing I avoided watching the open. Part of the pleasure of playing golf for me is the walk in in a park like atmopshere. No. 2 appeared quite the opposite.

Patrick Butler's avatar
Patrick Butler wrote at 2014-06-25 00:44:14+00:00:

I am a member at Pinehurst and have been for 10 years. I would like to add my two cents as someone who didn't just see the course on TV (or in person) the last two weekends but has also played it prior to and after the Coore/Crenshaw redo.

1. The members do not play the brown course you saw over the last two weekends. We play a course that has very green and lush fairways when the bermuda is not dormant and dyed fairways when the bermuda is dormant. The course was brown for the open because the USGA wanted it to play firmer and faster and increase the challenge to the players. The only members or resort guests who will play the course in the brown condition you saw on TV are those that play between 6/22 and 6/29 when they are specifically keeping it in "Open" condition. They will do this for one week until they tear out the bent grass greens and replace them with hybrid Bermuda. I play there tomorrow and will post again then.

2. We also don't play the course with greens stimping at 14. For us, they keep it around 10-12, and again, they had the greens especially fast to increase the challenge for the Open participants.

3. To view the dry, fast, difficult course you saw the last two weekends and decide you don't want to play #2, or conclude it is a "dogtrack" based on the difficulties you saw the pros endured is silly. Hello, it is the US Open and they routinely take the course conditions to the edge or past (Does anyone remember the Par 3 #7 at Shinnecock or the 18th at Olympic?). You have to be smart enough to know that the course would never be set up that way for member/resort play. If Pinehurst had the course play that way for members and resort guests, the average golfer would shoot well into the hundreds and would be on the course for 6+ hours. There would be no members and no resort guests.

4. The views you saw from the elevated cameras and blimp simply did not do the course justice. To stand on the tee and see the stark contrast between the waste areas and the fairway is something that was never adequately captured during the TV coverage. It is a lot like the courses in Scotland and Ireland. It is a totally different and much better experience to play them as opposed to watch TV coverage of a tournament on them. Anyone who has played Turnberry in Scotland or Waterville, Lahinch or Ballybunion in Ireland will totally relate to what I am saying.

5. While I admit, the hype of #2 from the GolfChannel and NBC was a bit over the top, I think the best gauge of the golf course was the responses from the Pros, who (with the exception of Bubba) pretty much loved it.

6. Yes #2 is expensive if you walk off the street. You can do much better if you get a package deal from the resort. If you know a member its $260 or less than $200 off peak season. Further, there is a substantial break for junior golfers. The junior guest fee for #2 is about half of the adult fee. At least there are people posting here who can say that they actually played the course. I suspect that is not the case for Augusta, Shinnecock, or most other strictly private US Open venues. Alberto --- No offense, but do you think it is realistic to call up a resort and expect to get a tee time the week after they just hosted a US Open without staying at the resort? Really? Why not ask Kate Upton for a date? Unfortunately, greens fees, like everything else we buy (except Obamacare) is ruled by the laws of supply and demand.

7. It's a damn shame Tiger wasn't there. I think the poor TV ratings are being attributed to the course, and its stark contrast to past open courses, as opposed to his absence.

8. The bottom line is that pretty much all of us here in Pinehurst love #2 and feel we are at a special place when we play it. We also like quite a few of the other top notch courses we have here including both 18's at Forest Creek, both 18's at Country Club of North Carolina, Pine Needles, Mid-Pines, Pinehurst #8, #9, #7 and #4, etc. PInehurst is a great place to visit and an even better place to live. If you chose not to visit based on the TV coverage of the Opens over the last two weekends, it is truly your loss.

David W's avatar
David W wrote at 2014-06-25 00:32:44+00:00:

First let me say that the USGA did not shave the fringes. I have played the course in its current layout and the fringes are always like that. I used to think a course needed to be green and plush to be a nice course but since I have learned to hit the golf ball first on the down swing it doesn't matter to me anymore. I don't need it set up on plush grass. Also, walking #2 with a caddie is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in golf. I've played The Ocean Course at Kiawah, Paa-Ko Ridge in NM, all the Barefoot Courses at Myrtle Beach, and many other plush, beautiful courses and I would play #2 again in a heartbeat.

Lew Brown's avatar
Lew Brown wrote at 2014-06-25 00:24:20+00:00:

Augusta National, Pinehurst #2, Cypress, Shinnecock, Pine Valley, Pebble Beach, Praire Dunes are all magnificient tests and unique in their own way just as their architects wanted them to be. Congratulations to Crenshaw and Coores for restoring a Donald Ross gem to its previous design.

As a golfer for 70 plus years, it is an honor to count my blessing to having enjoyed playing, walking, and seeing such wonderful landscape scenery.

Jim Brock's avatar
Jim Brock wrote at 2014-06-25 00:05:43+00:00:

I was there, and the current state of Pinehurst #2 is a classic case of "the emperor has no clothes". In my opinion, this is nothing more than crude test to see if today's golfers can be duped into accepting inferior courses that are much less costly to maintain while providing much more profit for their owners/operators. In any event, why go "half way home"? If brown grass, dirty sand and wire grass/brush is so beautiful and historic, why not go all the way and require metal spikes, wood clubs and forged irons only, and knickers to play #2? No dollars from here to play/support what truly is one more ugly, ugly golf course in this present condition!!!!!

Gary Slatter's avatar
Gary Slatter wrote at 2014-06-24 23:00:48+00:00:

Forgot, Pinehurst used to be much better than Augusta. Now it's the other way around.

There is only one way to play Pinehurst, Augusta has far more shot options.

Gary Slatter's avatar
Gary Slatter wrote at 2014-06-24 22:58:29+00:00:

Nice article, liked both Opens, however the new Pinehurst will not remain brown. Most people coming up with $400 will find it sucking, golf has evolved the last 80 years, even in the UK.

Nice experiment, if it reduces green fees to $50, great.

Paul's avatar
Paul wrote at 2014-06-24 20:15:55+00:00:

There are many good points being made here. However, there is a bunch of questions being asked by Tim in his article and by his initial email post.

Is a little brown in a golf course o.k.? The answer is: of course! Cypress Point and many great links courses have much brown in them, and they are great courses. These courses are fun to walk and play, with challlenging shots. Another question is whether Pinehurst 2 is the anti- Augusta National. Well that is obviously yes in the sense that Pinehurst is a public venue (expensive but anyone who wants to spend the money can play it), and Augusta National is such an exclusive club that many Americans who would just love to play the course will never have that chance. Morever, I agree that Pinehurst was not as watered or pampered as Augusta. However, Pinehurst was tinkered with by the USGA in many respects, most notably making the greens ridicucuously hard and shaving the fringes so that par would be a good score for four rounds. The USGA is overly fascinated with Par. There is nothing wrong with birdies. These are the best players in the world! The R&A doesn't care if the leaders are minus 12. That usually does not happen in the British Open because of weather, but remember the Title Bout at Turnberry in 1977? when there was no weather and Watson bested Jack by a shot. Everyone agreed that the best players were there, even though they were several shots under par. The USGA knew that there would be no serious weather at Pinehurst so they doctored up the course to make par the great score. As usual the USGA was right, except for Martin Kaymer who played out of this world.

But back to the main point. What makes a course "better." To me, these are the criteria:

1. Beauty: Augusta, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, Shinnecock, all better in the beauty category than Pinehurst. And yes, there is plenty of Brown in the summer at Shinnecock and the other great Long Island courses.

2. Course Condition. Augusta National is incredible. Ask the players on the PGA tour. Most would say that Augusta is better condtioned. Does this mean every course should be as well conditioned? No. I don't mind playing public and municipal courses. But we are talking "best" here. We wouldn't want our neighborhood church to look like St. Peter's Basillica or the Sistine Chapel, but most would agree that the later two churches are "better" than our neighborhood church.

3. Shot values. Augusta is a bit wide open and it does favor length and a high ball flight, but it really does test shot values. Uphill, downhill, sidehill lies. Augusta has them. Does Pinehurst really have them?

4. Tradition. that is big in my book. Here I think Pinehurst is almost the equal of Augusta, but Augusta was founded by Bobby Jones and the place just exudes class and tradition. Close call but the nod goes to Augusta.

However for my money it would be Cypress, but somewhat sadly that would never happen because the club is so exclusive.

Again, I agree that too much unnatural watering is not needed, but Augusta is still a far better course.

Randy Hollands's avatar
Randy Hollands wrote at 2014-06-24 19:20:11+00:00:

I 100% agree with you.

While we are at it, let's get sprinkler heads to show the distance to the front and have pin sheets.

Pinehurst was beautiful and saving that much water is the future of the sport, because it has to become more economically viable for the courses and the participants so that it will have a chance to attract and retain more golfers.

Peter R's avatar
Peter R wrote at 2014-06-24 19:07:23+00:00:

Augusta National is a billionaires club. The Masters is their plaything, a pretty one but it's their's. It's an invitational. The club even makes their own rules and rulings, i.e., Tiger's drop. The Masters is a rite of spring welcomed by many golfers and non-golfers. Augusta National make millions from TV revenue and merchandise sales every year to offset some of the maintenance costs but I don't imagine it would be any different even if it didn't make a profit. It's a one off and can't and shouldn't be compared to anything other course or tournament in the world.

The USGA has moved away from its elitist past and become more inclusive even though Pinehurst is a high-end resort that is not affordable for most golfers. The US Opens, men's and women's, are summer fixtures and should be played in summer conditions. They made the right decision at Pinehurst #2. By drawing a line in the sand (hills) they are looking at the best interests of their golfing public. A responsible and realistic attitude about water usage and maintenance costs, does not equal a national "brown out". Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. Its presence in ponds, streams and lakes on or near a golf course does not make it free.

Every spring, Augusta ushers in the new golf season with its beauty and promise of things to come. Every summer, reality sets in and we marvel as the best players in the world struggle on courses set up as a true and fair test. Most of us would be lucky to even get near 100 in tournament conditions at either tournament. Let's enjoy them and see what Augusta National and the USGA have in store for us next year. Augusta National is a fantasy. Some of the Open courses are public and, however much they cost, we can dream of testing ourselves on them.


David's avatar
David wrote at 2014-06-24 19:03:20+00:00:

You people that think it was ugly need to wake up. There is a reason why Kaymer won at -9 with Bubba Watson missing the cut acting like a childish baby. It's a Links style course that makes the pros think about shot making and where to hit and where to NOT hit it! Come on, you really think it is fun watching guys drive it 330 yards with a little wedge putting it 3 feet? Or would you all rather see them frustrated and think just like we amateurs do every time we play. I played it which was fantastic! Reminding me of Carnoustie with shot making and expert putting. went to both weeks and thought it was awesome and challenging! You people need to grow up Bc courses that look lush aren't necessarily the best.

David's avatar
David wrote at 2014-06-24 19:02:44+00:00:

You people that think it was ugly need to wake up. There is a reason why Kaymer won at -9 with Bubba Watson kissing the cut acting like a childish baby. It's a Links style course that makes the pros think about shot making and where to hit and where to NOT hit it! Come on, you really think it is fun watching guys drive it 330 yards with a little wedge putting it 3 feet? Or would you all rather see them frustrated and think just like we amateurs do every time we play. I played it which was fantastic! Reminding me of Carnoustie with shot making and expert putting. went to both weeks and thought it was awesome and challenging! You people need to grow up Bc courses that look lush aren't necessarily the best.

Rick Whitfield's avatar
Rick Whitfield wrote at 2014-06-24 17:53:26+00:00:

I loved both opens. Great course and we need to start thinking about water and runoff from golf courses.

John A's avatar
John A wrote at 2014-06-24 17:49:26+00:00:

I agree that more brown is a good thing; anyone who has been to Bandon Dunes would have to agree that lush green is not needed for great golf. HOWEVER.... Pinehurst #2 is raved about to the point where it makes me sick. I have played it 4 or 5 times trying to find what it is that you #2 lovers find so endearing. I haven't found it. The course is drab and those greens are ridiculous. Challenging, sure. Fun to watch the pros struggle with them, certainly. Fun to play, hardly. For $400...get serious. The most common emotion felt by golfers who make the pilgrimage to #2 would have to be disappointment.

Paul Gray's avatar
Paul Gray wrote at 2014-06-24 17:38:38+00:00:

Do you individuals promoting a certain loo over playing conditions have any idea how vacuous you sound? Do you have any experience of the joys of playing links golf? Stop embarrassing yourself or, if you really think green makes for better playing conditions, explain to the educated amongst why you think the game of golf as it was for 400 odd years was less intellectually engaging than watching a Tour pro have zero recovery options from knee high green rough. Remember some of the great feats by the likes of Watson and Ballesteros at the Open Championship? None of that would have occurred if every time a fairway was missed the only option was to hack the ball back into play.

Gary Miller's avatar
Gary Miller wrote at 2014-06-24 17:20:54+00:00:

I have had the opportunity to play Augusta National and many other beautiful courses around the world. To compare the now Pinehurst # 2 with Augusta National is no comparison at all. I play beautiful courses because they offer tranquility, unimaginable beauty and a respite from the rest of the world. I don't need to see ugly when I play golf. While watching both U.S. Opens I couldn't help be distracted by the brown fairways, ugly sidelines and a course that I remembered being one of the most beautiful that I have ever played. Yes I am passionate about the game. But I'm "down with brown" when I have a choice.

Tim Gavrich's avatar
Tim Gavrich wrote at 2014-06-24 17:02:10+00:00:

Michael, one of the commonest misconceptions about golf course maintenance seems to be that if a blade or patch of grass starts to take on a yellowish or light brown color, it must be either "dying" or "dead." This is not true, at least not as often as it is opined. The grass is adapting to changes in its environment and its color is a manifestation of that. Now, if grass that it used to being watered at certain intervals is put through complete drought conditions for a long time, yeah, it'll die. But that was not at all the practice at work at Pinehurst.


Michael R's avatar
Michael R wrote at 2014-06-24 17:01:50+00:00:

What is so attractive about dead grass?

Pat's avatar
Pat wrote at 2014-06-24 16:56:15+00:00:

If you're willing to give up golf due to courses being too brown, then you probably aren't very passionate about the game anyway. Additionally, how short-sighted can you be to realize that lush, perfectly green golf courses are a luxury and will probably one day be a relic of the past when water resources become too scarce to keep them green. If your loyalty to golf depends on the color of the grass then it's probably time to consider a new hobby.

Alberto's avatar
Alberto wrote at 2014-06-24 16:45:00+00:00:

Those who want lush - play lush, those that want brown - play brown.

There are plenty of courses out there, why not play a little of both?

I agree with Jed DuBreuil - the cost to play these courses is ridiculous!

Until we stop throwing money around the cost is not going to come down.

I was invited to Pinehurst to stay with a friend who lives in the area, I could play as a guest at his beautiful private club for about $50. I thought "if I am going all the way to Pinehurst I want to play the renovated #2." So I called the resort - I was informed there were no tee times until Thursday (I assume the sponsors and/or volunteers were playing it Mon-Wed) if I waned to play the course I had to stay at the Pinehurst resort. Then I watch The Open for two straight weekends and listen to the announcers spout about #2 being a public access course. Can't you let me carry my bag for 18 at 3pm for an affordable rate? Is it really a public course if you have to stay at the resort and/or pay ridiculous green fee rates? There are plenty of great courses for $60 or less - they get my money for the two rounds I play per week!

Gene Raymond's avatar
Gene Raymond wrote at 2014-06-24 16:16:54+00:00:

I totally agree. I have played both courses and would prefer to play #2 over Augusta if I had a choice!!

Lets hope the USA gets the message!

Jerry K's avatar
Jerry K wrote at 2014-06-24 16:14:09+00:00:

those who enjoy the beauty of the game will not be deterred by the brown of the fairway at #2 or distracted by the artificial 'garden aspect' of Augusta. the best courses should have 18 completely different challenges to them and these two courses offer the same degree of variation; one course to the other. while not as inexpensive as the local daily fee courses around the country at least Pinehurst is open to everyone, while Augusta epitomizes the exclusivity of the wealthy man's game. Additionally there is no controvery about who can becoem a memeber of CCA. So which one is America's course?

Tom Bedell's avatar
Tom Bedell wrote at 2014-06-24 15:54:43+00:00:

I'm tempted to say that all the pinheads who are excoriating Pinehurst No. 2--usually replete with misspellings--are displaying their ignorance (or weird political stances--that one's got to be a joke though, right?). But let's be charitable and suggest that they just haven't had the pleasure of playing links golf, and have been besotted with the artificiality of Augusta. Which is a beautiful course, no doubt, but almost like a movie set of a track. It's too perfect, and golf should be a little wild. It should be like poet Robert Herrick put it, "A sweet disorder in the dress.../ Do more bewitch me, than when art / Is too precise in every part."<br/> The frustration of having to chip from tight lies is completely removed if one simply chooses not to chip, but runs a putt from 100 feet off the green. That's the kind of creative fun one can have on a firm, fast track with openings to the green. More of a ground game, less of an aerial assault. <br/> Different strokes for different folks, of course, and even Pinehurst Resort recognizes this--it now has eight other courses to choose from--and the green and lush option is available, too. I was lucky enough to play there two years and No. 2 was the highlight. For those with me this far, I wrote up a report here:

Steve C.'s avatar
Steve C. wrote at 2014-06-24 15:28:17+00:00:

It's hard enough to play golf without trying to hit off a lousy lie in a burned-out fairway. I don't get to play them often on my budget, but a few times a year I get to play courses with lush fairways and it is SO much more enjoyable to be able to get a clean, natural hit, rather than trying to pick the ball perfectly cleanly off of burned out hardpan type lies. If "upscale" courses want to charge a premium to play on conditions you can find at the local municipal course, they're going to alienate over 90% of the golfing public.

I've played at Pinehurst before (#1, #3, and #5) and did enjoy the experience there very much. The fairways were a faded green, but the lies were usually very tight even by my usual standards (New England muni's and semi-private courses). That was in 2012, so I can't speak to current conditions.

I actually do enjoy playing bump and run golf shots, but you don't need to burn out the course to achieve that.

None's avatar
None wrote at 2014-06-24 15:27:16+00:00:

It's hard enough to play golf without trying to hit off a lousy lie in a burned-out fairway. I don't get to play them often on my budget, but a few times a year I get to play courses with lush fairways and it is SO much more enjoyable to be able to get a clean, natural hit, rather than trying to pick the ball perfectly cleanly off of burned out hardpan type lies. If "upscale" courses want to charge a premium to play on conditions you can find at the local municipal course, they're going to alienate over 90% of the golfing public.

