The US Open doubleheader generated endless speculation about the relative quality of the men’s and women’s abilities to manage the challenges of Donald Ross’s Pinehurst No. 2. Would the women have enough strength to power out of the North Carolina Sandhills scrub and wire grass? With a lower loft and spin capacity to their approach shots, how would the women manage those tricky greens designed to befuddle and thwart even the best of the guys among the pros?
The numbers tell the tale. We can set aside all the endless, worthless, empty speculations and innuendo about the quality of the women’s game.
Playing No. 2 from yardages adjusted to the differential in off-the-tee striking distances, the stats are fairly clear: there’s just not much difference in the men’s and women’s games.
U.S. Open (men) U.S. Women’s Open
First round: 73.23 First round: 75.83
Second round: 72.89 Second round: 75.01
Third round: 73.82 Third round: 72.39
Fourth round: 72.40 Fourth round: 72.39
Cumulative: 73.08 Cumulative: 74.61
U.S. Open: 70 percent
U.S. Women’s Open: 73 percent
Greens in Regulation
U.S. Open: 57 percent
U.S. Women’s Open: 55 percent
Birdies and Eagles
U.S. Open: 981
U.S. Women’s Open: 956
What does all this really mean? That, with the exception of distance off the tee — a matter that’s directly linked to upper body strength differentials — there’s just not much difference in the way women and men manage their way around one of the most challenging golf courses in the world, something women’s golfers have known for a long, long time.
The USGA took a big step forward when it scheduled the 2014 double header on No. 2. Now that the experiment’s been successful, will the organization move forward to make the double-header routine rather than a one-time punt to cover a scheduling crisis? Perhaps they could alternate who goes first, the boys or the girls?