PINEHURST, N.C. — Too bad the USGA couldn’t get Ernie Banks on the first tee today to announce, “Let’s play two!” Banks was known as “Mr. Cub,” and he loved baseball so much he wished there could be a doubleheader every day.
That’s effectively what awaits the USGA at Pinehurst No. 2.
For the first time in history, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open will be held on the same course in consecutive weeks. USGA executive director Mike Davis is excited about the grand experiment, though he’s making no promises.
“Let me just stay that for the two weeks, our intent is to try to test both groups of golfers in a like manner,” Davis said Wednesday. “Whether we’re actually able to pull that off or not is another story that I think a lot of us — including me — are still waiting to see, although we’re confident we can get pretty good at it.”
The idea is to have men and women approach the greens with roughly the same type of shot.
Pinehurst will play 7,562 yards for the men and 6,649 yards for the women.
“If it happens to rain a lot in week two versus week one, we will take that under consideration in terms of how the golf course is set up,” Davis said.
The comparison with men and women in golf is always the speed of the green. Davis said he intends to keep the putting surfaces at 12 on the Stimpmeter for both weeks. The difference is the greens for the Women’s Open will be less firm.
“So if a male hits a 6-iron in, it reacts the same way as a 6-iron hit by the female,” he said.
Pebble future: LPGA Tour players celebrated when the USGA announced nearly a decade ago that Pebble Beach would host a U.S. Women’s Open. Seven years ago, when the U.S. Women’s Open was at Pine Needles, former executive director David Fay said of the Women’s Open going to Pebble, “We know the year — it’s 2014 — but we have not finalized the date.”