Roddy Carr Previews The 2024 Us Open

Roddy Carr Previews The 2024 Us Open

Share this:

I remember distinctly my first experience playing on ‘browns’. It was in my early years, on tour in the Nigerian Open in the 1970s. It took me completely by surprise to play golf to flat greens, that were just oiled sand, that had been rolled early that morning. They didn’t take spin. The ball just plonked down and stayed where it landed. With very little undulations and consistent medium paced greens, you could be very aggressive. David Jagger won three Nigerian Opens with a short stabby upright stroke. It looked like he would never miss a putt. Peter Tupling shot 255, still a record on the European Tour, winning the event in 1981.

It never occurred to me that they would have ever played on sand greens in America. Let alone at the famous Pinehurst No. 2, host to this week’s US Open. But this was the case back in the early thirties. It was that sandy soil that attracted golf’s most famous and prolific architect of that time, Donald Ross, to move to Pinehurst. There, he would live on site, and build his masterpiece. Ross, coming from Dornoch in Scotland, would have surely been drawn to the sandy terrain, and the natural movements mother nature had carved out over the years. 

Donald Ross

It would also have influenced the strategy he deployed on the greens and their surrounds, which demand skills akin to what is required on hard fast Open Championship links courses. He set out to make Pinehurst No. 2 a comprehensive challenge for the best players in the world. As someone who had finished 4th in the Open, Ross knew exactly how to do that. He was also brave and creative, in the way he introduced wide swathes of sandy waste bunkers to frame holes and dictate the strategy without the use of rough. He always worked with the land and never against it. Making each hole pleasing to the eye and a picture frame in itself, set against the backdrop of tall indigenous pine trees.


There will be none of the traditional unplayable rough, bordering each hole at this year’s US Open. There is no need for it. The sandy waste bunkers have been populated naturally and randomly, with wild native wiregrass. They will provide a far more intriguing challenge to those that dare to attack her. The touch and imagination required around the smaller greens, which are mostly raised, will also separate the men from the boys. Particularly in the creative shot making category.

The DNA of Pinehurst 2 is unto itself. The list of Major winners, over the years at Pinehurst, and what has happened to them afterwards, is also a little strange. Michael Campbell, Martin Kaymer and Michele Wie’s careers all declined sharply after winning at Pinehurst. Payne Stewart died tragically in a plane crash, just four months after famously beating Phil Mickelson on the 72nd hole with an iconic birdie putt.

The big question this week will be, is there any way to stop Scottie Scheffler’s incredible run?

Paul McGinley and Roddy Carr

Last week I had the pleasure of playing a round with Des Smyth and Paul McGinley at Portmarnock. Over lunch Paul rattled off the stats on Scheffler. Confirming the run he is on at present, is statistically the richest ever vein of form in the modern game. That includes Tiger’s dominant stretch in 1999 when he won eight times! When you hear this, and then you think of him walking down the fairways, with so little fuss, and with no halo of charisma surrounding him like Tiger, Jack or Arnie had, it makes it even more impressive.

Ten years ago, if you had predicted, that a player who does a mini-Irish jig with his feet on his tee shots, would dominate the way he is, you’d have been laughed at. Such is the modern game. There is a refreshing freedom it promotes, for young players to do their own thing and be themselves.

Kaymer won at Pinehurst by 8 shots by deciding, in the practice rounds, that we would use his putter from off the greens all week. This was on the basis that he was holing everything from 10 feet. Fitzpatrick could adopt a similar strategy that could see him win again. Rory who is one of the best chippers in the game will feel very much at home at Pinehurst on the greens and surrounds.  It is very much like he would be used to on Royal County Down. And it’s time for him bury the elephant in the room!

My father always loved the Majors and enjoyed having a ‘flutter’ on outsiders. Of the longer odd’s players Fleetwood’s accuracy with his iron play could see him in contention. Jason Day’s and Cameron Smith’s touch around the greens could also pay dividends. Robert MacIntyre coming off a win is well priced, as is Justin Rose, a US Open specialist.

It’s going to be a fun week at an iconic and historic venue that will be full of drama. 

Roddy Carr                                                                                                                               
June 2024

Share this: