Boston businessman James Walter Tufts sold his soda business in 1895 and purchased 6000 acres of land in the North Carolina Sandhills with the express purpose of building a health resort, and opened the Holly Inn that year. Tufts employed Frederick Law Olmstead ( of Central Park fame ) to design the village and central green for what became the village of Pinehurst. Although the first golf course was laid out in 1897 by a Dr Leroy Culver, it wasn't until Donald Ross was appointed in 1900 that golf really came into it's own at Pinehurst. Scottish born Ross designed over 400 courses in his time, many of which have stood the test of time. He is rightly regarded as one of the finest golf architects the world has seen. Pinehurst no 2 opened in 1907 and Ross declared it was 'the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed". Pinehurst no 2 is regarded as his masterpiece.
Indeed Pinehurst no 2 has now hosted major championships such as the U.S. PGA, the Ryder Cup, The Tour Championship, and a number of U.S. Opens- perhaps the most famous of these was the 1999 Open won dramatically by Payne Stewart. In fact no 2 has hosted more championship events than any other course in the USA.
But Pinehurst Resort wasn't always all about the golf, although that is what it is universally known for now. Originally Tufts designed it as a health resort, and riding, hunting, cycling and archery were key activities. In 1916 exhibition shooter Annie Oakley came to Pinehurst Gun Club teaching 125000 people how to shoot in a 5 year period!
But these days it is all about the golf. Pinehurst now has 9 championship courses under its care, and the general sandhills area around Pinehurst has many more.
Pinehurst no 2 is the flagship for Pinehurst, and the most famous of its courses.
It was designed by Donald Ross, but undertook a major facelift in 2011 when Coore & Crenshaw undertook a year long renovation to revert the course back to the original Donald Ross design concept.
The course now looks and feels like Ross had imagined it.
And it is a terrific test of golf, with the main defence being the beautifully groomed crowned greens.
A shot just feet from your target can trickle off the green in positions that test even the best of short games.
I had the pleasure of playing no. 2 on the same day as the North South amateur event reached its final stages, and the course was set up with final day US Open pins and had greens running at 12-13 on the stimp.
You may realise that the greens are crowned, but I can tell you that there are humps, bumps and ridges running through these greens as well, and those final day pins positions are diabolical!
As a general rule finding the fairway at no 2 is not too challenging- the real challenge begins in caressing the approach shots into central positions on the green and keeping it there, while giving you a good look at the flag.
There are some challenging putts for sure, but the greens are pure and when you get the pace they are playable.
But you have to be very good to hit approach shots accurately enough to keep hitting and staying on greens, and very, very good to recover when you inevitably miss a green.
And those US Open pins add another dimension in difficulty...
The back left pin on hole 5 was so difficult it had us shaking our heads in disbelief.
There just appeared no way for mere mortals to get near the flag and stay on the green...
Notable holes include:
- the short par 4 third hole with bunkers challenging the tee shot and a severe green demanding an accurate approach.
- the long challenging par 4 fourth hole down and up through a valley
- the par 5 fifth hole with dramatic green complex
- the par 3 ninth hole, which is picturesque but demands an accurate short/mid iron to a lovely natural green.
- the par 5 sixteenth hole, with hazards at every turn
- the par 3 seventeenth is a longer one shotter and requires the approach to carry a deep front bunker that covers the front right of the green. If the flag is on the right side of the green behind that bunker it will require a brave shot in, or a trying putt if you take the safe approach to the left of the green.
- the par 4 closing hole is well known, and a thrill to play. It requires two well executed shots and your job is done..
It's a great way to finish.
All golfers will want to play Pinehurst no 2.
It is a real test of golfing skill.
The good news is that you will very probably not lose a ball!.
On the other hand it is also very likely that you will not score very well at all if it is your first time around.
I came away with two thoughts:
1. After playing the course 3 times over the years, I would like to play the course again fresh with a little more experience and course knowledge on my side,
2. I am in awe of the skill level of the professionals who play this course off the back tees, and manage to put together a score day after day.
These guys are good!
Golf Tours- Pinehurst
The Travelling Golfer can tailor a package to suit your group, including time at Pinehurst Resort and some of the other outstanding courses in the area.
For further information and itinerary suggestions see- Golf Tours: Pinehurst & The Sandhills of North Carolina
Please contact us if you are interested in a golf tour to Pinehurst Resort and/or The Sandhills of North Carolina: