Luke DeCock

With 2024 U.S. Open golf, Pinehurst joins elite club

ldecock@newsobserver.com

With the Pinehurst clubhouse behind them, Martin Kaymer, right center, and his caddie Craig Connelly ponder a club selection on the second hole during the final round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday, June 15, 2014.
With the Pinehurst clubhouse behind them, Martin Kaymer, right center, and his caddie Craig Connelly ponder a club selection on the second hole during the final round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday, June 15, 2014. cseward@newsobserver.com

The source of the news that Pinehurst Resort and Country Club would host the 2024 U.S. Open was surprising – the Village of Pinehurst approved a marketing contract with the USGA on Tuesday – but the news itself was not. Pinehurst’s No. 2 course has been expected to host the U.S. Open for a fourth time since last summer’s triumphant double of hosting the men and the women in consecutive weeks.

While an official announcement from the USGA may be some time away, between this week’s British Open and the minor detail that the organization has yet to announce sites for 2022 (expected to be The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.) and 2023 (expected to be Los Angeles Country Club), the impact of Pinehurst hosting a fourth Open in the span of a mere 26 years is immediately significant.

With yet another quick return to the Sandhills – six years, nine years, 10 years – the USGA has unofficially invited Pinehurst to join the unofficial modern U.S. Open rota, the select group of courses deemed both architecturally pristine and logistically capable of hosting the Open over and over again.

To be a part of the exclusive club considered worthy of repeat visits is the highest honor the USGA can bestow upon a golf course.

This is exalted company: Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Winged Foot and Shinnecock. And now Pinehurst, which since its first Open in 1999 has moved into that group more quickly than any course in the history of the tournament. No course, not even Pebble Beach, has gone from zero to four this fast.

To be considered worthy of repeat visits is the highest honor the USGA can bestow upon a golf course.

Since Pebble Beach hosted for the first of six times in 1972 (including a scheduled visit in 2019), only those five courses have hosted or been scheduled to host four U.S. Opens.

There are a few others not far behind – among historic Open venues, the Olympic Club has hosted three times in that span and Baltusrol twice – and Bethpage and Torrey Pines have also become repeat hosts since Pinehurst got its first shot

Being a part of this group means hosting other USGA tournaments as well, and Pinehurst is already on the list for the 2017 Amateur Four-Ball (the third iteration of that new event, previously hosted by Winged Foot and the Olympic Club) and the 2019 U.S. Amateur, the third time Pinehurst has held that event.

It isn’t all about golf. You have to be willing to host the U.S. Open and accept whatever recommendations the USGA makes, and there has to be room for the massive commercial enterprise that comes along with the tournament, and the climate has to be right for a tournament in mid-June, and it doesn’t hurt to be open to the public, even at a price.

Pinehurst checks all of those boxes, and it also distinguished itself in 2014 as a test bed for the kind of water-saving concepts the USGA is pushing as a way to keep more golf courses viable in the face of increasing demands on groundwater.

The golf matters, though, and when compared to Pebble Beach and Oakmont and Winged Foot and Shinnecock, the timeless Donald Ross design of No. 2 holds its own, both before and after the renovations by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore that turned the clock back to Ross’ era.

For decades, under the guidance of the owning Tufts family, Pinehurst was known as the home of American amateur golf. Now, under the guidance of the owning Dedman family, Pinehurst has taken its place among the greatest courses in the country, worthy of being one of the U.S. Open’s home courses. It may not be Pebble Beach – what is? – but it isn’t far behind.

DeCock: ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947

THE UNOFFICIAL ROTA

Since Pebble Beach hosted for the first time in 1972, only five courses have hosted four or more U.S. Opens, including future tournaments that have been awarded or are expected to be awarded.

Pebble Beach (6) 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019

Oakmont (5) 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016

Pinehurst (4) 1999, 2005, 2014, 2024

Shinnecock (4) 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018

Winged Foot (4) 1974, 1984, 2006, 2020

FUTURE U.S. OPEN SITES

2016 Oakmont Country Club, Penn.

2017 Erin Hills, Wisc.

2018 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, N.Y.

2019 Pebble Beach Golf Links, Calif.

2020 Winged Foot Golf Club, N.Y.

2021 Torrey Pines Golf Course, Calif.

2022* The Country Club, Mass.

2023* Los Angeles Country Club, Calif.

2024* Pinehurst Resort and Country Club

*-expected, not yet officially awarded

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments