What’s the key to winning at Pinehurst? Former champ explains

pro golfer michelle wie west with her caddie during the 2014 u.s. women's open

Michelle Wie West won the 2014 U.S. Women's Open contested at Pinehurst No. 2.

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Pinehurst No. 2 isn’t your average U.S. Open course.

There’s baked-out turf instead of lush green fairways and wire grass instead of rough. Native areas punish errant shots and turtleback greens repel any poor approach shots. Don’t be surprised to see putts roll off greens, either. At Donald Ross’ masterpiece, winning requires you to be dialed in with every element of your game.

The U.S. Open has been played here three times before, and each time the winner delivered a herculean performance. Payne Stewart tamed the course in 1999 for his second U.S. Open title, while Michael Campbell claimed his lone major victory in 2005. Nine years later, Martin Kaymer lapped the field during an epic performance that culminated in his second major victory.

The men aren’t the only ones who’ve been challenged by the quirks of No. 2. The week following Kaymer’s victory in 2014, the USGA hosted the ladies at Pinehurst for the U.S. Women’s Open for the very first time. And by week’s end, Michelle Wie West was hoisting the trophy after capturing her first and only major title.

Key to winning at Pinehurst

In the three previous times hosting the men, just four players have finished the week under par at Pinehurst. In Wie West’s win 10 years ago, that theme held true as she was the only player to finish the week under par.

the third hole at pinehurst no. 2
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Much of that difficulty can be attributed to the difficulty of Ross turtleback greens. The surfaces repel any shots not hit to the correct spots, and saving par from the wrong side of the greens is a treacherous task.

“Be on the right sides of the greens,” Wie West said on the key to winning at No. 2. “Sometimes missing the greens is easier than being on the wrong side of the green.”

Since Wie West’s victory, there have been some minor changes to the course, including adding more wire grass and fescue in the native areas. And according to the 2014 champ, avoiding these spots will be key.

“I went back a few months ago and I was surprised at how grown in everything was,” Wie West said. “I feel like accuracy this year is going to be extremely important.”

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.