Pinehurst No. 2, which hosted the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in consecutive weeks this summer, has received Golf Digest’s 2014 Green Star Award for Outstanding Environmental Practices.
No. 2 was honored with the award because it has “implemented water reduction programs in startling and instructive ways.” In 2014, Pinehurst No. 2 will use about 73 percent less water than in 2009 – the last full year prior to the beginning of a major restoration project that eliminated bermudagrass rough and re-introduced sand and native wiregrass.
“We’re thrilled to receive this honor from Golf Digest,” said Bob Farren, Pinehurst’s director of golf course and grounds management. “We didn’t set out for this, but I think it shows that we’ve brought Pinehurst No. 2 back to the way it was meant to be played, with firm and fast conditions that reflect the natural terrain of the North Carolina Sandhills.”
Reduced water consumption has been a positive byproduct of the restoration of No. 2. Conducted by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore and completed in 2011, the project sought to return the course to the playing conditions created by Donald Ross in the 1930s, around the time when the course hosted its first major championship and when it began to be regarded as one of the premier layouts in the country. That included restoring a single-line sprinkler system in the fairways and reducing the total number of irrigation heads to 450 from about 1,100.
That was on display this summer during the Open championships when a lack of rainfall in the weeks leading up to the tournaments left its Bermuda fairways “tawny yellow, even brown in places,” according to Golf Digest. But just a month after the Opens concluded, visitors to No. 2 discovered that No. 2’s fairways had returned to green.
“They were not green because the manager had fired up the irrigation system once the USGA had left town,” Golf Digest wrote in its December 2014 issue. “They were green because it had rained. That’s the new policy at Pinehurst No. 2. Let nature dictate course conditions.”
“Pinehurst No. 2 proved it’s a championship test, even when its grass is yellow,” Golf Digest continued.
Golf Digest instituted its Green Star Awards in 2009 to recognize golf facilities that “demonstrate the best in sustainable, efficient and innovative environmental practices that every golf facility could emulate.” Working with a panel of judges, Golf Digest evaluates resorts and courses on several factors: water use and conservation, energy use and conservation, waste disposal, pest and disease management, wildlife promotion, and contribution to the local environment and community.