June 18, 2005

U.S. Open: Pinehurst #2

This North Carolina golf course is perhaps the dullest looking great course on TV, because television cameras have a hard time picking up its unique feature: all the relatively small undulations around the dome-shaped greens. Watching Pinehurst on TV can be more fun than normal because the golf balls don't behave the way you'd expect because you can't really see the ups and downs. Shots land on what look like flat greens and then roll in crazy paths right off the green. It would be more fun to see in person, where your naked eyes can pick up all the complex slopes and you can understand the challenges, both mental and physical, that the golfers face: not just the hitting the green, but of picking out the right spot on the green to land the ball to get it to roll close to today's pin placement, and then executing the shots from 100 to 200 yards away.

Pinehurst served for decades as the winter home of the most prolific architect of the Golden Age of design, Donald Ross. When the Depression largely ended the golf architecture business, Ross retired to Pinehurst and puttered for years at turning the resort's #2 course into his masterpiece. Oddly enough, though, the most distinctive feature of the course, the dome-shaped, "inverted saucer" saucer greens that tend to shed all but the perfect shot apparently weren't intentional. Pete Dye claims that years of greenskeeping, piling fertilizer and the like on the greens, inadvertently raised their ground level and that Ross was thinking about shaving them down when he died in 1948.

Here's my article on golf course architecture as an art form -- now with 25 photos.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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