Donald Ross believed in providing golfers with strategic choices, and Pinehurst No. 2 was intended to epitomize that philosophy. In March 2011, No. 2 reopened following a year-long restoration project designed to restore the course’s natural and historic character, and the strategic options that were the centerpiece of Ross’s vision. The $2.5 million project was conducted by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and included work on every hole. Features of the project include:
Increase fairway widths Fairways were widened by as much as 50%, offering more strategic options in playing holes from tee to green.
Removal of rough All rough was eliminated, establishing two heights of grass: greens and everything else.
Reintroduction of natural areas 35 acres of irrigated turf were removed, restoring natural areas of sand, wire grass, pine straw and a variety of native grasses.
Turf maintenance 650 irrigation heads were eliminated, and the centerline irrigation was restored.
Wiregrass More than 200,000 plants were added
Overseeding Eliminated during the winter months, allowing for firm, fast conditions throughout the year
Increased length Thirteen new tees were added to the championship course, increasing the total championship length by more than 300 yards, to 7,565 from 7,214.
Bunker modifications Several bunkers were restored, eliminated or reshaped based on aerial images of the course from the 1940s, and bunkers were edged to create rustic appearance
Greens Only two (15 and 17) were modified slightly to increase hole locations.
Cart paths Relocated and concrete removed.
Following are detailed, hole-by-hole modifications:
Par 4 Yardage: 402 New tee: No
There are more options off the tee, and the removal of turf on the right, left and behind the green brings more natural areas into play. Specific changes include:
Added mound to the right of the fairway, about 300 yards from the tee
Created visual backdrop by adding a sandy wiregrass mound behind the green and left of the second tee
Removed turf behind the green to bring sand, pine needles and wiregrass into play
Ben Crenshaw was a 15-year-old growing up in Texas when his father gave him Charles Price’s 1962 book, The World of Golf, a 308-page treatise to the game’s venues, champions, implements and traditions that covered six centuries in words and pictures.
Crenshaw adored the game and was quite good at it, but so far his universe extended only as far as the out-of-bounds stakes at Austin Country Club and the local municipal course.
“I couldn’t have cut my teeth on a better book.” – Ben Crenshaw
“I couldn’t have cut my teeth on a better book,” Crenshaw says. “It has a little bit about everything. When I first read that book, I began to understand the rich history and colorful stars of the game of golf.”
Soon after, Charlie Crenshaw suggested to Ben that he enter the 1968 U.S. Junior Amateur, scheduled for The Country Club in the Boston suburb of Brookline. Ben lost in the quarterfinals but had a mesmerizing week — “The ground was so perfect, I was scared to take a divot,” he says — and the experience ignited a magical circle that ended in 1999 when Crenshaw captained the U.S. Ryder Cup team to its memorable final-day rally at The Country Club.
“It was perfectly natural. It was so history laden. You had to ask yourself: ‘Why? Who put this together? Who started this? Who nurtured it?'” -Ben Crenshaw
“I couldn’t have been luckier to see Brookline early on, when I was so young,” Crenshaw says. “It was rustic, it was New England, it seemed like the other side of the world from Austin, Texas. It was perfectly natural. It was so history laden. You had to ask yourself: ‘Why? Who put this together? Who started this? Who nurtured it?’ There was so much romance about it, and then I learned about it being one of the founding clubs of the USGA and the place where Francis Ouimet won the Open.
“Together, Charley Price’s book and my trip to Brookline set me off on a path I’ve enjoyed the rest of my life. They opened my eyes to a different world.”
“There’s nothing like it, nothing like it in the world.”
Ben Crenshaw has seen thousands of golf courses around the globe in four-plus decades of competition and design work with partner Bill Coore. Since first seeing Pinehurst No. 2 in November 1973, he’s revered its unique qualities.
So what makes Pinehurst No. 2 special?
Let us count the ways.
Pinehurst No. 2 8th Hole
No. 1 Wide fairways
Donald Ross and superintendent Frank Maples installed the first irrigation system on No. 2 in 1933. The pipe was laid down the middle of each fairway and water was thrown roughly seventy feet on either side.
“There’s nothing like it, nothing like it in the world.” – Ben Crenshaw
That ground was maintained as fairway, everything else was the natural hardpan sand that had defined the region for generations. That breathing room off the tee allowed golfers the opportunity to aim tee shots to one side or the other in order to have the best angle to approach the green and the hole location that day.
“I’m a fan of change. With change provides opportunity. I think a lot of people in the world are going to watch the U.S. Women’s Open who may not have watched simply because of this back-to-back situation.”