Pinehurst and the surrounding areas ready for historical back-to-back U.S. Opens
Virginia Golf Report – By Frank Giordano
The moment Justin Rose’s final putt dropped at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, the Village of Pinehurst’s tourism, golf, hospitality and dining establishments shifted into high gear. For the first time in history the USGA is conducting both the Men’s and Women’s U.S. Opens on the same course, Pinehurst #2, on consecutive weeks, in June, 2014.
According to Caleb Miles, the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen areas, the magnitude of that enterprise has energized innumerable organizations, ranging from the North Carolina Department of Transportation
to small local dining and shopping venues. The work of preparing to move tens of thousands of visitors – 43,000-48,000 anticipated daily for the Men’s Open — and lodging, feeding, and entertaining them for two full weeks, seems unimaginable. Thus, long before Rose’s last putt, for the past 2 1/2 years in fact, the local Chamber of Commerce and the Convention & Visitors Bureau have been working with the USGA, the resort, the state and a dozen surrounding counties, to ensure that visiting golf fans will feel as welcome, comfortable, and richly entertained as possible during the Opens.
In 2005, the USGA established a high benchmark for shuttling visitors around Pinehurst during that year’s U.S. Open. For 2014 they have commandeered local bus fleets from around the region to handle the upcoming massive transportation task. Local school systems are ending their school years early and renting their buses for the two weeks. As the small village cannot handle the thousands of vehicles arriving for the championships, the USGA will locate satellite parking facilities around the perimeter of Pinehurst; free shuttle buses will run continuously to carry visitors to the course. Those who drive into Pinehurst for the tournament will find improved signage on the highways, some of which will have been widened recently, to enhance mobility and safety around the village. Miles notes that visitors who fly into the Raleigh Durham Airport will find digital signs welcoming them, special baggage handling areas, and buses poised to take them directly into Pinehurst. Those who fly into the Moore County Airport in corporate or private planes will find expanded facilities ranging from longer runways, an additional flight control tower, and new lounges for the arriving visitors and pilots.
Because of their staffing needs, the USGA has contracted with many of the local resorts, hotels, and motels to accommodate their people and the hordes of media professionals from around the world who will be descending on Pinehurst. Of the 10,000 rooms needed to house visitors, the local towns of Pinehurst, Southern Pines, and Aberdeen provide a mere 2500. Thus, it is not too soon for those wishing to attend the opens to seek suitable lodging. The Convention & Visitors Bureau has an invaluable website, www.homeofgolf.com, which is the perfect starting point for identifying all the services and providers tourists will need.