With one day before the 118th US Open begins at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course on the eastern edge of Long Island, New York, I am reminded just how much work goes into hosting a major championship. It was just 4 years ago that the best players in the world arrived in Pinehurst to compete for one of the most sought out trophies in profession golf.
As at Shinnecock Hills, the golf course design firm of Coore and Crenshaw was hired years before the 2014 Open to restore Pinehurst No. 2. When they where done, the manicured rough was replaced with native areas of sand and wire grass, tee boxes pushed back and all 18 greens replaced. Even though not as much restoration was done to Shinnecock to ready it for this year, the planning began years before the 4-day event.
As with all US Opens, the local full-time grounds crew prepares the course for play. Mowing, trimming, watering and fertilizing keeps about 40 grounds crew busy every day for months before the start of the tournament.
During the week of the US Open, the number of maintenance people grows to over 200 with volunteer crews coming from area golf courses to help mow and roll the greens, rake the bunkers and set the pins. Unseen, the crews begin their work well before dawn and finish before the first tee shot each morning.
The tournament will be over on Sunday, but not before years or planning and countless hours of effort by dedicated professionals. Just 6 more years until Pinehurst hosts another US Open, and no doubt the planning has begun.
Article and photo by John Patota, Sandhills Sentinel Contributor.
Feature photo: The 18th hole of Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014 as crews prepared the green for the US Open.