For just about everyone but Martin Kaymer, Pinehurst No. 2 is playing pretty difficult this week. Surely, nerves and testy pins will make it an increasingly arduous weekend, too.
Whenever the USGA comes around to trick-out a golf course for their prized event, it seems like a one-time, pros-only test. Well, that’s not the case at Pinehurst. With the help of the game-improvement app developers over at GAME GOLF, we are able to compare stats from the first two rounds with that of a collection of amateurs who have already played No. 2 this season.
Those amateurs averaged a score of 87.83 playing Pinehurst this spring. And we all know how the pros have fared thus far, with just 13 players sitting under par, and just six more at even. Through the first two rounds, the scoring average was 144.32, or just worse than 2-over each round (72.16).
Thus far, it seems like Pinehurst treats everyone the same way (again, excluding Mr. Kaymer). The toughest hole for the pros this week? It’s No. 11, a 483-yard par-4 that conceded just 17 birdies in the two rounds compared to 116 bogeys or worse, generating a 4.38 average. The same goes for GAME GOLF amateur scores; not a single par or birdie was made by the group.
No. 6 -- a 219-yard par-3 -- has only surrendered nine birdies to the pros in two rounds, a 3 percent conversion rate. Likewise, only a handful of amateurs from the group were lucky enough to make par.
So parts of Pinehurst are playing just as they do for amateurs. For other parts, however, that’s not the case. The biggest discrepancy out there? Hole No. 8, which, at first glance, seems oddly difficult for the pros, but conceded more birdies than any other hole for the amateurs.
How so? The 500-yarder plays as a shorter-than-normal par-5 for the GAME GOLF amateurs and a stretched par-4 for the pros. More shots for par means a much easier approach to this green that doesn’t receive long-irons very well.
The other oddity came at No. 13, a par-4 playing around 385 yards this week, which has been the third-easiest hole according to par for the pros. Coincidentally, it was the second-toughest for the amateur group. The blue tees normally play around 375 yards during a non-U.S. Open week, so it’s no surprise that just 10 yards of difference can make a hole much easier for the guys who are paid to play.
Obviously there will always be differences on the course, like weather conditions, pin locations, etc., that influence the battle with Old Man Par. If the hole-by-hole stats tell us anything, it’s that Pinehurst doesn’t mess around. Birdies are at a premium, amateur or professional. It’s going to be tough for just about everyone out there. Everyone not named Martin Kaymer.