Bermuda rough might have given Open more drama
Posted June 16
There will be lots of time over the coming weeks and months for the USGA and Pinehurst Resort folks to bask in their historic venture during the June of 2014.
There’s also be lot of time for the two parties to reflect on what worked and what may not have worked so well during the back-to-back men’s and women’s U.S. Opens on the No. 2 Course.
One point the Pinehurst group will almost certainly address is the wisdom of making such a sweeping commitment to restoring the famed course to its look and playing conditions in the 1920s and ’30.
When the Resort management brought in Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore to “go back to the future”, the decision also was made to go the route of Texas Hold ‘Em – all in.
What the golf world got was one of the strangest courses in major golf history. A course without water hazards was stripped of the thick Bermuda grass rough that’s found on almost all courses in the South during warm weather.
The Bermuda rough was replaced by other native grasses and great expanses of sand. The thinking being that the clumps of wire grass and uneven sand stretches would serve as punitive measures for errant tee shots.
In the most general sense, that just didn’t happen. Most of the shots that missed fairways were quickly converted in successful recoveries.
It was the latest reminder of how much equipment and player conditioning have changed golf on the PGA Tour. It was a case of 1930s rough versus 2015 technology. En route to runaway victory, Martin Kaymer certainly outplayed everyone else and deserved everything he got on Sunday.
It was truly a remarkable performance but there was no drama whatsoever after Kaymer’s 65s on Thursday and Friday.
Without water and deep rough, No. 2 had only one defense – the putting greens that were essentially left as they were for the eventful 1999 and 2005 Opens.
The difficult pin placements on Saturday and Sunday made it all but impossible for anyone to mount a charge at Kaymer and since there was little chance for him to get into deep danger off the tees, the 114th Open was turned into a two-putt derby.
The tournament was memorable but not in the usual definition of the word. While No. 2 was visually stunning at times, I don’t think there’s a chance in the world that Merion, Oakmont, Shinnecock Hills, Baltusrol, etc. will jump into the retro revival.
In retrospect, maybe the Pinehurst group should have given some thought to an abbreviated 1930s restoration venture by going “native” on the par-3s and par-5s but sticking with the Bermuda rough on most of the par-4s.
There will be ample time to sort out any fine-tuning options before 2022 and ‘23, when the Open could possibly return.
It’s for sure that Pinehurst deserves a fourth Open. The organization, traffic management and hospitality are and have always been exceptional.
It’s a special place that should be deemed sacred to the sport and its history forever. So long live No. 2 and its spot in the Open rotation. But maybe live long with a little more Bermuda rough.