- 80 Carolina Vista Drive, Pinehurst, North Carolina, 28374, United States
- 1 855 235 8507
Pinehurst is known as “the Cradle of American golf,” which might seem a lofty tag until you get to know the history of this golf resort. Golf was in its infancy in the United States when entrepreneur and inventor James Walker Tufts had the idea to create a resort and village with multiple courses after purchasing 600 acres (243 hectares) of land in the sand hills of south-central North Carolina in 1895. The village became known as Pinehurst and the first course was completed in 1898. Tufts commissioned Scottish professional golfer Donald Ross to redesign No. 1 and add three new courses in 1900. Although Ross was not a proven architect, the meticulous Scot set to work creating courses that used the natural sandy ground to its full potential, weaving fairways between tall pines, building natural-looking bunkers and creating crowned greens with challenging breaks and slopes. Ross was a minimalist, using the features of the natural terrain and doing as little earth moving as possible to shape his courses.
There are now nine golf courses at Pinehurst, aptly named No.1 through to No.9. However, Ross’ greatest achievement was Pinehurst No.2, which opened in 1907 and still rates as one of the best courses in the United States. Golf Digest ranked it 63 in its list of the World’s 100 Greatest Course – 2016-17 and 30 in its list of America’s 100 Greatest Courses – 2017-18. It best displays Ross’ philosophy of giving golfers strategic choices.
The greens are fast, undulating and firm, with the highest point being in their center and the slope falling away to the edges. Depending on the pin position, it can be difficult to either attack the flag or recover from a missed approach shot. The native sand, wiregrass and pine needles sit between fairways as the natural rough. Hole 16 is the only one where water comes into play. Renovation work was done on the course by R.T. Jones in 1974 and then by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2010 to restore it to Ross’ original natural character, eliminating rough that was introduced earlier, increasing the length to 7565 yards (6917 meters) and adding bentgrass to the greens.
Crenshaw loved Ross’ design philosophy. “He always thought Pinehurst No.2 was for the expert player but still playable for the resort guest.”*
“Pinehurst absolutely was the pioneer in American golf,” Ross once said. “While golf had been played in a few places before Pinehurst was established, it was right here in these sand hills that the first great national movement in golf was started.”*
Pinehurst has hosted more golf championships than any other site in the United States, with No.2 being the battleground for the US Open in 1999, 2005 and 2014, the PGA Championship in 1936, Ryder Cup Matches in 1951, the US Women’s Open Championship in 2014 (Michelle Wie won just after German Martin Kaymer took the US Open) and the US Men’s Amateur Championship in 1962 and 2008. It has seen many of the greatest golfers over that 120-year period compete there, from Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones through to Tiger Woods and Rory McIIroy. It was the site of Ben Hogan’s first championship win in 1940, after he edged out Sam Snead in the North & South Open, as well as being the stage for the famous duel between Phil Mickelson and Payne Stewart, which saw the latter make two incredible putts coming home to claim the 1999 US Open title. Robert Dedman, Jr, the CEO and owner of Pinehurst Resort, put it in perspective during a short documentary about No. 2.
“You get nervous when you are on that first tee, because you realize every great golfer of the last 100 years has played this championship course.”* Right, no pressure.
The US Open will return to Pinehurst No.2 in 2024.
The challenges: On Pinehurst No. 2 you’ll need to keep it on the fairway or you’ll most probably be hitting out of sandy rough or wiregrass, both of which can provide tough lies. There are 111 natural-looking bunkers to avoid, especially around the crowned greens, which are fast, undulating and tricky. No. 2 is long from the back tees, too. Pro’s tip: Take a caddie to help navigate Donald Ross’ greens. “These greens have been confounding the world’s greatest players from all of the great eras of golf, and having some assistance in reading Ross’s intricate and subtle maneuvers will help considerably in the player’s score.”
When to play: Although Pinehurst is open year-round, the average temperature is chilly between December and February.
Yardage: US Open: 7588 yards, 6938 meters. Blue: 6961 yards, 6365 yards
Best hole: A balanced course throughout, but the par-5 hole 5 is a beauty. Playing 576-yards (526-meters) from the back tee, the fairway turns to the left just before a green that has four bunkers on the edge of the fairway in front of it. The par-5 hole 16 (528 yards / 483 meters) is another tough battle – you hit over a water hazard as the fairway doglegs left. There are multiple bunkers to avoid. And hole 11, a 483-yard (441-yard) par 4, has been a critical birdie opportunity taken by tournament champions Payne Stewart, Michael Campbell, Michelle Wie and Ben Hogan, the latter having shot 3 four days in a row on his way to win the 1940 North & South Open.
