Male readers most likely can complete the remainder of the saying in the title of this article. All of us have our own battle scars resulting from actions deemed inconsiderate by the opposite sex. Well this is about to take place again on a “Major” golf stage. In June the USGA will be contesting it’s two elite national championships in North Carolina at the venerable Pinehurst Number 2 layout. What makes this occasion unique is they will be played back-to-back, boys first. At the time this decision may have seemed like a great idea but I think it’s going to create “major” controversy.
There are several issues surrounding this decision, some good, some bad. From a logistics standpoint it makes sense to prep the same venue with the infrastructure necessary to host a major championship. In effect you don’t have to set up for two separate events. One set of bleachers will house folks watching Rory, Phil, Adam, Tiger and one day later Stacy, Inbee, Michelle and Suzann. The hospitality tents will have signage flipped but not menus as corporations wine and dine their clients. The transportation and parking will be in place plus NBC will have their wires buried and their blimp ready. Yes, it all makes perfect sense.
I see potential issues however that are bound to ruffle a few feathers. First, it’s obvious the USGA has relegated the females players to the role of second class citizens by having them follow their male counterparts immediately after they complete the U.S. Open. When the men show up at Pinehurst on Monday the grounds will be pristine and the playing conditions ideal from weeks of rest and preparations by the USGA and the grounds crew. Contrast that to what the women will face on their first day of practice. You can’t help think they will will feel like they’ve been slighted in some fashion. Maybe the USGA owes the women an opportunity to play first the next time they come up with this scenario.
Another consideration will be playing conditions. Greens and tees shouldn’t be a problem as long as the committee for the mens event doesn’t allow the issue of green speed and dryness to escape them. Keeping green surfaces smooth, fast and alive in a North Carolina June could be a challenge. The main issue will be the fairways. Imagine a week’s worth of sand-filled divots from the men dotting fairways the women will be competing on days later? That wouldn’t make me happy especially coming off last year’s tournament at Sebonack. Conditions on the Long Island venue were ideal for the women. It won’t be the same at Pinehurst.
What could really throw this this two-week garden party off course is a tie at the end of 72 holes for the men. If that occurs the championship will be decided by an 18 hole playoff on Monday. How would you like to be a participant in the Women’s Open and have one of your practice days cancelled? Guys, you know the consequences when something is taken away from a woman. They aren’t happy.
While the USGA may be more efficient by only having to erect one infrastructure for two events (and also increasing their bottom line), they will “open” themselves to several concerns they may not have properly considered. The men’s schedule will not be affected. They will play a groomed course under the best conditions. In all likelihood by Sunday evening they’ll be long gone from the sandhills. The women will be left to play a less-than-pristine venue.
As this article was being prepared I called the USGA to ask about the potential of a Monday playoff for the men impacting the practice schedule for the women. The USGA office in Pinehurst indicated a press release would be forthcoming although a timeline was not definitive. It seems this possibility will throw a wrench in things. I can’t see an early morning playoff followed by afternoon practice rounds but that will probably be the only solution. Television will have a large say in the process. Either way my guess is the women will again be inconvenienced.
Women scorned in Pinehurst? We’ll find out in June.