No. 2: ‘It’s brown, and it’s fabulous’

A beaming Bill Coore walks a few holes of No. 2 and finds it exactly as he and Ben Crenshaw envisioned

By LEE PACE

Bill Coore received a text message from USGA Executive Director Mike Davis over the weekend. “It’s brown, it’s fabulous,” Davis said.

“And he wrote it in all capitals,” Coore says.

Coore found out for himself Monday morning on a quick stroll around three holes of No. 2 between media interviews. What began more than four years ago as a project to restore the width, bounciness and natural ambiance of Donald Ross’s design has now come to its ultimate curtain call: The National Open in three days.

“Golf was meant to be played in nature—not in a pristine garden.” – Bill Coore

“It’s certainly the most dramatically different presentation of championship golf we’ve seen in many years,” Coore said, looking at the burnished fairways and kaleidoscope of colors, textures and plant life in the native rough areas. “This look is more in keeping with the origins of the game. Golf was meant to be played in nature—not in a pristine garden. It will be interesting to see these next two weeks how that comes across.”

Though the weather forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms throughout the week, at least on Monday the fairways are taut and the edges evolve from various shades of green in the middle to brown tints along the edges. That was a look Coore and design partner Ben Crenshaw listed as a priority during their 2010-12 restoration of the course.

“It looks so fantastic, the way the fairways bleed from the bright green to brown to all the different shades of brown,” Coore says. “They’re green where they’re supposed to be green. If we get some rain, the rest of it will green-up some. That’s fine. That’s natural. If Mother Nature wants to green the course up, okay. But it’s not manufactured.”

“If Mother Nature wants to green the course up, okay. But it’s not manufactured.” – Bill Coore

Coore pauses by the huge, gnarly bunker along the right side of the 18th fairway, a hazard that Coore has said from the beginning of the restoration is the “best looking” bunker on the course.

“Gosh, that turned out well,” he said. “We thought about trying to move it up the fairway, but that would have been a mistake. It looks so natural and so weathered. It would have been impossible to replicate it.

“I agree with Mike—it’s fabulous,” Coore said.

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