DSG in N.C.: Getting to play Pinehurst No. 2
It's about once-in-a-great-while golf.
It's about taking advantage of a rare opportunity to tee it up on Pinehurst Resort's storied No. 2 course. designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1907.
No. 2 is one of the best courses on the planet and, there's no getting around this, beyond the reach of most golfers from the standpoint of cost.
Even if you are staying at the resort and paying the current golf package rate of $638 per night (double occupancy, 1 round golf, breakfast buffet, dinner included), it cost another $195 plus caddie fees to play the course on which history will be made in June when it hosts the U.S. Men's and Women's Opens.
Luckily for yours truly, an invitation to participate in a Media Day for the U.S. Opens, presented jointly by the United States Golf Association and Pinehurst included the option to play No. 2 after the presentations were complete.
Before proceeding, here's a tip of the golf hat to traveling companion and Hall of Fame golf writer George Sweda.
Due in no small part to George's longstanding relationships with the USGA, Pinehurst and Pinehurst President and COO Don Padgett II, I was able to join George in going off the first tee with Padgett's son, Don Padgett III, and Malcolm E. "Mac'' Everett.
Don III is executive director of the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, set for July 30 though Aug. 3 at Firestone Country Club in Akron.
Both of the Padgetts have deep ties to Firestone and Pinehurst, the elder Padgett having run the show at Firestone for 25 years before following in the footsteps of his father, Don Padgett, to take the top job at Pinehurst in 2004.
Don Padgett was Pinehurst's vice president/director of golf when he died in May 2003. Before that, he'd been president of the PGA.
Don III, a superb player in his own right, told me he'd played hundreds of rounds at No. 2.
"It's my favorite course because if I'm here and playing, I'm on vacation,'' he said, smiling.
Mac Everett, also a strong player, is one of the leading citizens of Charlotte, N.C. Now retired from his career in banking, Mac is tournament director of the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship, the PGA Tour event being staged this week in Charlotte.
We teed off just after 1:30 p.m. in letter-perfect weather. No. 2 is a great walking course. Our group's caddies, Chris and Mark, made the 4 1/2-hour trip all the more enjoyable by offering advice on how best to navigate the course's twists, turns and demanding greens.
No. 2 is a transformed course since the 2010 renovation masterminded by noted architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the former PGA Tour stalwart and two-time Masters champion.
The Coore-Crenshaw rebuild restored the sandy waste areas flecked with native grasses and pine straw that had been part of Ross' original design. There is no rough to speak of on No. 2, and it is not missed.
Maintained in fine form by Coore and Crenshaw were the "turtleback'' greens rising above the surrounding turf on No. 2. This was my third round at No. 2 and the first since the rebuild. The course always was magnificent. Now, it's superb.
I'll always remember this round on No. 2 both for the golf and for the great vibe generated by my playing partners and the caddies. Everybody hit their share of good shots and shared many a laugh. The time flew by.
We played No. 2 from the white tees at 6,300 yards.
During the Opens, it will play at par-70, 7,562 yards for the men and par-70, 6,649 yards for the women.
With the men playing first, from June 12 through 15, there are concerns about the playing conditions that will be inherited by the women when they play from June 19 through 22.
It's my belief No. 2 will hold up well.
Closer to the tournament dates, I'll publish a story focusing on this historic convergence of major tournaments.