What makes Pinehurst No. 2’s greens so diabolical? These heat maps reveal all

Tiger Woods reacts to a putt at the U.S. Open; heat map of 16th green

Tiger Woods missing a putt on Pinehurst No. 2's 16th green on Friday. Right: A heat map of the 16th green.

Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

We’ve heard it all week: These Pinehurst No. 2 greens are no joke.

Donald Ross’ iconic domed greens at perhaps his finest design have fooled and flummoxed the best players in the world, with balls rolling over the greens, backing up in front of them, misreads, you name it.

“I think just with the way those greens are, when it gets really firm, and just because you don’t really have any bail-out areas, you’ve just got to take on the golf shots and see where it ends up, and if you don’t pull it off, you’re going to have a really tricky short game shot,” U.S. Open 36-hole leader Ludvig Aberg said Friday night when asked what made Pinehurst so hard.

Because of the difficult green surroundings, we’ve seen players use every club in the bag from putters to 3-woods for shots just off the putting surfaces.

A photo of the par-3 6th hole at Pinehurst No. 2 during the 2024 U.S. Open
Pinehurst No. 2 price: What it costs to play the iconic U.S. Open venue
By: Josh Berhow

We’ve also seen balls that look like they might have settled right next to the hole, take slopes and careen away, like Sepp Straka on Friday.

When you study the slope maps of the greens, you can get a sense of why.

The NBC broadcast has done a great job this week of showcasing the effective green size at Pinehurst No. 2 and when you look at the Green Books for Pinehurst, you get an even better sense of the severeness of the slope and undulations.

By scrolling through the maps below, you’ll see how much red there is around the edges of the greens, especially the par-5 5th, one of the most severe on the course. Red indicates the steepest slopes, while white indicates the flat spots. As you’ll find, there isn’t much white!

Check out the maps for each of Pinehurst No. 2’s 18 greens below and pick up one of your own before you take on the iconic U.S. Open venue.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.