RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – To help Pinehurst Resort achieve the restoration of course No. 2 to its intended design circa 1948, North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Environmental Science, a division of Bayer CropScience LP, partnered with Pinehurst to help understand the diversity of plant species in reclaimed native areas and the implications for course management. Superintendents can view a new video Bayer developed with NCSU and Pinehurst to share key learnings from the restoration project that may help them better manage natural areas and create a more sustainable ecosystem at their course.
The restoration of course No. 2 to its intended design called for a return to indigenous native grasses, fewer acres of turf under intensive management and sustainable pest management techniques. To understand the ecological and agronomic implications of this undertaking, Pinehurst solicited support from NCSU. Tom Rufty, Ph.D., distinguished professor, NCSU, chose to support the research project as an educational opportunity for students and a way to help Pinehurst prepare for the U.S. Open. Working in partnership with Bayer, 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.
Bob Farren and Kevin Robinson, CGCS, superintendent of Pinehurst No.2, managed the $2.5 million restoration project launched by Pinehurst in 2011. Farren and Robinson brought in course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to help restore the natural and historic character of course No. 2, which Donald Ross designed and built in 1907 with the philosophy to provide golfers with strategic choices. The restoration project included work on every hole. To support the necessary agronomic research, Bayer funded a graduate student at NCSU to conduct the agronomic research under Dr. Seth Carley’s direction.
Pinehurst eliminated from course No. 2 all rough and 35 acres of irrigated turf, which reintroduced natural areas of sand, wire grass, pine straw and a variety of native grasses. More than 200,000 wire grass plants were added. Restoring the original irrigation design back to a single centerline layout eliminated 650 irrigation heads. This has helped reduce the annual course water consumption from 55 million gallons to 12 million gallons – a savings of more than 78 percent. Other course updates included the elimination of overseeding during winter months, increased course length, bunker modifications and alterations to the cart paths. Fairways were widened by as much as 50 percent, offering more strategic options in playing holes from tee to green.