2014 U.S. Open: Spectators can expect a great walk amongst welcoming hosts

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

PINEHURST, N.C. – Just less than a week away from practice rounds beginning at the 2014 U.S. Open to be played at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club’s No. 2 course, the scenes in and around the Village of Pinehurst were all coming together on Tuesday.

Driving into the area from Raleigh wasn’t a problem at lunchtime, but with the number of people expected to attend both USGA championships, as the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open will take place the week following, a projected crowd of 350,000 people will be moved around as part of a strategic parking and shuttle plan that will get everyone into, around, and out of the area as seamlessly as possible.

Depending upon when spectators arrive, like any U.S. Open or major sporting event for that matter, expect traffic slowdowns.

For those who time it right and arrive early, they will get to their assigned lot, enjoy the entire day and experience few problems, while those who arrive later will join many others and require a little more patience to appreciate the experience.

For ACC and major college football fans, described another way, it will most resemble driving onto a college campus on football gameday.

That’s exactly how Old Sport and Gallery owner and former PGA pro and current Pinehurst member Tom Stewart described it.

“Having the U.S. Open on your home golf course is like having the Super Bowl coming to your high school stadium,” Stewart said.

“It’s that big of a deal.”

During both tournaments, internal roads around Pinehurst Resort and the Village Green area will be closed, so if you’re from out of town, and get a little frustrated, the feeling from some of the locals will be mutual.

They’ll have to be patient too, but they’ll use their golf carts to meander through the crowds of people visiting the area with smiles on their faces to be sure.

With less than a week to go, the energy and enthusiasm shown by those working and living in the area was evident.

These people know how to host a U.S. Open party because they’ve done it many times before.

To help visitors, the Village of Pinehurst Welcome Center located in the Theatre Building is a great starting point, and if you can’t get there, many local ambassadors will be walking around the area outside the tournament to help everyone with information and directions accordingly.

The residents and business people of Pinehurst will be hosting a third U.S. Open at Pinehurst and seventh overall USGA major championship event in the area including this year’s first-ever U.S. Women’s Open Championship played on No. 2, after three previous were played at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.

They are looking forward to showing off what they enjoy every day – a great area to live, walk and work in with like-minded people who all have an appreciation for golf.

They will once again share their ‘home of golf’ for two weeks.

While many in attendance will take in the action every day on No. 2 and inside all of the hundreds of hospitality and merchandise tents peppered around the course on the resort grounds comprised of Courses 1, 3, 4, and 5, there will also be interactive events going on in the Pinehurst Village Green area – a first-time thing.

Beginning June 10th and running through June 22nd, those who aren’t attending the tournament or have taken a break from it, can still take in myriad related events, the U.S. Open Experience, including watching the final rounds of both championships on a big screen in Tufts Park.

Of course the experience of being onsite and amongst those surrounding the green on No. 2 on Sunday can’t be replaced by watching it on a big screen, taking it all in not even half-a-mile away in the heart of Pinehurst won’t be bad either.

Regardless of what day you get there, It is advisable to get a map from wherever your starting point is – your hotel, the Welcome Center, or if you’re driving in, getting one from the town’s website that has the small, detailed street names on it.

For the technologically advanced and arrogant, don’t get frustrated if you can’t find exactly where you want to go, particularly if it’s a certain restaurant or shop in the Village.

According to Pinehurst Welcome Center volunteer Carolyn Gordon, “your GPS may not find precisely the place you’re looking for.”

“It’s best to come see us or get a map from the website.”

Remember, you can’t have cell or smartphones anywhere on the golf course, so if you leave the tournament and head to the Village and don’t have your phone handy, going old-school with a map in hand will do the trick.

The Village proper is not very large in area, so you’ll figure it out pretty quickly and if you’re hungry, enjoy some great food at the Too Blonde Tavern, Theo’s Taverna, or Dugan’s Irish Pub.

If you do get a little lost, don’t worry, the many signs posted will direct you back to the middle – kind of like going out on the front nine and coming in from the back nine.