The pro says:
“I’ve always thought that No.2, from a design standpoint, has always been my favorite course in the country. Pinehurst is a totally tree-lined golf course, without a tree being strategically in play. Pinehurst just has so much in it, so much variety, it has so much character, it is just so much fun to play.”*
“Donald Ross believed in providing golfers with strategic choices, and Pinehurst No. 2 was intended to epitomize that philosophy. In March 2011, No. 2 reopened following a year-long restoration project designed to restore the course’s natural and historic character, and the strategic options that were the centerpiece of Ross’s vision.”
Ben Bridgers, Director of Golf, Pinehurst Resort & Country Club
The resort experience:
Pinehurst resort is spread out across the small North Carolina village. The earliest marketing plan for the resort was as a health retreat that was enhanced by the Pine-scented air. That quickly changed when golf became more popular at the turn of the 20th Century, and the resort grew. There are now four hotels on offer: The Holly Inn, a Four-Diamond hotel that was built in 1895 and Pinehurst’s original lodge that has afternoon tea at 4pm; The Carolina, a grand luxury hotel with 230 rooms nicknamed “the Queen of the South”; The Manor Inn with the feel of a sportsman’s lounge; and The Condos at Pinehurst, with two- or three-bedroom apartments that include a kitchen, private bathroom and living area for families or groups. The hotel buildings of The Holly Inn and The Carolina retain a classic southern style in their design.
The Spa at Pinehurst, housed in a beautiful white building, continues this classic look. There are 28 treatment rooms, steam room, sauna, and whirlpool spread across 31,000 square feet (2880 square meters) here. Head to the spa for a four-hour treatment (with massage, pedicure, facial, manicure and lunch), or something from the “Gentlemen’s Menu” such as the sports massage. You can also opt to pay for a pass to use the lap pool and whirlpools. The fitness center is complimentary.
The accommodations, restaurants, golf courses, and activities are within easy walking distance or you can take the complimentary resort shuttle service.
Pinehurst is approximately two hours’ drive east from Charlotte, or one and a quarter hour’s drive southwest from Raleigh. Pinehurst received the Golf Digest’s Editor’s Choice Award in its list of Best Golf Resorts in the Americas in 2016 and Golf Magazine’s Platinum Medal Resort – 2014-15.
Dine and wine:
Being a resort village you can expect some variety here, and the nine restaurants should keep you satisfied. At the Carolina, the Dining Room has a buffet breakfast, and steak for lunch or dinner; The Ryder Cup Lounge features memorabilia from the 1951 matches played there, a fireside lounge and eight beers on tap (it’s one of Gold Digest’s 50 Best 19th Holes); and the Carolina Coffee shop is good for a sandwich or fresh brew.
The Holly Inn features the AAA-Four-Diamond 1895 Grille with seafood and Carolina-inspired cuisine, and The Tavern, which has an antique Scottish bar and a hearty pub menu. You’ll also find the Donald Ross Grill, a favorite lunch spot for golfers, at the Resort Clubhouse. The 91st Hole here also has burgers.
Elsewhere, Course No. 7 has the Fairwoods Dining Room for Cobb salad, and Course No. 8 has Centennial Dining Room with a deli-style menu.
All up there are 480 guest rooms across the three hotels as well as condominiums and villas.
The Carolina, which opened in 1901, is an elegant luxury hotel with grand architecture that sits on the National Register of Historic Places. The rocking chairs on the veranda look like a great place to relax with a whisky in hand. The Carolina has 230 guest rooms including a 1600-square-foot (148-square-meter) Presidential Suite with the modern touch of a 60in multimedia screen.
The Holly Inn is another place I’d love to stay at. Although the wooden lodging was built in 1895, the 82 guest rooms have all the modern perks whilst retaining the elegant interiors and details. A Traditional Room has a king-size bed with feather top, Wi-Fi and an LCD TV.
You’ll find more casual lodging at The Manor, which opened in 1923, with its 42 guest rooms. Those in large groups can opt for one of Pinehurst’s four- three- or two-bedroom villas, each with a full kitchen.
Apart from the nine golf courses to play here, if you have the energy you might try the highly-regarded tennis facility. It has 24 courts (six hard surface and 18 soft Har-Tru). Pinehurst also has two croquet courts, which have hosted the US Croquet Championship. The West Lawn Activity Centre has a hot tub, two pools, an outdoor fireplace and putting green.
Even better, head to Lake Pinehurst and Beach Club for action on the 200-acre lake. Enjoy kayaking, fishing, swimming, sailing and canoeing. There’s also a picnic area, beach volleyball, barbeque grills, and lifeguards watching over swimmers.
* Source Pinehurst.com