Pinehurst No. 2 Asks: What Can Brown Do For You?

The Seventh Hole of Pinehurst No. 2.  (John Mummert, USGA)
The Seventh Hole of Pinehurst No. 2. (John Mummert, USGA)

No doubt thousands of people around the country and around the globe are getting their first looks at the redone Pinehurst No. 2 and wondering what happened?

It’s as brown as it is green.


That’s by design, of course, and it lends to the unique characteristics that have separated No. 2 through the years.

The USGA is also hopeful that by seeing the U.S. Open played on a course that’s not green from wall to wall that perhaps other courses will be encouraged to cut back on their water bills. Water conservation is a growing issue for courses and it will only get more problematic going forward.

Here’s the rub:

What would most members say if their superintendents let their courses go brown around the edges? What if they let the rough go back to whatever Mother Nature wanted it to be rather than cultivating it?

There’s nothing wrong with brown patches of grass. The brown areas at No. 2 aren’t dead grass. Just brown grass.

My sense is most members would scream at their superintendents to water the course. Augusta National does it. Why can’t other courses look that way?

It’s not just chasing a nearly impossible standard, it’s chasing an unnecessary standard.

And it’s probably not going to change.

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