February 7, 2015 / 9:39 PM / 4 years ago

USGA says Pinehurst conversion a model for 2016 Olympics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The back-to-back men’s and women’s golf events at the 2016 Olympics will be modeled on the staging of the U.S. Women’s Open straight after the men’s on the same Pinehurst course last year, a top U.S. Golf association official said on Saturday.

Martin Kaymer of Germany sinks his putt on the 18th green to win the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Pinehurst, North Carolina, June 15, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar

After a 112-year absence, golf returns to the Olympic program in Rio with an individual men’s stroke play event followed by an individual women’s tournament on the same course.

John Bodenhamer, the U.S. Golf Association head of rules and competitions, said the transition between the men’s and women’s events at Pinehurst, where Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie won, went so smoothly that the same process will be utilized.

“For the golf at the Olympics in 2016, this will be a model. We’re already starting to talk about how to administer the men and then the women playing in Rio 2016,” Bodenhamer told the annual meeting of the USGA.

“They’re using the model that we created to get information and use it in the Olympics next year.”

Bodenhamer said collected data helped them set up the course to play nearly identically for women despite shorter distance.

“We worked with the (men) players’ caddies and obtained all of the driving club information they had from the teeing grounds and then obtained the clubs they hit on approach shots and the yardages they hit them,” he said.

“And we gathered information from marshals on the putting greens about how the ball was reacting. So we not only knew what the men hit the first week from the tee, and their approach shots and the ranges that they were hitting but how the balls were performing on the greens.”

The men’s U.S. championship ended on a Sunday, and the women took over the Pinehurst course the next day.

“So when we came out on Monday after the Open to set up the course for the Women’s Open, we knew exactly what we wanted to do and were able to achieve basically the same driving clubs from the tee at a different yardage and generally the same approach shots.

“The women played the same golf course as the men, which was one of our primary goals,” he said.

“And I think that Michelle Wie is great evidence that they certainly played every bit as well as the men did.”

Editing by Mitch Phillips

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