Holding the 2014U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open on consecutive weeks at Pinehurst No. 2 is abrilliant move. There may be no place in the U.S. that loves golf more thanPinehurst, and the course, designed by Donald Ross in 1907, is suited to definethe best player of each gender. No. 2 has no rough around the large crownedgreens; it boasts sandy soil that drains well, Bermuda grass that doesn't needto be grown to obnoxious lengths to be a challenge, ample practice facilitiesand enough hole locations for back-to-back championships. The women will havethe same setup as the men, but shorter and a touch softer. Is playingback-to-back Opens perfect? No. Weather like we had at Bethpage could interruptthe start of a normal Women's Open week. And the USGA might need to readjustpar, since two of the par-5s at Pinehurst, numbers 8 and 16, will be reduced topar-4s for the men. In an ideal world, there would be equal purses, but thedifferences in TV ratings, tickets purchased and hospitality tents sold for themen and the women don't justify such parity. (The Women's Open is the ladies'largest purse of the year: $3.25 million, compared with $7.5 million for themen.) But the upside, particularly for the women's event, is enormous: addedexposure and interest, huge production savings, increased media coverage,possible bargain rates for companies entertaining during both weeks and a rarechance for the Women's Open to not lose money. And what a bonus for fans whoattend. They'll be able to watch the best for two straight weeks and play someworld-class golf on the off days.
Dottie Pepper is a17-year LPGA veteran and an on-course analyst for NBC and Golf Channel.
ILLUSTRATION BY KAGAN MCLEOD (PEPPER)
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