SOUTHERN PINES: One of the most prestigious events in golf, the US Women’s Open, will return to Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in 2022, golf officials announced Wednesday.
This will mark a record fourth time that Pine Needles has hosted a Women’s Open. The first came in 1996, when Annika Sorenstam was crowned champion. Pine Needles is also set to host the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2019.
“We are thrilled to bring another U.S. Women’s Open to one of the most respected courses in the United States,” Stuart Francis, U.S. Golf Association Championship Committee chairman, said in a news release. “Three great USGA champions have conquered the ultimate test in women’s golf at Pine Needles, and we look forward to adding the 77th U.S. Women’s Open champion to that illustrious list.”
Moore County will be a busy place over the next few years. The men’s U.S. Open will return to the Pinehurst Resort for the fourth time in 2024. The men’s and women’s U.S. Opens were held back to back for the first time at Pinehurst in 2014.
The Women’s U.S. Open was last held at Pine Needles in 2007, when Cristie Kerr won the first of her two majors with a two-stroke victory over Lorena Ochoa and Angela Park. Karrie Webb won the championship at Pine Needles in 2001.
Golfers and spectators alike will see a new layout at Pine Needles in 2022. Two years ago, the course switched to bermuda greens and rearranged tee boxes and fairway bunkers, said Kelly Miller, the resort’s president. Fairways were lengthened and widened, with little rough remaining in a return to famed designer Donald Ross’ original layout, Miller said.
But the USGA will have the ultimate say over the course layout for the Open. It could choose to narrow and shorten the fairways, Miller said, adding that one of the virtues of the course is its flexibility. He said Shannon Rouillard, director of the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, was at Pine Needles on Sunday and Monday to get a better lay of the land. Rouillard played golf Monday with Donna Andrews, a legend in the sport and a professional at Pine Needles.
Another legend who will be missed at the next Women’s Open at Pine Needles is golf pioneer Peggy Kirk Bell, the resort’s owner who died two years ago at age 95. At the 2007 Women’s Open, Bell could be seen giving lessons and maneuvering her golf cart around the masses lined along the fairways. Bell was widely credited with bringing the first three Women’s U.S. Opens to Pine Needles.
“I can only imagine how happy Mrs. Bell would have been to host another Women’s Open,” Miller said.
Reg Jones, the USGA’s managing director of Open championships, roughly estimated that the return of the U.S. Women’s Open to Pine Needles will provide an economic boost to the area of between $25 million and $35 million. Jones has been overseeing USGA championship since he came to Pinehurst in 1994.
“When you look at the growth of this community, I think championship golf has had a big impact with that,” Jones said.
This will be the 34th USGA championship in North Carolina, which most recently hosted the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.