The questions started the moment the announcement was made.
Within seconds of the USGA unveiling its 2014 experiment with the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens rolling back-to-back at the same golf course, hands went up and queries flew about course conditions, logistics, practice, lodging, access and promotion.
At the time, the USGA responses – This is the in the early stages; we have a lot of things to work out; all these issues will be addressed in due time – seemed reasonable. You couldn’t expect all the kinks to be worked out on Day One. But five months out, those same questions are taking on a much more urgent tone.
What will Pinehurst No. 2 look like after the U.S. Open?
Will the landing areas be playable? What will the rough heights be? Will the driving range be a sand hill?
What about the condition of the greens? June in North Carolina is notoriously hot, humid and filled with thunderstorms and gnats. Will the greens be green, blue or brown when the women show up for their opening rounds?
When will the women get to play their first practice rounds since it obviously won’t be the weekend before the event?
What happens if there is a playoff and the U.S. Open rolls into Monday, or, God forbid, a weather delay and then a playoff, which could push the conclusion back until Tuesday?
How soon will players in the U.S. Women’s Open be able to arrive at Pinehurst? What are the accommodation arrangements for the weekend before?
Will there be promotion of the Women’s Open during the week of the men’s? And how about galleries? Will galleries that would be considered large by U.S. Women’s Open standards look puny in the giant grandstands set up for the men?
Because players don’t have the answers, USGA Executive Director Mike Davis has agreed to LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan’s request to address them in March at the LPGA Founders Cup.
According to reporting by Randall Mell at golfchannel.com, Whan said, “We shared a lot of our concerns and questions when the USGA flew down to meet with our staff in Orlando in December.
“I told Mike there are probably more questions from my players than I’ve thought of. I thought it would be beneficial for him and us if he came to a player meeting to talk about what the plan is for Pinehurst No. 2 and to hear other concerns, questions, thoughts and to get some input from our players. He said he would love to do that.”
The USGA should be applauded for the effort. This is still a bold idea that could turn out to be great for all concerned. But the questions are valid. And it’s long past time they were answered.