What better way to get ready for the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 than by opening up the mailbag?

As the premier championship for the country with the most great golf courses capable of hosting major championship golf in the world, any proposed rotation should be large. Scarcity is good for every venue and for this championship there are more than enough courses all across the country that are both willing and able to host. Below is a list of 19 courses that I would love to see host a U.S. Open every 20 years. I left two open spots for courses that might still be built or renovated that become worthy of a spot. The vast majority of the country is represented, excluding the Southwest and Texas, which are just too hot at this time of year.

As for the USGA’s anchor site plan, I really don’t like the move to go back to Pebble and Pinehurst No. 2 so often over the next 25 years. I understand the benefits, but the detriments include robbing huge swaths of country of the chance to host the national open. That’s despite the fact that, as I’m about to lay out, the United States is more than capable of a 20-year rota, unlike the UK’s rota, where the top courses capable and willing to host the Open are obviously excellent but fewer in number. Are all these courses my favorite? No, but one of the points of a national open is to showcase all the different types of golf courses across the country, not just a few handpicked courses that convinced their state’s government to offer the USGA the right incentives in order to host a championship.

  1. Pinehurst No. 2
  2. Shinnecock Hills
  3. The Country Club
  4. Winged Foot
  5. Merion
  6. Los Angeles Country Club
  7. Pebble Beach
  8. Oakmont
  9. Oakland Hills – South Course
  10. Inverness
  11. Southern Hills
  12. Erin Hills
  13. Chambers Bay
  14. Medinah No. 3
  15. Olympia Fields
  16. Interlachen
  17. Riviera
  18. Kiawah Island
  19. Cherry Hills
  20. OPEN
  21. OPEN

Sadly for my fellow Cascadians, professional golf considers the PNW as Canada. Your best bet for high-level golf (unless the USGA adopts my rota) will be the amateur championships coming to Bandon. Speaking of, I really hope they play a U.S. Amateur at Pacific Dunes. Please give me match play on that course and its collection of fascinating half-par holes.

It’s too bad that Tiger hasn’t been able to play consistently ahead of this year’s U.S. Open. Pinehurst should fit his game well, and the weather forecast calls for hot and humid conditions. That should help his back, though god only knows how many shirts he’s going to go through per round. I think distance will be a little less of a prerequisite, while play around the green will be at a premium. He has more shots than anyone in those areas, as we saw when his short game carried him to a made cut at this year’s Masters. But if I had to bet, it would be against him making the cut due to his lack of competitive reps.

In terms of a championship test, probably Pinehurst No. 2, as I love the element of chance and opportunity for heroic recovery that the wiregrass native areas present. I am quite excited to visit Oakmont this fall, though.

I think so. It seems to me that the professional game is too devoted to the notion of fairness. Adding wiregrass to many of the landing areas has removed a lot of chance from Pinehurst No. 2, replacing it with penalty. This is deemed more equitable by many of the best players in the world, but I’d call it more predictable. In my opinion the game is the most fascinating when it’s the furthest from predictable. On the grand scale this is a small change, but it will alter the spirit of Pinehurst’s scrubby waste areas.

I think the very best will still be the best. With short grass, Bermuda, and elevated greens, players with the best technique should be just fine, as long as they embrace creativity in finding the best way to play the kinds of tough shots around these difficult greens, including shots they don’t normally have to consider using.

This isn’t the question you asked, but I just thought about how amazing it would be if the USGA moved the tee up and changed the par from 4 to 3. I would be fascinated to see how the hole would play from 280 as a par 3 as compared to being par 4. My guess is players would be more aggressive if it was labeled a par 3, sparking a wider variance of scoring with more low numbers AND more big numbers. It would be fun if tournament organizers thought about playing with par as well as distance at some tournaments. My theory is that players would play a hole with the same tee and hole location differently if you changed the par. There was a study done a few years ago about this exact dynamic, focusing on Pebble Beach’s second and Oakmont’s ninth holes, which went from par 5s to par 4s. I would love to see the U.S. Open feature variable par setups over the course of a championship.

No, it’s important for golf courses to maintain variety. The worst thing about golf architecture trends is that they can lead to a homogeneous run of work. I think that all golf courses should try to be their best self. For some that means abundant short grass, for others it means a lot of rough.

I played No. 10 as it was being finished and look forward to seeing it again some day soon, but it would be my pick. It has tremendous topography and some beefy golf holes. I was actually kind of shocked at how big of a golf course No. 10 is. One hypothesis I have about No. 10 is that because of how much of an ass-kicker No. 2 is, it gave Tom Doak more freedom to build a “hard” golf course. Challenge is ingrained in the overall identity of Pinehurst Resort, unlike the Keiser resorts which center around “fun.”

No, because Pinehurst No. 2 is a golf course that should host major championships, not one that got major championships because it was owned by the tournament organizers.

1. I was in my attic last week and came across them and decided against bringing them down and back into the rotation. Maybe in the fall.

2. It’s a great question. I think restoration is often about picking out what you believe is the best version of a course. With five U.S. Opens in the next 25 years, I think you could make a compelling argument that given the current goals of the course, the best version of No. 2 features the turtleback greens you see out there today. If the Donald Ross greens were restored I think the course would likely be an easier scoring course than it is today. Given No. 2’s anchor-site status, I think that makes any talk of a restoration far-fetched.

The Sepptic Tank is playing some golf. I like his steady tee-to-green game and vast experience being from Austria—I mean, Valdosta, Georgia. Denny McCarthy generally plays really difficult courses well and has a nice all-around game that should suit him well at Pinehurst No. 2. Sungjae Im had a rough start to the year but has three top 10s in his last four starts. He’s definitely trending the right way and can be machine-like when he’s on.

That’s all we have time for! Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. Stay tuned for what should be a fascinating week of golf.

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