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UNITED STATES GOLF ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 19, 2013
THE MODERATOR:¬† We are fortunate to have Mike Davis our Executive Director with the USGA.¬† Those of you that know Mike, who have received an inside of the ropes set up for our Open Championships, today he will share his thoughts about No.2, what makes it a special test of championship golf and give us a sneak preview regarding set up for the 2014 Open Championships.
Before I get started just wanted to take the opportunity to recognize some of our Pinehurst and USGA staff members who play a key role with our championships:¬† Tom Pashley, executive vice president here at Pinehurst; Jay Biggs, the senior vice president of golf and club operations, and Bob Farren, the director of golf course maintenance and grounds, and Bob and Kevin Robinson of the golf maintenance team just do a tremendous job with the golf courses here and getting them in shape for our championships.
On the USGA side, most of you have met our communications team.¬† Most of you know Pete Kowalski and Christina Lance, and great to be able to get them to come down and join us from New Jersey today.¬† Robe value tech, our director of Championship Management for the U.S. Open sitting there in the back row and then our on‑site championship team.¬† They are really the ones that live here in Pinehurst, actually have an office here in this building, Layton Sloan (ph), our championship manager, and Maddy (ph), our assistant manager and these are really the two that are charged with the day‑to‑day heavy lifting for the championships.
Certainly our team is very excited to be back here at Pinehurst and our organization has a great affection for Pinehurst and the Sandhills area.¬† As of 2014, the USGA will have conducted 12 of our national championships here in the Sandhills area over the last 20 years.¬† That includes three U.S. Open Championships and four U.S. Women's Open Championships.
Next year will mark the seventh and eighth USGA championships to be conducted on Pinehurst No.2, and Pinehurst No.2 will become the only venue to have hosted all three of our Open Championships and our men's and Women's Amateur Championships.¬† We appreciate the support we have always received from the people at North Carolina because of this, whether it's the special memories that have happened here inside the ropes as with Payne Stewart in 1999 to the record crowds and hospitality sales in 2005.¬† Pinehurst has become the benchmark for our championships.
So looking forward to 2014.¬† We have a new opportunity.¬† Back‑to‑back U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open Championships.¬† First thing I always get asked is, why are we doing this.¬† And certainly tell you, it's not because it makes things easier for our team, either outside or inside the ropes.¬† While there may be some limited benefits, this is not a decision that was financially motivated.¬† It's not something that was requested by our network partners.
So the end of the day, it really goes back to our mission as an organization, conducting our national championships at golf's greatest venues, and it is something that has never been done before, taking the best 312 players in the world, both men and women, and crowning our two national champions on consecutive weeks on the same golf course, both experiencing the same test of golf.
So for us, 2014 is really about the opportunity to make history, and what better place to make history than here at Pinehurst.¬† I know many of you have experienced our memorable championships here firsthand, but for those of you that are new I would like to share a short video that I think captures the special relationship between Pinehurst and the USGA and what we have to look forward to in 2014.
Obviously this is a very new and different challenge for our team hosting back‑to‑back events and it really has required us to take a different approach.
So while it is two weeks, it is two championships, for our team outside the ropes, we are really looking at this as one event and that's really the way we have approached it in a couple of areas.¬† We have actually developed one joint logo which you saw there at the very end of the video and that's with a we will be using on our collateral and on‑site signage here at the Championship.¬† And then tickets and hospitality, by including tickets for both Championship weeks in our packages, in order to give our golf fans here in North Carolina the ability to come to both events.
As far as corporate sales go, we are off to a strong start.¬† We have already sold out of our hospitality packages here in the clubhouse and for our corporate village and the practice range, it's nearly two thirds of the way sold out.¬† Certainly after record sales that we had here for The Opens in 1999 and 2005 and even the Women's Opens in 2001 and 2007, we know we can always count on strong support from corporate North Carolina, which is very critical to the success of our championships.
As far as tickets to our USGA Members, went on sale March 4, and these tickets will become available to the general public on June 10 which is the Monday of this year's U.S. Open up at Merion.¬† Certainly expect tickets to be in high demand as they were in 2005 with crowds on peak days approaching 55,000 spectators.
