Dormie Club is located in the Sandhills of North Carolina, near Pinehurst.
The course opened in 2010 and was designed by Coore + Crenshaw, who are generally regarded along with Tom Doak as the best in the business. Other notable Coore + Crenshaw courses include Sand Hills in Nebraska, Friars Head on Long Island, and an impressive reworking of Pinehurst no 2.
Coore + Crenshaw courses are known for their minimalist designs and Dormie Club is no exception. The course looks like it has been carved out of the sandy, wooded, hilly terrain and because there is little in the form of a formal rough- the fairways are surrounded by sandy scrub then framed by trees- it has a real rustic feel.
In general fairways are wide, and the emphasis is on the second shot. It has the feel of Alister McKenzie at Royal Melbourne sometimes in the way that the wide fairways give the player the chance to find the right part of the fairway to get a better angle in, but provide a more difficult approach for finding the fairway in the wrong spot!!!
When I played in 2016 the infrastructure was still a little rough- cart paths were rough dirt paths. Perhaps things were tight financially? I had heard that there was talk of a second course...
Overall I though the course was outstanding. The first four holes were superb, and really grabbed our attention with strong holes boldly bunkered which fitted very naturally into the setting.
The collection of par 3's at Dormie Club are exceptional with each of holes 7, 9, 12, & 16 real gems, but quite different from each other.
Hole 7 requires a carry over swampy ground with a longer iron or rescue to a green which slopes left to right and is heavily bunkered front & right
Hole 9 also requires a swamp carry with a short accurate iron shot to a green with a sharp drop off at the front. You need to be up!
Hole 12 is the prettiest of the par 3's, and the shortest- requiring only a wedge or 9 iron at most to negotiate the sandy waste and bunkers which cover the entire journey to the smallish green. Accuracy is the key..
Hole 16 is a downhill par 3 requiring a middle iron to a large squarish shaped green surrounded by bunkers. It reminds me strongly of McDonald/Raynor and would not have been out of place at Chicago golf Club.
Hole 14 is a top hole as well. A very short par 4 with a severe left to right sloping fairway, the green is defended by 3 factors:
- a solitary greenside bunker front right
- a large tree on the left side of the fairway, and
- the slope of the fairway
Inevitably a decent drive will find most people hitting a short elevated shot over the bunker to hit the green.
Then there is the amazing par 5 seventeenth hole which requires a long and accurate drive to thread between the waiting bunkers each side of the fairway as it turns to the left and climbs. The green sits on top of the hill requiring a long strong strike to get home in two. It will be too much for most as the last 80 metres before the green are a spectacular quarry and that quarry face is a daunting prospect to carry....better to lay up and try to hit the green in 3, I would suggest.
Overall I rate Dormie Club highly. There is nice variation in the holes, with a good mix of short and long par 4's, and some great par 3's. However while there are no bad holes I thought the start of the back nine was a little quieter than the rest of the course, with little bunkering...
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