On Par at Pinehurst


Thank you for your weekly tips and interesting commentary. I look forward to your advice and I am the proud owner of a Frankly Frog putter.

This week the U.S. Open comes to my home state of North Carolina and I was amazed to read that Pinehurst No. 2 is  being played at over 7500 yards.

What is your take on distance being used as a major factor to challenge the best players in the world?

Cameron, NC



We are pleased that you are enjoying our weekly commentary and thank you for being a proud Frog owner.

I think that when we continually lengthen courses to make them more of a challenge, we are losing an important part of what the game is all about and are only giving the longer hitters the edge.

It is my belief that to win a championship, golfers should be required to exhibit skills in every aspect of the game and be rewarded accordingly. The ability to hit the ball a long way is one of these skills, but it should not be the predominant skill required.

This year, Pinehurst No.2 will be played at 7562 yards which is 348 yards longer than it played in 2005 but the par will remain at 70.

It is very interesting how much emphasis we place on par. We seem to judge how challenging a course is based on par. Viewers are also led to believe that the difficulty of a hole is based on the average score compared to par.

For instance, a long par 4 may be described as the hardest hole on the course, however by changing its designation to a par 5 it may, without anything else being changed, become the easiest hole on the course.

What do you think about the extraordinary length of championship courses today and the importance of par? Have your say by replying below.




14 thoughts on “On Par at Pinehurst

  1. As I drive the ball on average about 210-225 and will be 72, I simply use the senior tees or there are none, the forward tees used mostly by women. It is a lot more fun using a short iron than a 5 wood or 3 hybrid and a wedge. Pinehurst should have been easy for Bubba, the longest driver on the PGA tour, but he fell off the map. Longer does not always win.

  2. I am concerned about the lengthening of courses as well. I play from the correct set of tees for my game, but what has that to do with tournament golf? When the David Toms of this world are relegated to second tier competitors by the length of the course, I think anyone should be concerned about the state of the game. So much for the level playing field they are supposed to enjoy. If the value of Driver distance outweighs the value of the second shot, then I think we miss a large part of the equation. Let’s face it, every one likes a long Drive, but a strategic golf course may put a 3 wood in the hands of a longer tour player, negating some of his advantage. I seem to remember a pretty good US Open last year that did just that. After all the talk of it being “obsolete”, a strategic set up made it a wonderful thing to watch. Length should not be the only defense of a golf course set up for competition. That strategy seems to me to be the “lowest common denominator”.

  3. I think with Pinehurst they have done a good job of restoring the course to the original spirit and that the added length for the US Open just gives additional tee options. As others said, they will probably not use the total length. I have not seen or played the course, but looking at the scorecard and diagrams, it seems they have sets of tees arranged that would give all golfers a chance to see and play the course as it was intended. I like the natural areas that have been restored to an unkempt style, and in the process they have reduced the acreage that has to be watered or fertilized.

  4. I believe length is not the only deterent to low scores. It does take some out of the picture……but for the most part they have already removed themselves…by saying they have no chance. I kinda like the idea of having no par stated…….the lowest score wins….but I would bet before the second round the average score per hole would be somewhere….. Birdie-fest are nice every now and then, but IMO not at majors. Every aspect of a players game should be examined at some point through out the course. My two cents………

  5. When the “play it forward” campaign began several years ago, it confirmed that in the last several decades courses have been built too long.

  6. Hi Frank:
    I really appreciate your comments on different tópics about this great game.
    With respect to the length of major Championship venues, I think it is only natural than courses be lenghthened for the pros, especially on the Majors. The USGA finds ways to level the playing field for All players.
    I have seem some of the restoration work Messrs. Coore and Crenshaw did to make the Course resemble moré like the original Donald Ross design and conditions. I really love what was done.
    This will be a shot maker U.S. Open. Even or +1 could WIN.

  7. For a long time I have said to anyone who would listen that Par is just a number. What really counts is the total amount of strokes taken at the end of 72 holes (or 18, or 9, or however many holes are being played). Par is just an easy way to monitor progress as the game progresses. So whether a 550 yard hole is Par 4 or Par 5 does not matter in the long run. At the end of the day, it is the number of shots taken to play the hole that is what counts.

  8. How come there are no par 2 and par 6 holes? It seems everything is either par 3,4,or 5. My personal par on one of my favorite courses is 45 for 9 holes because it is too long and too severe for me to score much better. The other day, I shot 44 and was very happy because I shot 1 under par!!

    I think the majors should have winning scores at par or higher. They should shorten some of courses to take the driver out of play more often and make the players have to hit strategic shots off the tee and into the greens. Too much length is bad for golf!

  9. Hate it. Not just for the reasons you mention, Frank, but because of the extra cost to maintain such lengths. Who gets to pay for it? We do…

  10. I prefer the Open where weather and course conditions dictate the score. Having written that the USGA rarely if ever uses the entire length of a course on a given day. In actuality it will be set up at around 7,200. The additional length affords options. That’s great for the select few that have the game to handle all of this. We have to stop making rules and changes to accomodate them, because they are easily accomodated by the choice of courses and course set ups each week and start being more concerned with accomodating the average player and even better the person who is curious about learning to play.

  11. If one looks back into golf history, at one time bogey was “par” and when new equipment and techniques made the ball go farther, then par became “par”. Maybe we need a new word for this era?

  12. I would like to see a tournament with “this year there is no par” or “every hole is a par 4” Low score still wins.

  13. I totally disagree with the design of golf courses going longer. It takes the fun out of playing golf for the average player, who maybe can only hit a drive 200-225 yards.
    Some courses are even making the rough longer, making it even more difficult for the average golfer. Losing balls and hurting oneself trying to get out off the rough is not much fun.
    Even moving to the forward tees on some courses is not much of a compensation on some courses.
    No wonder so many average golfers are giving up the game.
    I almost did several years ago, but I enjoy it too much.

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