- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) - Some of the names at the U.S. Open sound a little different.

Kiss Me Quick.

Fleabane.

Toad flax.

They are among thousands of plants thriving at Pinehurst No. 2 after a 2011 restoration project to the course’s natural look from more than a half-century ago. Yet those areas of natural growth also have plenty of what most people would call weeds in an unkempt yard.

This is not the typical pristine look of a course hosting a major championship. Pinehurst looks a lot rougher than the last time the U.S. Open came here in 2005.

“It is what they want to call undergrowth,” said Curtis Strange, a two-time U.S. Open champion and ESPN analyst. “I call it weeds. It is everything that you have seen in the worst- kept lawn you’ve ever seen in your life.

“It is dandelions growing up 12 to 15 inches, it’s low growing weeds, and in some cases it’s actually difficult to find the golf ball.”

Well, that depends on where it lands.

The natural areas have replaced the thick green swaths of high grass typically surrounding the fairways and greens. In some spots, the rough is little more than sandy patches scattered between pine needles or leaves with a few ankle-deep weeds on level terrain.

In others, the ball will vanish in lurking grassy clumps or among plants growing hip-high.

“This golf course at Pinehurst, you have more chances for rub of the green, good and bad then maybe any other Open,” Joe Ogilvie said Wednesday on the driving range. “The element of chance is at the forefront here, and I think guys will embrace it.”

The revamped rough is the most noticeable piece of Pinehurst’s renovation, restoring some of the past natural look while making the course easier to maintain going forward.

“It’s different,” Billy Hurley III said coming off the putting green. “Never played a gold course like it. It’s cool.”

Danesha Seth Carley, an assistant professor of crop science at North Carolina State University, assisted on the restoration. That work began in February 2010 with an ecological survey that studies what types of plants were growing here, figuring out which were ones that the course wanted to keep, which they wanted to remove and which they wanted to relocate.

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