U.S. Open in Pinehurst draws thousands to North Carolina

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Though the U.S. Open in Pinehurst doesn't tee off until Thursday, Governor Pat McCrory officially kicked off the festivities on Monday. (WTVD)

Though the U.S. Open in Pinehurst doesn't tee off until Thursday, Governor Pat McCrory officially kicked off the festivities on Monday.

It is the first time the Men and Women's Open will be played back-to-back in the same spot, which means over the next few weeks, up to 420,000 people could travel through North Carolina.

Benjamin Bridgers, Director of Golf Operations at Pinehurst, says everything is ready to host about 300 players at the new and improved Pinehurst Number Two golf course.

"You can shape the shots from your head from the tee box," Bridgers said. "Whereas in '99 and '05 it was all grass wall to wall. I definitely think it is going to be a big hit over the next two weeks."

"I think we're there, I think everything is ready," said Jay Biggs, Senior Vice President of Golf & Club Operations.

Those heading up operations at the course haven't just been boasting about what's new at Pinehurst, they also point out the history that surrounds the course. Pinehurst Number Two is one of the world's most celebrated golf courses. The course has hosted more single golf championships than any course in the United States and is the only site to have hosted all five USGA championships.

"Pinehurst Number Two, one of the greatest golf courses in the world and one of my favorites, will be making history as it becomes the first golf course to host both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open in back-to-back weeks. Not only will these two events put North Carolina on a world stage, they will have a tremendous economic impact on the region and across the state," McCrory said.

The U.S. Open tees off on Thursday the 12th, while the women start on Thursday the 19th.

In the meantime, the U.S. Golf Association has teamed up with the Village of Pinehurst for what they've dubbed The U.S. Open Experience at Tufts Park.

"This is a 365 day out of the year community that recognizes, celebrates, and loves golf," said Dave Aznavorian with the USGA, "So we knew that if we brought programming into the Village it would be something that would be welcomed and embraced."

A putting green has been set up and is ready for kids to play. There are also golf themed videos, live music performances, food, and more on the schedule.

"In addition to that, on Wednesday of the women's week we have a family night event," Village Assistant Manager Natalie Dean said. "It'll be a drive, putt and chip skills challenge for the kids."

Organizers have also made arrangements to get golf fans to the park, since there's limited access to Village streets due to heavy visitor traffic.

"In lot G, in Cannon Park which is just a short, five minutes or less shuttle ride, we have free complimentary shuttles for people who want to come for the U.S. Open Experience here in Tufts Park," Dean said. "And it'll drop them off...downtown, right across the street."

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