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Punch Shot: More back-to-back U.S. Opens?

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Two weeks of incredible golf on an iconic course. No rain delays. Very few, if any, course maintenance issues.

The USGA's grand experiment of hosting the men's and women's U.S. Opens in back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst No. 2 was a huge gamble and a huge success. Now that they've done it once, should the USGA do it again? And, if so, where? The Golfchannel.com team weighs in.

BY RYAN LAVNER

Remember all of the pre-Open talk about divots and practice time, and the potential for the women to be embarrassed? How silly that looks now.

The back-to-back Opens went off without a hitch, and the two best players in the world – in current form, not ranking – were crowned champions. Really, it couldn’t have gone any better.

The dual Opens shouldn’t happen more than once a decade, and the guess here is that it won’t.

With that in mind, the next logical choice for a double dip is Torrey Pines in 2021. The San Diego muni was the site of arguably the most compelling Open of this generation, and the doubleheader on such a breathtaking piece of property could be a huge hit, especially with the West Coast weather.


BY JASON SOBEL

Absolutely the USGA should try this experiment once again – if not for the coolness factor for players and fans, then just as good business. Being able to maintain infrastructure – from corporate tents to bleachers to concessions – for a second week was undoubtedly a blessing in disguise.

Now, where should they attempt this double again? Take your pick – there's no wrong answer.

I'll go with Pebble Beach. If you're going to make this a two-week festival of cool, might as well go to the coolest course in the country. (Sorry, Augusta National, you get "iconic"; Pebble does "cool" better.)

Toss in two weeks of primetime golf on the East Coast and you've already got a winning combination right there.

In fact, I wonder if we're not too far away from a time when back-to-back Opens at the same venue isn't the norm. It makes sense for everyone involved, so might as well make this an annual staple.


BY REX HOGGARD

There was no way that should have worked. Two weeks of championship golf on one very stressed-out course, the litany of reasons why back-to-back U.S. Opens at Pinehurst was a potential recipe for disaster was deeper than both fields.

The grass would be dead following the U.S. Open, the women would spend their week dodging divots and there was no way Mother Nature would cooperate for 14 consecutive days.

And what would happen if the U.S. Open spilled over into an 18-hole Monday playoff?

But there was no playoff, Martin Kaymer made sure of that, or weather issues or any issues for that matter.

With few exceptions, the USGA's fortnight in Pinehurst was a success – two worthy champions and plenty of added exposure for the Women’s Open, which was a primary motivation for the grand experiment.

Perhaps the Open double wouldn’t work everywhere, but imagine the attention back-to-back championships at Pebble Beach would generate.

Consider the buzz consecutive Opens at Torrey Pines or Bethpage’s Black Course would create.

The weather won’t always cooperate and eventually there will be a Monday playoff at the U.S. Open that would throw a wrinkle into the delicate balance that worked so well last week.

But considering how successful the last two weeks were, it’s worth the risk.


BY RANDALL MELL

Yes, I want to see another doubleheader. I'd like to see it every year, but I understand it's just not practical, mostly because it takes a unique course to stage the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open in back-to-back weeks.

Pinehurst's rough-hewn design – with its Bermuda grasses and native waste areas – were perfect for this.

Walking on the 18th green Sunday after Wie won, it was staggering to see how healthy the putting surface was after two weeks of stress. Divots in the fairways and around the greens weren't the issue they would be on most Northeast, Midwest and West Coast courses. The quality and condition of Pinehurst No. 2 was critical to this success.

USGA head man Mike Davis was right about every projection he made about this grand experiment. Pinehurst No. 2 was his ally pulling this off. So bring it back to Pinehurst in 2022.