U.S. OPEN: BEWARE OF THE TREACHEROUS TURTLEBACK GREENS AT PINEHURST NO. 2

At Pinehurst No. 2, they say it's not how many greens you hit during a round. It's how many you visit. Due to Pinehurst's unforgiving turtleback greens, simply hitting the green doesn't ensure your ball is going to stay there. 

Let me explain.

If you tune into the 2024 U.S. Open this week, you'll likely hear the broadcasters mention the word "turtleback" to describe the green complexes at Pinehurst No. 2. 

That's not a joke. The greens at Pinehurst look similar to upside-down bowls with the highest point residing somewhere near the center — like a turtle shell. The outside rims of these putting surfaces slope severely off to the sides, waiting to repel inaccurate approach shots and chips in the direction of deep bunkers and sandy waste areas. 

Picture the greens at Pinehurst No. 2 as large onion rings. The only way to land your ball on the surface and keep it there is to hit a precise shot that lands in the middle circle of the onion ring. 

Land your ball on the crunchy outside surface, and it will tumble down the raised section with an untold fate ahead. The only certainty is you won't be on the green.

Pinehurst No. 2's turtleback greens are attributed to Donald Ross, the course architect from 1907. Although that isn't necessarily false, Ross didn't design the greens to have such a severe turtleback effect. The original greens at Pinehurst were much lower to the ground with subtle slopes mixed in. 

To keep them rolling smoothly, Pinehurst aggressively topdressed the putting surfaces (adding layers of sand and clay to the top) for decades. Over time, those layers stacked on top of each other and created the turtleback effect you see today.

When Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw restored the golf course in 2011, they kept the greens exactly how they were to maintain the unique challenge they present.

These treacherous greens will make for an entertaining U.S. Open for us fans, but some of the players aren't too thrilled with how they'll play.

"I mean, they are extremely fast. If they get any firmer and faster, the greens, I mean, they'd be borderline," reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark told reporters this week, per Golf Digest. “They already are borderline.

"... Every putt is fast. I find myself hitting uphill putts six feet by, six, seven feet by. Common theme in our group. I mean, multiple guys' putts off the green. Multiple guys hit putts, they're like, 'Oh, my gosh.' It's definitely the defense right now is the greens."

Bring on the carnage, Pinehurst.

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2024-06-12T22:03:35Z dg43tfdfdgfd