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Golf’s ‘Anchor Sites’ Have the U.S. Open on a Lifetime Plan

  • Pinehurst No. 2 is the first of three ‘anchor sites’ to host a U.S. Open.
  • The North Carolina course will host four more championships through 2047.
USGA/Chris Keane
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A new U.S. Open champion still needs to be crowned at Pinehurst. But it won’t be long until golfers are back in North Carolina to vie for another title.

The United States Golf Association’s crown jewel dates back to 1895 and has been staged at more than 50 venues. This year’s event, however, marks the start of a new era focused on “anchor sites.” The label describes a trio of famous courses that will play a major recurring role in hosting the country’s top championship: Pinehurst No. 2, Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, and Pebble Beach Golf Links in Northern California.

These anchor sites are already holding down much of the U.S. Open calendar for the next two and a half decades:

  • Pinehurst: 2024, ’29, ’35, ’41, ’47
  • Oakmont: 2025, ’33, ’42, ’49
  • Pebble Beach: 2027, ’32, ’37, ’44

Beyond these three main venues, the USGA has also named a trio of other courses that will host multiple future U.S. Opens: New York’s Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (2026, ’36), Pennsylvania’s Merion Golf Club (’30, ’40, ’50), and Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan (’34, ’51). 

During a preview event for the U.S. Open, John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s chief championships officer, acknowledged the perceived absurdity in booking so many future championships. “I get this question a lot: ‘Why in the heck are you going out so far with the U.S. Open? I’m not going to be alive in 2051,’” he said. But Bodenhamer insists there’s tactical thinking behind the choice: The consistency of host venues opens the door to boundless opportunities beyond creating a stronger identity for the championship.

For example, there could be far-reaching sustainability effects for the resource-intensive sport. At Pinehurst No. 2, which opened in 1907, a regular spot in the major rotation paves the way for the additions of underground power and water lines, elimination of diesel generators, and new permanent roadways for employees and fans.

“Anchor site planning has allowed us to be very strategic and think long-term about how we can produce the best championships together,” Pinehurst Resort president Tom Pashley said. Beyond the five U.S. Opens it’ll host between 2024 and ’47, several other Pinehurst courses will also host a plethora of other USGA championships—one every three years throughout the next 25—including the U.S. Women’s Open as well as the men’s and women’s U.S. Amateurs.

Pashley believes the “anchor” designation can elevate every element of the game. And the setup provides an opportunity for all anchor courses to soar—even those that are already thriving.

Pinehurst, for instance, is already connected to “the soul of American golf,” Bob Dedman Jr., who serves as the resort’s CEO, tells Front Office Sports. Now, premier golf events like the U.S. Open help the resort’s bottom line well beyond tournament week. 

“The U.S Open goes to a lot of private clubs, and I think a private club has a different perspective than a public resort,” Pashley tells FOS. He points to the first U.S. Open at Pinehurst hosted in 1999. “Most places would use school buses to bring fans to the venue,” Pashley says. “We rented air-conditioned motor coaches, because we viewed every person who came to the championship as a potential future guest.” Pinehurst also hosted U.S. Opens in 2005 and ’14.

Matt Gibson/Pinehurst Resort

Boosted by a high conversion rate of U.S. Open attendees to eventual resort guests, business at Pinehurst is good. So good, in fact, that a new course just opened that will be the centerpiece of a secondary campus, a few miles away from course No. 2 and its main clubhouse. Pinehurst No. 10 (above), which opened in April, is the resort’s first new, 18-hole course in three decades. It’s the first installment at Pinehurst Sandmines, a vast piece of land that spans 900 acres. 

While nothing is confirmed, leaders have master-planned and mapped out another 18-hole course (Pinehurst No. 11, perhaps?) as well as the potential for two additional short courses and up to 40 golf cottages. “This could be a destination within the destination,” Pashley says. “There may be people who would come on a golf trip, stay here, and never venture out to go to the main campus, which has kind of become golf’s national park.” 

Pinehurst is poised to reap the benefits in the coming years as its schedule fills; just like in 2014, the course will host the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in back-to-back weeks in ’29.

But Dedman assures that even with big plans, the spirit and mystique of these venerated courses will stay firmly intact. “When you think about the core village and the operations there, those aren’t going to change that much,” he says.

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