Sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of The Carolina Hotel surrounded by long leaf pines and magnolia trees, one has no choice but to take in the warm breeze and gentle sounds of the nearby village of Pinehurst and wonder…can it get any better?
The purple hew of the evening sky eases tired eyes like the refreshing peach infused iced-tea sifting over your taste buds. After 36-holes of inspired golf, the maddening thoughts of bogeys and doubles fade to excitement for what lies ahead.
Few places conjure up images of luxury and elegance at the simple mention of their name, but Pinehurst Resort in the Sandhills region of North Carolina is such a place.
Adding to the resort experience are the quaint and charming nearby towns of Southern Pines and Aberdeen, which provide plenty of apres-golf activities. On any given day you can visit the largest golf memorabilia shop you might ever see, go antiquing in town, play golf on some of the best courses on the planet or just relax in The Spa.
The lure of this southern peach is capable of stealing your heart in an instant and, like so many others, you may never want to leave.
It was our second-to-last night in town and we were facing a 12 hour drive back home. An 8 a.m. tee time on Pinhurst’s No. 2 course beckoned and all we had left to do was get through one more night.
No mention of golf in North America should go without discussion of Pinehurst. A golfing mecca with decades of unparalleled history, it’s home to no fewer than nine courses with their own distinct personalities (fittingly, numbered one through nine).
But none of the courses are more widely regarded than No. 2. Its championship pedigree includes prestigious events like the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Amateur Championship and even a Ryder Cup — No. 2’s history places it among the worlds elite. In 2014, Pinehurst No. 2 hosted both the men’s and ladies U.S. Open’s in consecutive weeks marking the first time in history a golf course has claimed that honour.
With a reputation that is second to none, No. 2 is a constantly evolving golf course. In recent years it has gone through a significant restoration project unearthing much of what No. 2 was originally intended to be. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are deserving of high praise for stripping the rough and re-instituting the natural sand floors prevalent in its early days, but its true mastermind will always be the legendary Donald Ross.
Spending nearly half a century tweaking and upgrading the golf course, it’s easy to understand why Donald Ross said Pinehurst No. 2 is “the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.” He was so fond of his creation that he spent much of his life living alongside the 3rd hole.
A common trait attributed to Donald Ross designs are his penchant for defending par around the greens and No. 2 is a prime example. While fairways are wide and ample, the closer one comes to the putting surfaces the more apparent it becomes that choosing the correct line off the tee is imperative for a realistic shot at the green.
Known for its crowned greens and short grass surrounds, No. 2 is a course playable by all yet challenging enough to test the best in the game. Simple strategic options are presented throughout the round with greens so complex and diabolical they’ll leave you shivering in your knickers.
Another Donald Ross characteristic found at No. 2 is his flair for gently draping golf courses on the land. Nothing is abrasive and nothing is out of context here. The course sits in near-perfect harmony with its surroundings and provides a cohesive sense of place along with a true sense of intimacy.
No. 2 is a testament to how great green complexes, simple playing strategies and high shot values come together to create one of the best courses in the world. Many are of the opinion that No. 2 is devoid of even a single weak hole, and on our visit, we discovered this statement to be absolutely true. From the opening hole, one of the finest in the world, to the stern, uphill par-4 finisher, a golfer will be hard-pressed to find any faults in its design.
The aura of greatness which envelopes this hallowed ground is palpable. Every great golfer of the last century has at some point in time taken the very same steps all those who play across No. 2’s fairways do to this very day as the statue of Payne Stewart reminds everyone as they walk off the final green.
Pinehurst is a place every golf enthusiast should visit at least once in their life. Walking among the fresh scent of pine and the contrasting sand floors, they will undoubtedly come away from their rounds thinking the setting was tailor-made for golf. Apart from that, Pinehurst is a living golf museum. Donald Ross has shaped our golfing landscape to such a high degree, and each course at Pinehurst, even those not credited to Ross, lend a greater understanding of his philosophy and impact on the game.
So as we struck our final putts of the day, it should come as no surprise that we felt compelled to clench our fists and strike the air just as Payne Stewart did in 1999. That is inevitably how it goes at Pinehurst — come for the golf, leave with the fist pumping memories.
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