A U.S. Open Experience…for the littlest of fans

puttinggreen2(1) (1024x679)

C.J. Lowder, 3, (left) plays a round on Pinehurst’s Thistle Dhu putting course. | Photo by Billy Liggett

Golf gained another fan for life this week.

Minutes after walking through the gates at Pinehurst Resort to watch the U.S. Open, 3-year-old C.J. Lowder saw his first pro golfer tee off from the 12th. He looked up at his dad, Chris Lowder of Aberdeen, and smiled big.

“I want to do that,” he declared.

And so he did.


Thistle Dhu

Photo by John Gessner

New to the U.S. Open experience at Pinehurst is a 12-hole putting green for children and young teens, Thistle Du. Located between the 13th green and the 14th tee box on Pinehurst No. 2, the rolling green is named for the country’s first official miniature golf course, created in Pinehurst back in 1919 by James Wells Barber. (The name, “Thistle Du,” is a play on the first words Barber muttered upon the completion of his garden course … “This’ll do.” Outside of U.S. Open weeks, the course is open to members and resort guests and plays to a full 18 holes.)

The new version was brimming Tuesday with kids from C.J.’s age to middle schoolers, many of them learning proper technique from their moms or dads.


Photo by John Gessner

“I think this is a great thing,” Chris Lowder said as his son chased putts around him. “It gets children excited and involved. It’s already great that the Open lets kids this age in free. This is a great age to get them started.” – By Billy Liggett