SBD/June 11, 2014/Events and Attractions

Pinehurst No. 2 Course In For Big Two Weeks As USGA Looks To Pull Off Double U.S. Opens

Pinehurst expects galleries for this week's tourney to peak at about 55,000
The U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort No. 2 over the next two weeks "may seem like everything is oversized with meaning and purpose," but the back-to-back men's and women's golf tournaments "are unique and will likely never be repeated," according to Ted Natt Jr. of the Southern Pines PILOT. Galleries "will be larger, and the television coverage nearly around-the-clock" for the events, which are being held ""in consecutive weeks for the first time." USGA Exec Dir Mike Davis: "The entire organization -- from those involved in course setup to our outside-the-ropes team -- has prepared to deliver an exceptional two-week celebration of golf." Pinehurst Resort President & COO Don Padgett II: "It's better than we could have hoped for. The golf course has been positively received by the players, media and everyone else. The early returns are in. The only thing left is the final exam." Of the 6,200 total volunteers, 75% are "working both weeks" (Southern Pines PILOT, 6/11).

TWO OF A KIND: GLOBAL GOLF POST's Steve Eubanks wrote Pinehurst "is one of the few U.S. Open venues where that kind of two-for-one package works." The infrastructure inside and outside the resort "accommodates the transition from one tournament to the next while a corps of golf-savvy volunteers stands ready to work the entire 14 days." USGA Senior Dir of U.S. Open Championships Reg Jones: "That was probably the biggest question we had during the vetting process. Could we get enough volunteers (for two weeks)? Nobody knew. But thankfully we have a very professional group in Pinehurst that has worked many events in the past." Eubanks noted the USGA "would have been happy" if 25% of the volunteers signed up for both weeks and "ecstatic" if they got 35% to commit. While the USGA "won’t issue exact numbers, galleries at the U.S. Open should peak at about 55,000 while a good U.S. Women’s Open will attract 25- to 30,000 on its best day." Jones’ job is to "make sure that the place doesn’t look empty when, in fact, a large number of fans have come out to watch the women." Jones: "The difference in the two weeks will be visible. We made our facilities and operations scalable (but) logistically, the site is as good as it gets when it comes to transportation and the overall fan experience" (GLOBALGOLFPOST.com, 6/7). Jones: "This is our biggest site. In 2005, we had over 325,000 people for the week. That’s still the record for the biggest crowd. And all of our tickets are bar-coded and scanned, so that’s a real number" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 6/8).

GOOD MOVE OR BAD? A GOLF magazine roundtable discussed back-to-back U.S. Opens being played at the same venue. SI's Gary Van Sickle: "No matter how the events turn out, it’s already a success. We’ve spent more time discussing the Women’s Open than ever. For sheer exposure, it’s brilliant." SI's Alan Shupnick: "If you ask LPGA players to name the best tournaments they’ve ever been part of, they’ll say the Open at Oakmont or the British Open at St. Andrews. When they get to play the iconic courses, it elevates the tournament. We feel it, they feel it, and the viewers at home feel it." An anonymous golfer said, "The only way it’ll be a disaster is if the men are playing Monday because of weather or a playoff. The USGA should’ve had the Women’s Open run from Friday through Monday just to build an extra day into the schedule. Let the women finish on Monday. That way they won’t be on TV against baseball or men’s golf" (GOLF magazine, 6/9 issue). Former USTA CEO Arlen Kantarian: "It's a bold move and a clever move by the USGA. ... You can't buy the kind of buildup that they'll have this year for the women's event" (GOLF magazine, 6/9 issue). Golf Channel's Frank Nobilo: "I hope it's a success. In some respects, what we'll learn is that golf should be able to be played by everybody. If, at the end of the two weeks, that's what comes out of it, we're all better for it" ("Live From the U.S. Open," Golf Channel, 6/9).

PERFECTION NOT NECESSARY: The AP's Doug Ferguson noted the USGA "has been preaching in recent years to get away from the idea that golf courses have to be perfectly manicured to be great." Pinehurst No. 2, which "went through a gutsy project to restore it to its natural look from yesteryear," and "perhaps Chambers Bay next year outside Seattle, allows a chance to show the golfing public what it means." The restoration project "involved removing some 35 acres of sod and keeping only 450 of the 1,150 sprinkler heads," which allowed water use to go down an estimated 40%. Pinehurst No. 2 "effectively presents the opposite perception of Augusta National." Course superintendents for years "have complained that too many courses wanted to be just like the home of the Masters in the quality -- near perfection -- of the conditions." Golfer Geoff Ogilvy: "Hopefully, this sets a precedent. If Augusta has been the model everyone followed, hopefully this shows that it doesn't have to be that way to be great" (AP, 6/9).

LOOKING FOR SOME EXCITEMENT
: In N.Y., George Willis wrote the golf season "has been pretty much a dud this year." Bubba Watson winning his second Masters and finishing third at The Memorial "isn’t exactly going to move the needle in a sports world that has been focused on Donald Sterling, the NBA playoffs, hockey and a potential Triple Crown winner." It is June, and it "really doesn’t feel like the golf season is being taken seriously." That is why the '14 U.S. Open at Pinehurst "needs the kind of dramatic finish like it had" in '99 and nearly had in '05. What golf "can’t afford at this year’s U.S. Open is another snoozer like the Masters." Meanwhile, the star of the U.S. Open "is not a player, but the golf course." Pinehurst No. 2 "has the mix of history ... and a freshness" after a $2.5M restoration "that removed the turf rough and replaced it with sand waste, wiry grass and pine straw" (N.Y. POST, 6/10).
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