Ron Sirak at Golf Digest broke the news on Saturday evening that it is likely the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open will be played in back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst No. 2. It will mark the first time in history that two national championships would be held at the same venue in consecutive weeks. Sources say that the USGA is waiting for approval on one issue that should be resolved by Monday and a formal announcement is planned for Wednesday at Bethpage Black.
According to sources, to hold both Opens on the same venue on consecutive weeks will be both a publicity grabber and cost efficient. The USGA will be able to leave its infrastructure in place — scoreboards, bleachers, hospitality facilities — and the network televising the events can leave its cable and cameras in place.
I love the idea – for the reasons listed above. It’ll draw larger crowds for both the men and women. TV ratings for both events will probably be higher as well. The buzz will be huge and it’ll grab more exposure, especially for the women. During the U.S. Open, they’ll talk about the Women’s Open the following week and compare how the course will set-up.
But the downside will be that the course and practice facilities will be ripped up for the women, particularly the greens. And they wouldn’t be able to get there earlier than Monday. For a major championship, most players like to arrive earlier to prepare and play extra practice rounds.
At the same time, I’m sure the USGA will consider these issues and accomodate as much as possible. Since there are seven other courses at Pinehurst, they could arrange for a chipping area and putting green, etc, where conditions would be similar to No. 2.
This statement from one source really irked me.
With the men’s event held first, the USGA will be able to widen the fairways, trim the rough and slow the greens for the women if they desire.
That’s not patronizing, nor ignorant. No, not at all. I mean, seriously? The ladies hit it straighter than the men and they can handle hitting out of the long rough. The part about slowing the greens makes no sense to me. Women can’t putt on fast greens? Last time I checked that’s not a problem.
I doubt the USGA will make those adjustments and the course will play relatively similar, with the exception of the yardage. There’s still five years to work out logistics.
Overall, I think it’ll be great for the sport. I’m looking forward to the experiment – that is, if it happens, but sounds like the probability is high. And the best part? The women will have the opportunity to compete at a big-time venue, which is rare. But it’s about time!