I've played at Pinehurst before (#1, #3, and #5) and did enjoy the experience there very much. The fairways were a faded green, but the lies were usually very tight even by my usual standards (New England muni's and semi-private courses). That was in 2012, so I can't speak to current conditions.

I actually do enjoy playing bump and run golf shots, but you don't need to burn out the course to achieve that.

Bernard Bell's avatar
Bernard Bell wrote at 2014-06-24 15:22:28+00:00:

M Allen, you make no sense. Pinehurst #2 costs $400+ to play and its the emblem of socialism? You should read up on how, when and why golf came to America. There are those (including me) who think we haven't "taken it up several levels," in fact we're destroying it. And not by socialism. Here is what Alister Mackenzie had to say:

“I hope to live to see the day when there are the crowds of municipal courses, as in Scotland, cropping up all over the world…. They invariably pay, and I have never known one, unlike other municipal ventures, that was a burden on the rates and taxes of the community.”

“I left Europe to reside in America because I felt that it was only a question of time for Europe to be destroyed by socialistic propaganda and legislation. It is with a feeling of alarm that I notice in the United States the spread of similar doctrines which has led to the misery of British workers.”

“Socialism is a real danger to golf, and in fact, every other game.”

Bill S.'s avatar
Bill S. wrote at 2014-06-24 15:09:14+00:00:

I appreciate everyone's thoughts as to the "natural" beauty of Pinehurst #2, but seriously, if I wanted to look at and play a public course, I wouldn't have to go that far. Pinehurst is a great tract but the Ocean Coarse at Kiawah Island, SC has the same look with the same type of scrubby areas without looking dead. I will not pay that type of money to play a coarse that I couldn't eat off the fairways.

Mys's avatar
Mys wrote at 2014-06-24 14:58:02+00:00:

Writer makes some fabulous points. I played Pinehurst #2 last August and it was the coolest thing ever. Golf is thoroughly more enjoyable when the difficulty of the shot lies in the options/where the ball could roll versus the actual lie of the ball. I would like to bring up another point. My second favorite course in America is The Stadium @ TPC Sawgrass. Most would conclude that it falls on the "Augusta" side of things. What makes American golf great is the variety. In one state you can go from links golf to bermuda, bent grass, high rough, ocean, tree-lined whatever you want we've got. It is one of the under appreciated things about American golf and it makes, as Tim said so eloquently, "endlessly entertaining."

Rolie's avatar
Rolie wrote at 2014-06-24 14:17:18+00:00:

I like the look of Pinehurst #2. It brings out the best of golf and shot making the way gold was ment to play anyways. We have been spoiled for so long with lush courses and now it should go back to basics with less water amd make more courses more challenging for the pros and also us amateurs.

gary gill's avatar
gary gill wrote at 2014-06-24 14:12:23+00:00:

you are so wrong about #2 being in same league with Augusta National-No Way!!!

meemoo's avatar
meemoo wrote at 2014-06-24 14:12:03+00:00:

Most courses use water from their PONDS which is constantly recirculating through nature. "Save water" another environmentalists red-herring!

wes's avatar
wes wrote at 2014-06-24 14:01:33+00:00:

Nice thoughts but brown is not attractive on courses. You can be green and maintain water conservation. Augusta Masters has its place as does Pinehurst but need more green at Pinehurst.

Russ's avatar
Russ wrote at 2014-06-24 14:00:45+00:00:

The major problem with #2 is that two golfers can hit approach shots 24" apart and

One becomes a great shot and the other rolls off the green. Are we judging who

Had the best round or who was the luckiest this week.

Razar Ray's avatar
Razar Ray wrote at 2014-06-24 13:56:07+00:00:

Lets all think for a minute and get off the "green bandwagon".

Why not return to using "hickory sticks" and "featheries"...

Grow up boys... really - it's thenew mellenium

Paul Israel's avatar
Paul Israel wrote at 2014-06-24 13:51:21+00:00:

So if Pinehurst is saving so much money on water, why does it still cost $400 to play such an ugly course?

Stan's avatar
Stan wrote at 2014-06-24 13:48:25+00:00:

I think both types of courses (green and brown) should be maintained. It adds variety to the game. It's fun to stick a few wedges when you can on a lush course - the slope of such courses should be naturally more severe, allowing/necessitating softer surfaces; but wasting water only to make the course pretty is also no longer an option - except at Augusta. It's all done right there - and it's a piece of heaven to experience. No way should one consider it a norm or standard - it's beyond that.

I've played the hardpan at times to get more yardage and to use the terrain to feed the ball to the green when course design permits - love watching the ball bounce its way on and self center from the rough or hard fairway edge.

What I do not like is when they make the greens rock hard and then water the fairways so you can't bounce it on. You either plug in front of the green or get a 15 foot high bounce when you hit a high shot on to the green and end up on the back fringe to a front pin. That is poor water allocation and I've seen it too many times.

Love the hard fairways with soft greens - I think they call that "darts". It's all part of the game - like playing in the rain, cold, wind, heat. A real golfer accepts it all and learns to play through it all.

Tim Gavrich's avatar
Tim Gavrich wrote at 2014-06-24 13:45:34+00:00:


This is a groundbreaking comment. I believe it marks the first time in the history of the universe that the USGA has been accused of being a socialist organization!


M Allen's avatar
M Allen wrote at 2014-06-24 13:44:18+00:00:

Pinehurst No.2 should be re-named Dogtrack No. 1,798,327. For the tree hugging, euro worshiping, socialist snobs, to choose that course to represent the best of the United States, is unforgivable. We've taken EVERYTHING europe has ever done and taken it up several levels. Europe is a socialist, bankrupt failure, yet the pin heads in this country constantly act like they're getting it right and we're getting it wrong. Shame on the USGA!

Scott's avatar
Scott wrote at 2014-06-24 13:42:09+00:00:

I think that each course needs to make its own call. My home course's water comes from the ponds and water already on the course. It is basically free, except for the electricity to run the pumps. I do prefer firmer conditions and I wish that my course watered less. If you have limited access to water the Pinehurst model should be your goal.

The question that should be asked is why the courses need so much water? All of the chemical dependency on the courses have caused the excess water usage. I believe that with the correct blend of grass, you can keep a course green and firm without over watering. Also, you can keep the greens a bit longer and roll them to keep the speed up and water usage down. There are ways to keep courses green and reduce water - it is just like everything else - you just need to work at it.

Debra Fry's avatar
Debra Fry wrote at 2014-06-24 13:41:02+00:00:

I am proud of Pinehurst for taking that daring step that was very BOLD and Brave to make the significant changes to Course No. 2. Not every organization has that much courage to do What Is RIGHT! Just the fact that we are saving that amount of water is Reason ENOUGH to do it ---- But we all know that Donald ROSS was one Proud Man for the past 2 weeks - Smiling Down on his original and PERFECT Jewel ~ Pinehurst No. 2!

A proud Employee of 10 years

Wayneo's avatar
Wayneo wrote at 2014-06-24 13:37:04+00:00:

Apart from the bowl shaped greens which were created by design, I thought the course was absolutely stunning. Hit of the pretty green grass, or off that brown sand base. So many decisions to be made. Tough course with not a drop of water in play. It certainly brought thinking/strategy back to the game.

None's avatar
None wrote at 2014-06-24 13:36:31+00:00:

do you think that the "brown" and "naural" look made it easier to host two back to back 0pens? if the fairways were lush, i think that the play from the mens open, may have torn up the fairways too much for the women. i loved both opens at the same venue, and watching how both the women and the men handled the course, but it would not have been very fair if lush green fairways were all full of divots for the women.

Don's avatar
Don wrote at 2014-06-24 13:35:47+00:00:

I can only hope that more course designers, and owners, emulate what Coore and Crenshaw did at Pinehurst Number 2. As George Peper and Malcolm Campbell point out in their terrific book, "True Links" , the movement towards the development of links-like courses, with the attendant savings on construction costs, maintenance costs, and water, could be the salvation of golf.

Besides that, having played 131 of the 246 "True Links" courses in the world, I can tell you from personal experience that playing them, rather than courses groomed like Augusta National, is way more fun.

Rob's avatar
Rob wrote at 2014-06-24 13:30:17+00:00:

I totally agree with your thoughts in the vast majority of cases. I do, however, think there are exceptions. I play at a club in Colorado that is short (6656 from the tips) and land locked. Keeping the fairways soft and lush effectively adds yards and makes it more challenging for the younger, long hitters. I must say, however, that our Superintendent waaaay over does it. There are many downright soggy spots in the fairways and there are several areas in front of greens that feel like you're walking on Jello.

I've played #2 several times and love the new/old look. Maybe the USGA is turning over a new leaf and is realizing that sticky, 4" rough isn't the only way to toughen up a championship course.

Dave's avatar
Dave wrote at 2014-06-24 13:28:19+00:00:

As the number of golfers and rounds played have continued to drop the golf industry has tried every thing stem that tide. Maybe by going "pinehurst" golf course operators will be able to lower their costs and pass the savings on to the golfers. Of course the course owners could put their maintenance savings in their pockets, but then the down hill spiral of fewer rounds played would continue.

I'm fortunate to be able to play with some old timers here in the Mid-Atlantic who recall the old days before extensive irrigation and fertilization programs became the norm. Most golf courses were green and soft in the spring, dry as toast during the summer and enjoyable in the fall. Imagine that, three different types of playing conditions from one golf course.

Tim Gavrich's avatar
Tim Gavrich wrote at 2014-06-24 13:26:39+00:00:


Your comment hits upon perhaps the most under-covered aspect of Pinehurst No. 2's evolution, which is the fact that many of the greens do probably sit up more than Donald Ross intended. Decades of sand deposits by way of top-dressing have almost certainly raised parts of them a foot or more higher than Ross probably envisioned.

Nevertheless, I wonder about your contention that a ball that lands in the middle of a green should stay on the green. As firm as the USGA gets putting surfaces for U.S. Opens, it becomes imperative to land approach shots on the fronts of greens or even short of the front edge, because players have to allow for some run-out. I think that's something that should be tested, because it forces players to control their trajectory and play for some roll, rather than just fly the ball to the hole and get it to dance.

Also, keep in mind that when you next play Pinehurst No. 2, the conditions you face will be less extreme than the pros faced. The greens won't be quite as firm and they'll be a little slower. So will the approaches and chipping areas. While poorly placed shots will still roll away, I don't think that "25 yards" number you cited will come into play as often.


Paul's avatar
Paul wrote at 2014-06-24 13:25:17+00:00:

I agree that Augusta's budget is ridiculous, but I am not buying this argument. I would not want all courses to be like Augusta, but I am so glad the USA has an Augusta. It is so gorgeous and it exudes springtime. As Boby Jones said, golf should be fun and above all it should be a great walk. Augusta is both of these things. It is not Augusta's fault if the rest of the courses want to try to emulate it.

Moreover, it is not the browns of Pinehurst that I disliked. Rather, Pinehurst seemed contrived. Shots that landed in the middle of the greens should not consistently run off the green. Once in a while, yes, but consistently, no. It is not natural to cut the fringes around the greens so low that balls end up 25 yards from where they landed. That is just as artificial as watering.

Augusta has more elevation changes and awkward lies that test everyone's game to the max. It has more strategically placed water hazards and creeks than Pinehurst.

Ask any American, if they had one more round to play in his or her life, would it be Pinehurst No. 2. I think not. It would be Pebble Beach, Cypress Point or Augusta, way before Pinehurst.

Augusta, as a club, should be more inclusive and that bothers me, but as far as courses go, there is no real contest. Augusta gets an A+; Pinehurst gets a B+. Paul

Dr. Golf's avatar
Dr. Golf wrote at 2014-06-24 13:21:01+00:00:

THANK YOU for saying in print what I have been saying for years: Americans have been trained to think the greener and more lush the park-style course (whether on the east coast or in a desert), the better. I have NEVER shared that point of view. But then again, as a gold traditionalist, I love seaside golf whether in the US, UK or elsewhere. Frankly I am tired of the pretentious and historically ignorant folks (Hey Trump, stick to urban real estate rather than golf and simpleton politics) thinking they know what's "American" when it comes to golf.... or anything else.

It's about time America goes back to the roots of golf and turns away from artificially-doctored and overly-manicured (not to mention expensive and a waste of a precious resource) golf!

Joe La Piazza's avatar
Joe La Piazza wrote at 2014-06-24 13:11:03+00:00:

I entirely agree with your article and not just because I live and play my golf in Scotland where we are 'spoiled' with so many links-style courses.

Your environmental points are extremely valid and important but also the Pinehurst no2 course also demands a greater diversity of shot-making than say Augusta and this makes the tournament more entertaining for the spectators.

ralph zamarippa's avatar
ralph zamarippa wrote at 2014-06-24 13:01:27+00:00:

When you say brown, thin, and fast, you could easily be describing many if not most of West Texas golf courses.You'll have to get a map to see the location of these courses. A lot of them border or are in the Sonoran Desert region. To name a few, which are mostly nine hole golf courses are, Marfa, Alpine, Ft. Stockton, Van Horn, Iraan, Big Lake and San Angelo. The public courses don't share the luxury of the country clubs, which are highly manicured. There are a few that rival the country clubs, and these are the less expensive to play which still offer all a course provides, be it private or public.

Pat's avatar
Pat wrote at 2014-06-24 12:55:45+00:00:

I agree with you.... ! Brown and tight is far more interesting to play than green and soggy. Our home course is a combination. A public course with a small budget, the maintenance crew relies more on the weather than the sprinkler system to keep the course looking great.

M. A. Hattenhauer's avatar
M. A. Hattenhauer wrote at 2014-06-24 12:51:54+00:00:

What are you smoking? Brown was a popular color for cars in the seventies, ugly then and crazy boy.

Joseph Mexas's avatar
Joseph Mexas wrote at 2014-06-24 12:47:30+00:00:

I agree, golf courses should be played like the traditional courses in Saint Andrew. And, what's this crap I keep hearing that some people think the size of the cup should be bigger! What are these people thing? What are trying to do?

Alan Hawkins's avatar
Alan Hawkins wrote at 2014-06-24 12:42:46+00:00:

Variety is the most important point as we want each course to have its individual characteristics which is why we love travelling to play different course from links through to parkland designs. They offer different challenges and force you to improvise using all the clubs in your bag.

DAVID SCHUSTER wrote at 2014-06-24 12:32:42+00:00:

yes Augusta is a very beautiful course, but they have taken some of the skill out or the game.What i mean is if you can hit the fairway your ball is sitting up nice and looks like its just waiting to be hit to the green. As opposed to Pinehurst were you don't know where your shot will end up. Now you have to have to think, how do i hit this shot,and the wrong choice of club will get you in a whole bunch of trouble. It's a thinking kind of course.

John Bertelsen's avatar
John Bertelsen wrote at 2014-06-24 12:29:32+00:00:

As long as there is a lie that's not hard pan in the fairway, brown is fine. I definitely agree that aprons and collars are too wet. Run ups are a major part of an amateurs game. Make it playable before pristine looking.

Ron Wettlaufer's avatar
Ron Wettlaufer wrote at 2014-06-24 12:25:27+00:00:

Am Dual Citizen- Canada/USA -Retired ! Love Golf To Play &amp; Watch !

Have Played In Scotland and Fully Enjoyed The Mentioned Tournament..

Mainly Due to The Condition Of The Course ...Tough But Fair ..As Golf

Should Be ! Less Attention To Manicuring Everything !

Also .. Keep In Mind ...That To-Day GOLF Has Become More Than A SPORT

But An OCCUPATION As Well ..Encompassing Ever Improving Equipment .

And Golf Instruction ...ALL @ More Cost ...$$$$$ &amp; TIME !!

Still More Enjoyable Than Other Entertainment Venues And Clean !!

Tom Engel's avatar
Tom Engel wrote at 2014-06-24 12:25:13+00:00:

I thought the course looked like crap. If I want to play a course with burned out fairways, I can play courses here in Houston for $20. The native areas were fine, but tight lies to chip to greens like that are basically impossible for almost all players. The USGA and your publication pushing turning US golf courses into European golf courses is also BS. If I want to play a browned out, wind blown courses, I will go to England, Scotland, or Ireland. With all the course maintenance savings have the green fees been reduced at Pinehurst? Not a chance as long as CCA has anything to do with the operation. I do want to thank the USGA and NBC for saving me a few thousand dollars, I was planning a trip to Pinehurst next year. I for one would not pay $300+ to play a course that difficult, in that condition. I have been playing golf for over 50 years, long before golf became so popular and even back then, the GOOD courses had green tee boxes, fairways, rough, and greens as today, the cheap munis didn't.

Randy Wolf's avatar
Randy Wolf wrote at 2014-06-24 12:16:39+00:00:

Brown is not necessarily the new green. It greatly depends on the design of golf course. Yes there are many golf courses that this browning could be applied to. However many golf course have been built without the ability to hit bump and run shots but are designed for the high ball trajectory shot. It is always great to be able to reduce watering and maintenance cost. Nevertheless it will ultimately come down to the type and design of the golf course and the members who play there.

Darren Zietweist's avatar
Darren Zietweist wrote at 2014-06-24 12:15:38+00:00:

Augusta was never supposed to look like it does now. The designer Mackenzie would be really unhappy if e saw how it looks today. The Masters just isn't the tournament it used to be because the ball just doesn't roll any more. I would like to see Augusta as it was always supposed to be.

Art Livermore's avatar
Art Livermore wrote at 2014-06-24 12:11:53+00:00:

As I walked among the pines at Pinehurst #2 this year, the lack of green didn't bother me and the fact no two courses are alike make the game what it is...different tracks with different conditions and challenges. Most golfers like to test their skills against varying layouts.

I certainly get the argument of the two styles. I've seen the beauty of Augusta...walked along the lush green meadows in attempt to find blemishes, finding none and treading through pines with pine needles seemingly placed just so to make it even appear more beautiful. But, I also recognize this is accomplished at a price that far exceeds anything most golf clubs can afford.

I don't ever recall saying to a pro or golf course superintendent of courses I've been member of...make this like Augusta. Playability is the key to success, with looks important but, not all important...if a course is made to appeal to the eye and challenge golfers at all levels while giving them fair opportunity to enjoy themselves...they will come.

Make courses too tough or too expensive and only a few will return for another try at it. Seems sometimes many places get tied in knots about making courses appeal to only the best golfers in the world. Such places don't appeal to the average or below average player which are far more numerous. There simply are too many good choices in most areas that are reasonable in price and style to want to attempt to attack a monster that will make you matter how beautiful.

Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I see beauty in both venues but, there is no doubt what I saw at Pinehurst #2 is much easier and less expensive to maintain which should drive the cost of playing down. Something tells won't.

As far as the layout at Pinehurst #2, it appeared to be native and native certainly wasn't a bad thing.

Iain Harkess's avatar
Iain Harkess wrote at 2014-06-24 12:11:14+00:00:

I walked Augusta for the first time at this year'Masters. It was a real treat to be there and to see such an immaculate course and with all the rise and fall that makes it so daunting for the amateur. I moved to play Pinehurst the very next day and what a shock!

A very pleasant shock as it looked stunning but in a very different way to the immaculately groomed Augusta. As an artist I thought here is a course that echoes the wildness of the early days of golf. Having played it the visual value did not wear off but was enhanced by the refinement of the greens area. It was fun, frustrating, challenging and visually varied and exciting -what more should a great golf course provide? I loved it and in many ways thought it a better reflection of our golfing heritage than Augusta and wish more, even in the UK, could be like PInehurst No2. That's not to say that there is no place for the impressive Augusta but rather that It is a one -off. I hope that it is Pinehurst rather than Augusta that becomes the yardstick by which we judge the design value of our courses in the future .

Paul Gray's avatar
Paul Gray wrote at 2014-06-24 12:10:40+00:00:

Excellent article, Tim. From one architecture aficionado to another, it's high time the message got out to the general golfing masses that firm, fast and, yes, brown (ignore what anyone says about firm and green) is the way to make the game far more enjoyable and far more creative. Tiger winning at Hoylake in 2006 is a perfect example of that. People just need to be educated to this.

David's avatar
David wrote at 2014-06-24 12:04:54+00:00:

As a Scot I agree completely. Though I was stunned by the attention to detail the first time I was a patron at Augusta I feel the Pinehurst No2 represents a much more interesting challenge. I have always believed that golf should have an element of unpredictability apart from impossible greens. To watch the ball which was not perfectly directed race off the fairway was ensuring that the best golfers will triumph at Pinehurst.

Rick's avatar
Rick wrote at 2014-06-24 12:04:53+00:00:

This philosophy of more natural and back to "the home of golf" course design may work fine at Pinehurst #2 as they have the budget to ensure the native areas are actually well designed and well maintained to fit the design.

Unfortunately at most courses including my home course where in the name of saving water and money they will neglect these "natural" areas resulting in such nasty waste areas that most amateurs will spend an extreme amount of wasted time searching for lost balls or hacking around trying to get out.

For the pros this is fine, they play in those areas probably 90% less than most amateurs and have crowds of fans and TV cameras to locate their balls.

At a time when slow play and incentives to keep people playing making courses more difficult to play may not be in the best interest of the game overall.

As for the U.S. Open there are two sides of the argument, one is yes being like the home of golf and links style Golf takes it back to its roots and is nostalgic. The other is that the U.S. Open shouldn't change what it does best and is known for; represent United States and US Open style golf. The fact is golf has evolved and the United States and our courses are different and should not be like British style courses, that's for the British Open.

MJ's avatar
MJ wrote at 2014-06-24 12:03:41+00:00:

Seriously? Sorry, but I was at the US Open and Women's Open for a total of 6 days. The course looks NOTHING like your picture above. The "rough" is full of weeds and the wire grass is barely alive,…there must be 10X more weeds than wire grass and the sandy soil is very uneven, soft in some areas….like walking on a beach,….hard packed in other areas. It is not attractive, not easy to walk on,…generally a mess. I must have spoken with well over 50 people,…at least 3 who have played it in the last 6 months and no one liked their experience. This may be a gem for those in the elite golf circles…as you all yearn for a true Donald Ross original design. I get that…you are golf historians. However, we are the golfing public and we want to experience a pleasant golfing experience where we can enjoy our 4 or 5 or 6 (God forbid!) hours that it takes to complete a round these days. I predict that Pinehurst will have a hard time getting people to come back for a second or third round. Some people may want to try it….to experience the "original" design,…but no one I have spoken with enjoyed that experience. The green complexes are difficult enough….but with weeds, pine cones and general junk in the "rough"….it is just a miserable 5 hour journey. Pinehurst needs to clean up that rough….get more of the native grasses in,…to make it really look presentable and worth the $450 they charge you. If they don't,…they will just have to rely on revenues from play on #4, #6, #7 and #8. #6 is hard to get out on,…but it is a nice layout and also a Ross design….of course. Pinehurst as a resort is a great location for a golf trip…but I'll predict fewer people will be impressed with #2 and more will enjoy the other layouts they offer which are significant. Just as The Dormie Club (the local course also built by Crenshaw) is struggling to survive….the same reaction to #2 will be seen. Look at the history of The Dormie Club and you will understand why #2 will struggle. Few want to play those conditions on a regular basis.

Frank Johnson's avatar
Frank Johnson wrote at 2014-06-24 11:55:55+00:00:

Agree completely with the article. What I have not heard much about is the less than perfect treatment of patrons. I have attended many professional golf tournaments. With the exception of handing out free water, the patron experience was my worst. Viewing areas were too far away, from fairways to greens. Cell phones everywhere, but were supposedly banned. And Marshall's did nothing to control their use. Take a look at the gallery on Martin K's winning putt. Cell phones everywhere taking pictures. The walking distance from the bus drop off to get into the grounds was longer than most. And finally, for those of us at 18 for the Ladies final round; you had to walk back to the tee box to cross rather than use the crossing midway up the fairway. There is no way that crossing at the established mid fairway crossing would have interfered with the closing presentations. I could go on, but give me the outstanding treatment at a PGA event like Quail Hollow over the USGA.

Fran's avatar
Fran wrote at 2014-06-24 11:46:58+00:00:

I thought Pinehurst looked great! I loved the sand and the brown links like look to the grass. But as much as I liked it it played easier than the course did when the rough was along the fairways. But it did have a Pine Valley-ish look to it. I would like to see more unpolished, unfinished looking courses on the PGA tour. These guys are soooooooo spoiled with short rough and wide fairways with double rolled greens. I'd like to see the pros a little or better yet alot more stressed over their shots.

