The Norman Transcript

Sports

June 12, 2014

Native vegetation gives Pinehurst much different look for major

PINEHURST, N.C. — Some of the names at the U.S. Open sound a little different.

Kiss Me Quick.

Fleabane.

Toad flax.

They are among thousands of plants thriving at Pinehurst No. 2 after a 2011 restoration project to the course’s natural look from more than a half-century ago. Yet those areas of natural growth also have plenty of what most people would call weeds in an unkempt yard.

This is not the typical pristine look of a course hosting a major championship. Pinehurst looks a lot rougher than the last time the U.S. Open came here in 2005.

“It is what they want to call undergrowth,” said Curtis Strange, a two-time U.S. Open champion and ESPN analyst. “I call it weeds. It is everything that you have seen in the worst kept lawn you’ve ever seen in your life.

“It is dandelions growing up 12 to 15 inches, it’s low-growing weeds, and in some cases it’s actually difficult to find the golf ball.”

Well, that depends on where it lands.

The natural areas have replaced the thick green swaths of high grass typically surrounding the fairways and greens. In some spots, the rough is little more than sandy patches scattered between pine needles or leaves with a few ankle-deep weeds on level terrain.

In others, the ball will vanish in lurking grassy clumps or among plants growing hip-high.

“This golf course at Pinehurst, you have more chances for rub of the green, good and bad then maybe any other Open,” Joe Ogilvie said Wednesday on the driving range. “The element of chance is at the forefront here, and I think guys will embrace it.”

The revamped rough is the most noticeable piece of Pinehurst’s renovation, restoring some of the past natural look while making the course easier to maintain going forward.

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