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  • While most of the world’s eyes are being drawn to the sunny shores of Brazil for this year’s World Cup, Golf enthusiasts are currently casting their eyes towards a different sort of turf. This month the United States Golf Association will be hosting the 99th edition of its Annual U.S. Open; and to celebrate the occasion they will be hosting the tournament at the equally prestigious golf course ‘Pinehurst No.2.’

    While ‘Pinehurst’ is no stranger to the hosting of major golf tournaments, spectators and players alike will be surprised to find this year’s course is anything but the fair they’re used to. Through a cooperative effort, the people at ‘Pinehurst’ have teamed up with North Carolina State University and Bayer Environmental Science to re-create and re-imagine what a golf course is meant to be in the 21st century. With an eye towards creating a more sustainable/ecologically conscious golf course, ‘Pinehurst’ has recently undergone a major renovation that see’s it returned back to its intended design.


    In an attempt to re-create the course, circa 1948, the people at Pinehurst have made a concerted effort to re-introduce native North Carolina grasses and vegetation. More than 35 acres of Bermuda turf grass were removed and replaced by a sandy floor to more accurately represent North Carolina’s native topography, while 200 000 wiregrass plants were added, again with the intention of creating a more natural course.


    “America’s golf course superintendents are increasingly being asked to manage their courses in a way that reduces playing time, conserves and protects natural resources and allows operating costs—all without sacrificing playability.” Said Bob Farren, director of golf course and grounds management at Pinehurst. “The restoration of course No. 2 is about preserving more than just the historic character of the course—it’s about developing new and more sustainable tools and techniques as an industry.”


    To understand the ecological and agronomic implications of this undertaking, Pinehurst solicited support from NCSU in the run-up to the U.S. Open. NCSU helped Pinehurst develop a seasonal plan that included recommended agronomic practices and products to ensure the appropriate management of native plant species while maintaining the degree of difficulty in play desired. To support the two year project, Bayer funded graduate students at NCSU to conduct the agronomic research.

    “Pinehurst is a high-profile example of how golf courses are changing,” said Richard Rees, Ph.D, senior principal scientist of Environmental Science North America. “We see this as an opportunity to support golf course superintendents with new technology and innovative solutions that support their evolving role and needs.” Through restoring the original irrigation design, the annual water consumption for instance, will be reduced by 78 percent.


    “More sustainable golf course management is an emerging trend in the U.S., where the equivalent acreages of 1000 new courses has been converted to natural areas over the past few years. And we are helping superintendents with holistic solutions, such as Specticle, to navigate natural area weed control,” says David Wells, ES Business manager for Golf in the U.S.


    Early reviews of the restoration have been more than positive: Ernie Els, a two-time U.S. Open Champion, was amazed when he walked off the 18th green. “I was a bit nervous when I heard of the redo. But this looks like it’s been here for a long time. Now, you’re going to have an unbelievable championship!” While Phil Mickelson adds “I’ve been raving about how great this place is for weeks.”

    Visit to view a video about the restoration and the “new/old” Pinehurst No. 2!

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