Did The USGA Get It Right At The 2024 US Open?

Pinehurst No.2 was on the edge, but it made for an excellent US Open that produced a thrilling leaderboard and final day

Bryson DeChambeau plays a bunker shot at the 2024 US Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The USGA has come under fire many, many times in the past for its US Open course setups - so what was the consensus for the 2024 championship?

Pinehurst No.2 was the venue for the fourth time after 1999, 2005 and 2014, where it hosted the men's and women's US Opens in back-to-back weeks, won by Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie.

Much was made of Pinehurst's restoration from Coore and Crenshaw, with its sandy, waste areas and punishing green contours and run-offs. I think most people were hoping for a high-scoring US Open and that's exactly what we got.

The US Open is supposed to be the most demanding of the four men's Majors and that is just what Pinehurst delivered, with fairways and greens being the mantra of the week to really test the world's best.

This was in stark contrast to Valhalla a month ago, where the course setup was more of a traditional PGA Tour event that saw two 62s and Xander Schauffele set a new record score-to-par of 21-under. Average appoach shots were finding the greens and bad ones were punished, most of the time at least, by finding perfect bunkers with splash shots out that the pros are faced with week-in, week-out.

It yielded a great champion in Xander Schauffele and an entertaining leaderboard, but Pinehurst showed us this week just how much better a Major is when the course is an exacting, elite test.

Disaster was round the corner everywhere you looked, like on the short par 4 13th on Saturday where Ludvig Aberg and Tony Finau made triple bogeys. The par 5 5th came under scrutiny in the final round when Rory McIlroy's seemingly brilliant second shot rolled off the green and found a tough spot that ultimately led to bogey.

Had he hit that shot into a par 5 at Valhalla last month, or at any regular PGA Tour event, he likely would have had a simple two-putt or easy up-and-down.

However, McIlroy knew that there was a huge false front and that the only place he couldn't miss was short, left. He came up short and paid the price, when perhaps he should have taken an extra club to ensure it got over the ridge (back, right was the safe miss) or maybe it was just a bad strike.

Of course, it was unlucky. He was maybe a yard or two away from a fairly routine two-putt birdie that ultimately might have won him his fifth Major. These are the fine lines of a US Open.

"I love the test that Pinehurst is presenting, and you've got to focus and concentrate on every single shot out there. It's what a US Open should be like," Rory McIlroy said on Saturday evening.

Pinehurst delivered a supreme test of golf that made the US Open an enthralling watch. The burnt out fairways, waste areas and green complexes made it resemble links golf and showed us who really was playing the best golf this week, not who was putting the best.

Bryson DeChambeau plays a bunker shot

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bryson DeChambeau ranked 10th in putting for example, while second-placed Rory McIlroy was T16th. In fact, neither DeChambeau or McIlroy ranked 1st in any Strokes Gained category - which is telling. They did everything well and, most importantly for a US Open, they managed their games the best, hung in there when the going got tough and managed to grind out the pars thanks to skill, concentration and mental strength.

There were no complaints from the players. Greens didn't need to be over-watered to correct any errors. There were no real controversies that stemmed from the course and its setup - perhaps barring McIlroy on the 5th in round four. It has to go down as a huge success and the leaderboard, thrilling final day and memories that the week created show that Pinehurst and the USGA did an exceptional job.

The USGA are often criticized, and at times rightly so, but this time we have to tip our cap to them and the Pinehurst greens staff and say: "Well done."

Pinehurst is next hosting in 2029 and, as a new USGA anchor site, will have a US Open every six years. I can't wait until the next one already.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV