The U.S. Golf Association is bringing the U.S. Women’s Open back to Pine Needles.
And some would say rightfully so.
The USGA on Tuesday announced the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open would be played at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines. The 77th championship will be June 2-5.
It will be the fourth U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles and on the Donald Ross-designed golf course. The only downside: Peggy Kirk Bell won’t be there to see it.
Bell, who died in 2016 at age 95, and her family have owned the resort since 1953. A charter member of the LPGA Tour, Bell was a strong proponent of women’s golf and one of the nation’s best and most devoted golf instructors, and the playing of the 1996, 2001 and 2007 U.S. Women’s Opens at Pine Needles were veritable testaments to her place in the game of golf.
In the final round of the 2001 Open, won by Karrie Webb, the USGA announced it would be returning in 2007.
“It’s a great honor for this area, for the golf fans of this area and an honor for the entire state,” Bell said that day. “It’s something great to look forward to, something we’re already looking forward to. And naturally, we hope to do better each time we’re honored with a tournament such as this one.”
Bell was disappointed when the USGA decided to hold the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at nearby Pinehurst resort, coupling it with the U.S. Open. That was an unprecedented Open doubleheader, both held on the famed No. 2 Course, and Bell said she hoped the Women’s Open one day would be back at Pine Needles.
“I can only imagine how happy Mrs. Bell would have been to host another Women’s Open,” Pine Needles president and CEO Kelly Miller said.
The USGA will first conduct the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles.
The three previous Women’s Opens produced great champions — Annika Sorenstam in 1996, Webb in 2001 and then Christie Kerr in 2007.
“Pine Needles is, if not my favorite U.S. Women’s Open venue, it’s in the top three,” Webb told the USGA. “Pine Needles [in 1996] was my very first U.S. Open I ever played in, and then when we went back in 2001, I was so excited to be there as a defending champion.
“Obviously, it was a special week where I played fantastic golf at a tremendous golf course. I’ll always have special memories of Pine Needles.”
Opened in 1928, Pine Needles was renovated in 2004 by John Fought, who used vintage aerial photos of the course to help restore the greens and bunkers to their original forms. Kyle Franz was hired in 2016 to assist a green rebuilding and bunker restoration project.