Ludovico Rangoni-Machiavelli's avatar
Ludovico Rangoni-Machiavelli wrote at 2014-06-24 11:46:56+00:00:

What do you think a long standing member of the R&amp;A and Pine Valkey reaction could be to the fantastic change introduced at Pinehurst 2 by Coore and Crenshw? When it was explained at the TV, I said to my wife: fantastic. If you think, alsowhen last played, Shinnecock was almost in these pristine conditions. They stop the so called "target golf" and the players are forced to think about the inflence of every shot on the next and not only booming 350yardsplus tee shots and then scramble birdies or eagles like Mickelson from the trees at Augusta. As we say in Italy: EVVIVA!

Tom Arnett's avatar
Tom Arnett wrote at 2014-06-24 11:46:03+00:00:

Very good point, but for those of us who water our yards, pull our weeds, and manicure our gardens , there is something special about Augusta National. Given the choice to play, I'm fairly confident 100% of most golfers would rather play Augusta. Luckily I was able to watch both tournaments live this year. I'd chose the rolling hills, plush fairways, and tough but rewarding greens of Augusta over the flat, hard pan, and silly greens of Pinehurst everyday. Another note, I thought Pinehurst was a terrible place to watch an open. The vast wastelands kept the spectators far from the players. Also, the majority of the terrain is flat, until you get to the elevated greens. Then, you couldn't see what was happening unless the ball and hole were on your side of the "turtle shell".

Augusta before Pinehurst in a rout more than Kaymer provided!

Ken Bagwell's avatar
Ken Bagwell wrote at 2014-06-24 11:44:24+00:00:

Ok....I "getit", I really do, but Sorry- in my was TOO brown. Dirt and dust flying everywher and from the middle of the fairway. The native arer (ok - let's call it what it really is - weeds) looked kinda cool. Suggestion: stay out of it!.

BUT... I will never pay $400+ to play this vast waste area know as #2. local muny has plenty of dirt, weeds, run offs that I can play for $30 + cart fee.

Suggestion......increase water usage to half of the 55m gal. Not 27%. it up a little.


Tom's avatar
Tom wrote at 2014-06-24 11:39:36+00:00:


Dear Sir,

You are a front runner in our age. I'm with you all the way. Cut water usage and make the green affordable to public. I do not have experience to play the best courses ( rank 1 ~ 20 by Golf Digest) but I follow your direction. Run for a public seat! You got my vote. Thanks you so much.



Morton Levine's avatar
Morton Levine wrote at 2014-06-24 11:38:48+00:00:

I would prefer to see the tour play on courses like Pinehurst 2, but when it comes to my play give me Augusta quality care and save my sanity and desire to play.

allan's avatar
allan wrote at 2014-06-24 11:38:24+00:00:

I'm with you, down with brown.

Michael Ex-Navy's avatar
Michael Ex-Navy wrote at 2014-06-24 11:34:27+00:00:

I found the course to be ugly and unkempt, I usually watch championship tourneys from start to finish but not this time, I like them green and lush, If all courses looked like Pinehurst #2 I would give up the game!

jed DuBreuil's avatar
jed DuBreuil wrote at 2014-06-24 11:28:12+00:00:

Well.....I was there and worked 4 days as a volunteer and spent free time walking the course and following play. Have played #2 many times over the years and Pinehurst has always been the highlight of golfing get-aways. we are boasting about the water savings etc. etc. Is this going to translate in to a reduced cost to the customer? The expense of golf is killing play ($450 green fee - you are out of your minds) and (not to mention all the other issues like courses design (out of control), slow play (management apathy), and the list goes on. The changes on #2 are wonderful but Crenshaw can take all the bows he wants but if it doesn't move the game toward affordability (for starters) then the rich and famous will be the only benefactors and we can once again return the game of golf to an exclusive rich mans sport. Get it? Tiime to get serious about making the game available to more for less as opposed to Crenshaw and others trying to impress us with their hobby joy. Nothing personal against them but it's time to step up to the issues of golfs demise and continue to make changes for the right reasons for the good of the game.

Bill Riddle's avatar
Bill Riddle wrote at 2014-06-24 11:27:04+00:00:

The new brown, many of us have been enjoying this state of golf being since we don't have access to the ultra-chic private clubs to play golf on a daily basis. Public access courses with limited budgets have had to make do with this new brown for a long time. The quality of golf experience that they provide can and is still there. As we continue to see the demands on our golfing budgets we will more and more embrace what we saw at these past two opens.

Geert_Jan Bakker's avatar
Geert_Jan Bakker wrote at 2014-06-24 11:19:20+00:00:

Hi Tim,

I fully agree with you. Completely green fairways in the midst of summer do not look real.

And going from 55 million gallons (208 million liter) to 15 million (57 million liter) is impressive and very necessary if golfcourses want to be able to at least us some water on especially greens and tees.

Dean Wood's avatar
Dean Wood wrote at 2014-06-24 11:16:58+00:00:

If I must play from now forward on courses that look like Pinehurst No 2, I will quit playing golf. And I suspect that the majority of golfers feel likewise.

JAMES's avatar
JAMES wrote at 2014-06-24 11:15:26+00:00:

Worst golf major event I have ever been to wished I could get my money back. Only want to spend money to see great golfers play on the best courses that was clearly not one of them !!!! Tell Ben to stick to playing golf PLEASE!!!!

Doug Roberts's avatar
Doug Roberts wrote at 2014-06-24 11:13:26+00:00:

Given the logic expressed here I might say there are over 100 courses in the British Isles better than Augusta....And many with more charm than Pinehurst....Especially if we allow a stout architectural team to go in and spend millions renovating...

Garden Eggleston's avatar
Garden Eggleston wrote at 2014-06-24 11:10:05+00:00:

A big fan of less water and more brown -grew up playing by feel and shotmaking is less an art now with pros tossing darts to a number -let them play like most of the old guys (like me learned) with skill and imagination instead of pounding balls to a number

Tim Gavrich

Senior Writer

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for Golf Advisor and the Managing Editor of the Golf Vacation Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.