That's really what I remember when I look back at 2005.¬† Obviously you look at the video, you think back to '99 and everybody thinks about Payne Stewart.¬† But in 2005, for me, it was about crowds.¬† It was about people.¬† And record ticket sales for each day of the championship for the week, over 325,000 people in attendance.¬† And just for comparison, that's almost 100,000 more than we had this year at the Olympic Club.¬†
Our ticket sales for the Women's Open have always been strong.¬† In 2001 and 2007, very good crowds despite poor weather.
So realistically with the support of our North Carolina golf fans and if Mother Nature really cooperates with us, we could have over 400,000 people in attendance for the two weeks of the championships.
Logistically, when we first discussed this content, our biggest concern really was our championship volunteers; would we be able to get enough in order to support this.¬† And quite frankly, I'll be honest with you, I'm not sure looking at some of our other venues, I'm not sure if we can do this anywhere else.
But we have such a dedicated and knowledgeable core group here in the Sandhills, with certainly we could not run these championships without the volunteer support.
Both championships we are projecting between 6,500 and 7,000 volunteers.¬† Maddy has done a lot of great work and come up with great options to incentivize our volunteers to work both weeks.
As of today, very happy to announce that all of our volunteer positions have been filled.¬† We have over 6,600 volunteers that have submitted applications.¬† Although we will still continue to take applications for our wait list, of those volunteers, 62 percent are from North Carolina, but we have volunteer representation from all 50 states and 13 foreign countries, and nearly 750 percent of our volunteers signed onto work for both weeks.
Again, just overwhelmed by the support that we have received here from our championship volunteers.¬† Obviously we still have a lot of work ahead of us.¬† We are 416 days left and counting, but looking forward to sharing an very historic event at Pinehurst in June.
For myself and several of our staff members, 2014 is a home game.¬† Let me just say that we could not have a better partner than the team here at Pinehurst.¬† The commitment that we have at the top from Bob Dedman, his vision and stewardship of Pinehurst on a day‑to‑day basis with Don Padgett, the president and COO of Pinehurst; and Don also serves as our general chairman for the 2014 U.S. Open Championships, and has been a great coach, great mentor and great friend for our team.
I would like to invite Don to come up and say a few words about Pinehurst and his relationship with the USGA, and our 2014 championship.
DON PADGETT III:¬† What I would like to do is thank everybody in this room for help setting the tone or four past championships and certainly for 2014.¬† You guys get it; you understand the golf; and you set the tone for the Carolinas and how they feel about for what's happening here and what's happening in the future and for that I really thank you.
The other point I would kind of like to make is how honored we are at Pinehurst that the USGA would choose us to do a concept like this, to host two tournaments back‑to‑back, never been done before, and I think when you enter into something like that, uncharted water, you go with people you trust, and we are honored by that.
The other reason I'm up here, is to introduce the reason you're all here, Mike Davis.
Mike is the Executive Director of the USGA, but more importantly to us, he's a friend of ours, and he's helped us with the tournaments and he helps us with everything we try to do golf‑wise at Pinehurst, he's of great counsel and we value that very much.
Without further ado, Mike Davis.
MIKE DAVIS:¬† Thanks for the very nice words.¬† I can assure you that the feeling of friendship goes both ways.
Well, thanks, everybody, for coming out today.¬† I thought maybe I would approach this with just trying to answer‑‑ try to answer a few of the questions we commonly get about Pinehurst, about the back‑to‑back Opens, about how Pinehurst is going to be set up.¬† And then maybe just open it up for Q&A, whether it's done or to done or to Reg or to me, that would be fine.
One of the things that we really get over and over from people is, tell us:¬† Why does the USGA have this love affair, this infatuation with Pinehurst and with the Sandhills.¬† What's really interesting, if you look back, as we saw on the video, Pinehurst is an incredibly historical place.
But if you look back on it's championship history, while we had Amateur Championships here, in terms of Opens, this relationship began in 1999, as I think everybody knows.¬† We began the U.S. Open 1894, so well over a hundred years before we decided to come here with the U.S. Open.¬† I can remember, one of the people that hired me for the USGA was PJ Boatwright, interestingly enough, the former Executive Director of the Carolina Golf Association, Michael Bann (ph), in the back, with the CGA and later came with the USGA and was the Executive Director; and then furthermore, set up the U.S. Open and our Championships for years.
And I can remember back in 1990 having a dinner with PJ and here is somebody that just absolutely loves Pinehurst, but I said why, wouldn't we ever have a U.S. Open there.¬† And his response was‑‑ and this is somebody that knew the Open as well as anybody says, it will never happen.¬† They can't get the golf course in the right condition in early June.¬† It's too late in the year.
So fast forward to some of the new grasses, specifically at Pinehurst No.2, the G2 hybrid that they used on the greens, and all of a sudden now, we did feel like we could get the right agronomic conditions, get the firmness and get the speed in June.¬† Last we had in 1999 as we saw a great, great moment in time in terms of golf and then a very successful 2005 open.
So when we get asked that basic question, why Pinehurst, it's several things; it's the history.¬† You look at how the great history, well over a hundred years here, there's the Richard Tuft story, you look back for us, and people that have been presidents of the USGA and influential ones, he's right at the top of the list.¬† Just a great president.
So many of the things the USGA does even to this day‑‑ it's the history.¬† It's the golf course itself; architecturally, this is an absolute gem.¬† It's very unusual, yes, it's Donald Ross, yet it's just a great architectural treat.
Foremost people and people that love architecture, it grows on you.¬† It gets better every time you see it.¬† Some golf courses there's a wow factor the first time you see it.¬† Pinehurst, there's so many wonderful subtleties to this No.2 course that I am convinced it gets better.¬† It's great that first time and it just gets better every time.
It's built on sand and I would tell that you at least in my opinion and a lot of other people, every golf course in the world would be better if it was built on sand, drains better, gets the ball to bounce.¬† You have to consider what happens when the ball lands.¬† There's plenty of space here for operations, so we have people not only in areas of tarp, but we have plenty of room in between holes to move the gallery.¬† So it's a comfortable space to get the numbers that Reg with a talking about.¬† This is a big U.S. Open site for us.
I would also say, some of the other reasons we love coming here is just we get wonderful support.¬† We get wonderful support from Pinehurst itself, and it starts with as Reg mentioned, the owner here, Bob Dedman, but then it goes to the entire staff.¬† There's no place we go to that is anymore welcoming to the USGA than right here.¬† It's great to work with.
We get great support from the Town of Pinehurst and Moore County and the State of North Carolina, and believe me that influences our decision of where we go.¬† We just get great support from the top down.¬† It really is a great place for us to play championships.
Reg touched on, why are we going back‑to‑back, and when it boils right down to us, it's this intrigue that we had with wanting to compare the best male golfers in the world with the best female golfers.
I think that when this idea came up, and it was really my predecessor David Fay, who was Executive Director, his idea was‑‑ I can recall like it was yesterday, him walking into my office and saying, what do you think about this idea‑‑ I'm looking at him like, have you completely lost it, because there's no way we can get the golf course right; you can't take a U.S. Open set up for the men and do it for the women.¬† It just wouldn't work.
Really when it got right down to it, it was because we couldn't figure out how to get the roughs right.¬† And if you think about the difference between the women and the men, it really boils down to three things.¬† It's how far they hit the ball, how much spin they put on the ball and just their ability to move the ball out of the U.S. Open rough.
So if we had rough that we basically had at the Women's Open, it would be too easy for the men and vice versa, too hard for the women, the men's rough.
We got to thinking about it and said, we could do it at Pinehurst, that's the one place we could do the back‑to‑back open.¬† Now we made the decision back when there was a presumption that there would be less rough, but even so, you could take that three‑inch bermudarough that we had traditionally had at the U.S. Open and knock it down to 2 1/2 inches and it would have worked for the women.
So if we were at Oakmont or Olympic Club or Winged Foot, there's just too much difference and it would never work.¬† So that really gets down to kind of the why.
But I think one of the things that will be so neat, and obviously we can't control Mother Nature and she has more impact on how stern this golf course will play than we do.¬† But when we went to the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 2007 and Angel Cabrera won, just a great test of golf.¬† Then when we went back there in 2010, three years later, Paula Creamer won that Women's Open.¬† It was really neat to watch.
I think the one thing that it's going to prove is that we all know how well the men play but I really genuinely think the world does not appreciate how good the best women play.¬† They play a great game of golf.¬† They just don't hit it as far, don't have as much spin, not quite as much power out of the rough, but I think that's the one thing that the world will like about this.
I know that also, there's a buzz to it.¬† One of the neat things about tennis, the US Open tennis, Wimbledon, French Open, Australian Open, is that you get that buzz of having both the men and women there for that week, and it really is neat to see it.¬† So I think that was another thing, just to create kind of that atmosphere of national championships back‑to‑back.
So that gives you a little bit about why back‑to‑back.
In terms of changes since 2005, what are they?¬† Well, obviously, the biggest thing is the re‑do by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.¬† I think in that respect, I'll say a few things.
First of all, that was a huge commitment.¬† You could argue it was a huge risk by Bob Dedman, by Don Padgett, to say: ¬†We are going to take a golf course that is already tried and true; we know how good it is, and we are going to close it for a few months and we are just going to re‑do it.¬† We are going to try to take it back to the vision of what Ross wanted it to be.
I think it's fair to say that they hit an absolute Grand Slam.¬† It is just wonderful out there.¬† It's wonderful architecturally, it's wonderful visually and I really do think that Ben and Bill stayed very true to what Donald Ross wanted.
That's one of the things for us, what we are really trying to do now and I think one of our goals in the future is to take‑‑ we go to wonderful, some of the best golf courses in the United States for our national championships, and that's one of the advantages that we have of going to a different place every year is that places will have us; if we have to go there every year, it's like, too much on the community, it's too much on the membership or whatever.
But because of that, we get to go to some of these fabulous places, and I think that in this case, it isn't going to be a different U.S. Open in terms of the look‑‑ before it was all bermudagrass, other than the putting greens, which are bentgrass.¬† So you just didn't get that visual eye candy, if you will, from the teeing grounds and hitting into the greens, and you're going to have that now.
So architecturally, it is just‑‑ we knew it would be good, just because Bill and Ben are about as good a team you could have, if you are choosing to do a project like this, they absolutely got the right ones.¬† In some ways, these guys are living legends in terms of their ability to design golf courses or in this case, restore golf courses.
To get back to what's different.¬† Well, we added some new teeing grounds in 2005, maybe half a hole, and it wasn't just really for length.¬† What it's really done, on some holes we thought the holes would play better with certain teeing grounds and they are not all back tees.¬† Some are put forward.
For example, we built short teeing grounds on the third hole and on the 13th hole, and we did that because those will both be on certain days drivable par 4s for the men and we wanted to do the same thing for the women.
So in addition to some new teeing grounds, we obviously are going to have a U.S. Open that does not have rough, at least rough in the normal, traditional grass, and I believe that this will be the 114th playing of the U.S. Open; I don't think we‑‑ in fact, I'm 99.99 percent sure, we have never had this.¬† We have always had U.S. Open rough with the U.S. Open.
In this case, you're going to have a U.S. Open that is‑‑ when you miss a fairway now, you're going to get all kind of different lies.¬† When you have bermudarough, you pretty much get one lie, the players know what's going to happen, they can look down at their ball.¬† But this time, you may get on hardpan, you may get on pine needles, you may get on kind of a loose sand area that maybe has footprints in it.¬† You may get in some washed up, organic matter, some old grass clippings, you may get against a pine cone.
You may get in one of these wonderful bumpers that flow from the sand areas into a bunker.¬† There's all kind of things you're going to get and that's unique.¬† They just don't see that on a normal week‑to‑week basis.¬† They haven't seen it in past U.S. Opens.
So there's going to be an element of creativity.¬† And even a matter of luck; when you get it off the fairways are you may get a great lie; if they get it on hardpan, for a touring pro, that is an absolute green light.¬† They can control the distance and they can put spin on it, but they might not get it in a so‑good area.¬† That's one thing.
In terms of another change from 2005, fairway width.¬†¬† For the 14 holes that are not par 3s, they are definitely, every single one of them, are wider than what we had in 2005 or 1999.¬† In some cases it may only be ten or so percent.¬† In other cases it may be more than 50 percent.
So from the standpoint of this U.S. Open and this Women's Open, it will be a more generous driving area and I also think that all in all, when you miss a fairway, all in all, with the rough it will be slightly easier, too.¬† Your chance of getting a few of those green light lies in this versus always be in rough where you're going to have grass between your club and ball and not being able to control your distance or your spin; that said, for those of you that really know Pinehurst No.2, it's about these wonderful kind of reads that are firm and sand based that you really have to control your ball and you've got to hit it crisply into these greens to hold it.
So that really is challenging.¬† And when you miss one of these greens, what's so neat about it is again, you're giving the player a choice and it's not necessarily‑‑ they may put it or hit a bump‑and‑run or they may pitch the ball.¬† Sometimes just putting that choice into their minds, that adds an element of difficulty just because they don't know exactly how they are going to play every shot.
In terms of expectations of the setup for The Open and the Women's Open, ideally what we are going to try to do is set the golf course up the same for both.¬† And that's obviously on a relative basis.
So the green speeds, we are going to have them the same; again, Mother Nature being cooperative, for both weeks.¬† So in the past, somewhere 11 1/2 to 12 on the Stimpmeter seemed to be the ideal Championship speed for these greens where it made them very challenging yet at the same time, we didn't really lose hole locations because they were too fast.
The bunkers will be prepared the same.¬† The sandy areas off the fairways will be prepared the same.¬† So the only difference, really two things that will be different for the women versus the men are the greens will be slightly softer.¬† Nobody should read into that that they are going to be soft; they are going to be relatively speaking, the same firmness as the men.
If we get our way, we would love to see a shot played from, say, the fairway that's hit well, let's say a 6‑iron, where it's a bounce, bounce stop; or if it's a wedge, it's a bounce, stop.¬† Or if you're coming in with something more than that, you may have to bounce the ball on the green because you're not really going to get it to spin much.
That's what we want for the women; that's what we want for the men.¬† And just because the men tend to have a slightly higher trajectory with the ball and do in part more spin, we will have the greens for the U.S. Open, hopefully Mother Nature cooperating, just a little bit drier than we would have for the women. ¬†Again, we want the ball to react the same.
The other thing is we want the distance to be relatively the same, too.¬† So what we have done, Ben Kimball, who sets up the Women's Open for us now, he and I have gone together and gone through and said, here is what I think they are going to hit off the tee, into the green on the first hole and he and I will do that for the same thing on the women's side.¬† We can't do it everywhere.
There are some places architecturally speaking, take the third hole, if you're laying up short of that cross‑bunker, that's going to be drivable for both groups for both weeks.¬† But our goal really is to have the women hitting roughly the same kind of shot into the greens and roughly the same shot off the tees, and then we'll just see.¬† I think everybody will be surprised on how well the women do play.¬† I think that is the one thing that I can say, particularly after watching them play Oakmont, they do not get enough credit on how good they are.
And then in terms of distance, we will roughly be at the tips for the U.S. Open, slightly over 7,500 yards, par 70.¬† For the women, around 6,500 yards, par 70.¬† I don't think we will play either Championship on any day quite that long; we like the long tees but not necessarily every day.¬† That's going to be the relative difference for the men in terms of the women.
We seem to get asked this a lot:¬† Why are you putting the women second and why wouldn't you have the Women's Open the first week.¬† There's one answer to that:¬† We think we have a much better chance of getting the golf course, and specifically the putting greens, prepped so we have the type of setup that we want.¬† So I just mentioned that the greens are going to be drier and firmer for the U.S. Open, yet relatively speaking the same thing for the women.
But we didn't feel like we could go through a week with the women having pretty firm greens and then go into the next week have and them even firm.¬† We felt like having them really firm week one and putting a little bit more water on them week two, purely from an agronomic standpoint, we have a better chance of having success both weeks.
So that is the reason why the women are going second and really the only reason.
So with that, I will open it up to questions.
One other thing, I didn't mention it, on differences from 2005, we will be flipping the par on holes 4 and 5.¬† If you get a chance playing today, you'll see that.¬† And the reason for that is that we just feel like architecturally it works better.¬† And the reason for that is No. 4 for the past championships, it's been played as a par 5, and there was a tee built kinds of way back to the player's right, and that was not the original angle that Donald Ross built the hole for and it really compromises that wonderful drive that slopes left‑to‑right.
By playing it at as a long par 4, and it will probably be 525, 530, it will be long, obviously hitting down hill on the tee shot, we feel that it's a much better drive zone and it brings the bunkers into play, and the fourth green is much, much more receptive to a long shot coming in than the fifth green.
Then when you hit to the fifth hole, we felt that was a better par 5, and interestingly, you go way back, Ross designed it as a par 5.¬† We felt with that one that that really is the toughest green complex here at Pinehurst No.2, and that it would be really a good, short, par 5, where they got a downhill, sidehill lie on the second shot, it's a great tee shot, great look to it but if it gets into tough lie hitting to a green that sits up and is really tiny and if you miss it‑‑ you're awful hard and once you're on the green, it's the hardest green on the course to putt.
Many people have said, you look at them as a par nine, because no matter how you slice it or dice it, you're probably going to play it pretty close to a par nine if you look at the whole field.
With that, I'll turn it over to questions.
Q.¬† When is the last time the 5th hole was played as a par 5?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† 1930s, I think there was an event, was it the PGA?¬† We can get you that information but it does go back a ways.
Q.¬† With the Championship rough, how do you expect that to affect scoring?¬† Will it be lower?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† Very good question, overall in terms of what the winning score would be, we have been basically right at par.
My guess, if you took everything in its equal, and that's big, because what we are really saying is, if we got pretty dry conditions like we had in '99 and 2005, I would guess that on balance, it might be a little bit easier.
And I say that simply because there's parts of this that have been made tougher.¬† I think some length on holes have been made tougher.¬† But at the same time, I do think that the biggest difference is there's just more fairway out there.¬† And when you allow the best players in the world to play off fairway, they are going to have a better chance to try to hit what are very difficult greens to hit.
But still, as I said before, the real challenge of No.2 is can you get yourself up on those greens.¬† Once you're up there, there's nice undulation to them, wonderful undulation to them, but they play much smaller square footage than they actually are.
So the trick is getting yourself up there, because often times what happens here is if you just miss, you don't put enough spin on it or you lands in the back part of the green and it releases over, you're going to end up where somebody flat‑out missed the green ended up.¬† So it repels shots.
I think this is going to hold its own quite well.¬† I do think the biggest influence here beyond the width of the fairways, and maybe having these sandy areas play a little bit easier‑‑ and I under score a little bit easier, than the grass rough, would be if we get firmness for the four days and firmness for the four days of the men, it will hold its own.¬† It doesn't need rough.
Q.¬† In back‑to‑back Opens, what's the biggest logistical problem that you're facing in holding back‑to‑backs, say one huge problem?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† I think it really comes down to the putting greens.¬† I think that to get greens maintained for two straight weeks in championship condition, that's a little bit of an unchartered territory.
Certainly when we are done here, you're speaking to Kevin Robinson or Bob Farren, they could certainly give you their perspective on it.¬† But I think that if we all of a sudden start to get weather that's a hundred degrees, or we just get thunderstorm after thunderstorm, it's going to be a challenge.
But all that said, I think they feel very comfortable.¬† They have got incredibly healthy putting greens, and so they are going to be easily‑‑ they are going to be prepared for those two weeks.
Q.¬† When the worse went from rough to Sandy area, did that also change how you would rope the course for spectator flow?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† I think our goal, we can't always get there and certainly this year at Merion we went get there in that respect.¬† But our goal is to rope a course so that we keep balls inside the ropes; in other words, play safe in the arena.¬† Because any time a ball gets outed ropes, funny things happen.¬† You either get trampled rough or having to move a bunch of spectators or anything you might be in a ton of footprints.
So I do think you will see the roping wider.¬† In fact, I know you will see it wider for this open and Women's Open than you saw for the last couple U.S. Opens here because simply for one thing, the fairways are wider.¬† When that ball gets to some of that hardpan, it rolls and it rolls a long way.¬† When you hit bermudarough, it stops, quickly.¬† So I think there will be a different roping plan.
But with that said, we are going to be very considerate and thoughtful when it comes to making sure that it's a good experience for the spectators.¬† I know that our staff has thought through grandstand locations and they have thought through making sure there are quite a few good vantage points but it will be slightly different.
Q.¬† How does the intended green speed compare to a normal U.S. Women's Open?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† When you're talking about just green speed, I would say it would probably be about normal.¬† When we set green speeds, what's interesting, we do it all based on really the architecture of the golf course.¬† We take green speeds‑‑ we go to Oakmont, there were days where we had them at 15.¬† When we go to Pebble Beach, they were maybe ten because of the winds you get.
The point being is that we try to really fit the speed to the architecture of the course and we have found after doing enough championships here that that 11 1/2, at the most 12, is the ideal green speed for Pinehurst No.2, because if you get any faster than that, you really do start to compromise some good holes locations, and I would argue the architecture.
But if all of a sudden we had them at, say, nine on the Stimpmeter, that, too, wouldn't be challenging the world's best players the way they want.¬† One of the big challenges about here is when you miss a green, you're trying to get up the hill; and in a lot of cases you get up and as soon as you're up, you start to go down.¬† So trying to navigate the speeds.
Firmness I would say is much more important than speed; but that speed, we've had green speed when the women play at Oakmont, they play those greens as fast as the men; and so they are up in the mid‑14s and they handled it beautifully because architecturally those greens can handle it and some can't handle it.
Q.¬† Definition of a bunker?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† Definition of a bunker, for those of you who have not been out there, you know the sandy areas will run‑‑ just wonderful aesthetically, but runs right into a bunker.¬† There's a big difference of what you can do through the green in a sandy area versus in a bunker.¬† You can't ground your club in a bunker and you can't remove a loose impediment in a bunker.¬† That question has come up quite a lot.
We will have a walking official, both the U.S. Open as well as the Women's Open in each group; and I think where there is a question of, define, is this in a bunker, through the green, that official will be able to make the call there.¬† But, in general, I think you're going to see the bunkers more maintained than the sandy areas.¬† The sandy areas are going to have footprints, they are going to have loose impediments, there's going to be wire grass, there's going to be all kind of stuff.¬† It's very natural.¬† Bunkers, on the other hand, are going to tend to be a little bit more maintained.
But one of the things you should notice when you're out playing today, which is I think a separate story but a great story to tell about Pinehurst and what you're doing here, if you look to the future of the game of golf, sustainability of the game is going to be a bigger and bigger and bigger issue, and specifically, water usage, the cost of the game.
If you want a story to right about something great, do a story on Pinehurst No.2 and how much less water they are using, how much less maintenance.¬† I brought up the bunkers but you're going to see the bunkers less maintained than any bunkers we have had in the modern era of the U.S. Open, because they are not going to be perfectly raked.¬† There's going to be some vegetation in some of them going, some areas that going up the face that are almost hardpan, and there's going to be different lies in those bunkers.
And listen, if the best players in the world want to argue or complain these bunkers are not consistent, it's going to be in one at or about and out the other ear because that's something that's so great; the cost of maintenance of bunkers in this country is huge, and this is a great statement to say, hit it in the hazard, it's not supposed to be perfect, you shouldn't have hit it there.¬† You may get some fluffy lies, you may get some thin lies, you may get some hardpan lies, but I think that is something we real will want to kind of show.
We think that for the future of the game of golf, reducing the maintenance, reducing the natural resources used is an important statement.¬† You're going to see that next year.¬† That's just a great story to tell.
Q.¬† Talking earlier about the buzz level of having the men and women together.¬† If you have a hugely successful tournament with McIlroy and Tiger and all the stars shooting it out, can you maintain the buzz level the next week?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† Very good question.¬† I think you can.¬† It may be in a different way.¬† We expect there to be more spectators here the first week than the second week, because we see that every year.¬† We get more people ‑‑¬† we sell out at every U.S. Open.¬† We can't say that about every Women's Open.
With that said, I really think you're going to see more buzz for this Women's Open, because people want to say, I want to see how they play versus the men.
I think there will be that intrigue, and the other thing is, I really think people‑‑ what we hear over and over is when people go out to watch the women play, they are always amazed at how solid they hit the ball, how straight they hit the ball, how much distance control.¬† They are very, very impressed.
So I would like to think that‑‑ listen, some of this, we can't control.¬† Like we can't control Mother Nature; we can't control when, as you said, when Tiger or Rory are in the hunt.¬† And the same thing is on the women's side, some players are just more popular to fans than others, and we can just present the golf course and let them be the show.
Q.¬† Back to the buzz question, the grandstands will be jam‑packed; does it concern you the atmosphere might not be the same for the women?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† Yes, a fair point.¬† When you take the grandstands that will be built, say, the 18th hole, it will be full for the Women's Open but I don't think that bothers us at all.¬† It's not as if‑‑ we have been asked a question before, why don't you just take the grandstand and reduce it by a little.¬† We can't do that; we would drive our vendor absolutely crazy.
I think that's perfectly fine.¬† In some ways it's no different than, go to Monday of a U.S. Open, and we get, you know, whatever, maybe 60,70 percent of the crowd that we would have later in the week and some of those fans are‑‑ it's okay.¬† I think we are fine.¬† I do think there will be‑‑ weather is going to dictate how many people we get on a daily basis for both the men and the women.¬† We'll be fine.
The other thing is, you have to remember that there's thousands here at Pinehurst that are going to view this; millions across the world will view it on TV.¬† I think the perspective is going to be much more what they are seeing on TV versus those that come here.
REG JONES:¬† Based on what we have seen our volunteer participation so far, I think the interest is there.
Q.¬† Would you guys do this again, is it a one‑time thing or wait and see how it goes type of thing?
MIKE DAVIS:¬† I think in fairness, we want to see how this goes.¬† There has not been discussion in‑house, I will tell you, about the same‑‑ let's name another back‑to‑back open site.¬† I really do think we want to see how this goes and take it from there.
We could be a giant hit and say, you know what, this is great for the game.¬† It's great for women's golf.¬† It's great for men's golf.¬† You know, there's things that could go wrong in this, too.¬† We were kind of joking at lunch, you know, if Mother Nature is not cooperating and now all of a sudden the men's week goes into the women's week, that's not going to be so good.¬† And if that happens, we'll have a playoff too on top of it.
I think that we are very bullish on this.¬† We do think that there's a lot more upside to this downside.
Q.¬† Given the events in Boston, are there any changes as far as security or doing anything different?
REG JONES:¬† Obviously in line of the events with the Marathon, we continue to review our security measures and really depend on our partnerships with our federal, state and local authorities.¬† We are going to do whatever we possibly can to take every possible precaution.
Q.¬† Will it impact what you do at Merion as far as security?
REG JONES:¬† No, I think for the most part, our security plan is one we feel very confident through our going back to 2002 with the open that we had at Bethpage right after 9/11.¬† Our security measures pretty much stayed at that same level.¬† Again I think that we have to look at every development that we learn from the marathon and try to implement that into our plan but for the most part we feel pretty confident.
MIKE DAVIS:¬† Sincere thanks to you, Don, and the group and we just don't have a better partner than Pinehurst and we cherish that relationship.¬† With that, thank you all for your support and look forward to seeing you, if not before, we'll certainly see you next June and have a great round out on the golf course.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports