PINEHURST, N.C. – Ten days into a two-week experiment, Mike Davis still believes that brown is beautiful.
While the look and presentation of a rough-less and browned-out Pinehurst No. 2 received some criticism last week – notably from Donald Trump – Davis reiterated Wednesday that the course has looked, and played, just as the USGA had hoped when they decided to host back-to-back Opens.
“This is what used to be here in the 1930s and 1940s – not exactly, but almost,” said Davis, the USGA’s executive director. “When you look at those old photographs, this is what you saw.”
Davis noted that as part of the 2011 renovation by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the course reverted back to single-line irrigation. Combined with a relatively dry spring, the irrigation change has caused the edges of the fairways to brown, a natural process that the USGA had no interest in reversing, artificially or otherwise.
“I think it’s just allowing Mother Nature to have more control versus manipulating what the look and the playability is,” Davis said. “We think it’s a great environmental statement.”
While Davis insists the USGA has been pleased with the results thus far this week in terms of course setup and performance, he added that the two-toned setting at Pinehurst is largely the exception for what the organization seeks, rather than the rule.
“No one should walk away here thinking that the USGA is anti-green golf courses,” he said. “We’re not. We’re absolutely not. But as I said before, we’re focused on less water, more bouncy conditions and less focus on the periphery.”