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Pinehurst No. 2 serves up a dish of classic humility

Pinehurst No. 2 serves up a dish of classic humility

PINEHURST, N.C. – The humble Texas Wedge gets no love.

Reaching for the putter from off the putting surface is often considered an effort of last resort for weekend hackers who can’t muster much muscle control to hit a proper chip or pitch. Just surrender to your inadequacies and grab that flat stick, so the stigma goes.

That all changes at this week’s U.S. Open.

The Donald Ross-designed Pinehurst No. 2 is no ordinary Open test, and many of the shots and decisions required will be entirely different than those typically employed by tour professionals. The layout is ranked by Golfweek’s Best as the No. 1 public-access course in North Carolina, the No. 3 resort course in the U.S. and the No. 18 Classic course in the U.S.

It’s not just the chipping –  or putting – onto No. 2’s notoriously domed greens. Open contestants will be met with acres of sandy scrub, where luck holds great influence on outcome. Additional wiregrass was planted in the sandscapes just off the fairways for this U.S. Open, adding even more intrigue as any ball bounds off the firm but ample fairways.

Max Homa putts up and onto the first green from the fringe during a practice round before the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. (Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Sports)

Wayward pros might find their next shot sitting pretty atop a clear patch of sand. Or in a footprint. Or plugged at the base of an ill-willed plant. Is it fair? That’s not the point, and this week’s winner will be one of the few to withstand that kind of fair-not-fair mindset. Players need not worry about the randomness of bad lies and wiregrass that lurk away from the fairways if they keep their shots on short grass, of which there is plenty.

This will be an Open of survival. Of finding a way, regardless of convention. Of swallowing pride to ensure no worse than a bogey. An Open at Pinehurst is frequently less about great shots and more about minimizing the impact of bad swings and poor decisions, even more so since a 2011 restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw took No. 2 back to its raw, sandy, bouncy roots.

In an era of big swings dominating golf, Pinehurst No. 2 puts a premium on small-ball sensibilities. Of knowing when to pitch out sideways, when to play to the front of a green, when to leave the 60-degree wedge in the bag. Martin Kaymer proved as much in winning the 2014 U.S. Open by eight shots, deftly relying on his putter from off the greens.

The resort caddies at No. 2 don’t…


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