Spring is golf’s annual coming out party in the Carolinas. But the fall is the storied game’s second season in both the Old North and Palmetto States. High temps drop into the 60s and 70s, leaves begin to turn, and abundant sunshine paints Carolinas blue skies atop October and November days.
In short, it’s the ideal time for Bay Area golfers to visit, or revisit, Pinehurst Resort.
For most golfers, the “Cradle of American Golf,” as it’s known, needs no introduction. The timeless Sandhills golf destination founded in 1895 by James Walker Tufts hosted three U.S. Opens on its famed No. 2 course in the span of 15 years: 1999, 2005 and 2014.
And five more are on the way via a new agreement with the USGA designating the resort an “anchor site” and establishing a second home in the Village of Pinehurst.
But there’s more to Pinehurst than Donald Ross’s storied No. 2. Home of nine, 18-hole golf courses, The Cradle short course, three hotels and several restaurants and pubs, the resort sets up perfectly for a multi-day golf buddies trip for the ages.
A Golf Renaissance Begins
Led by owner Robert Dedman Jr. and President Tom Pashley, Pinehurst Resort has boldly reinvented itself over the past decade while staying steadfastly committed to its traditions.
The metamorphosis began with the restoration of Donald Ross’s No. 2 course by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2011 culminating with the 2014 men’s and women’s U.S. Opens.
That historic hosting was soon followed by the acquisition of nearby National Golf Club and its Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, which was rebranded as Pinehurst No. 9.
It was the period between the summer of 2017 and fall of 2018, however, that forever changed the resort’s dynamic. Gil Hanse, architect of the Olympic Golf Course in Rio di Janeiro, was tapped to design a nine-hole short course, The aforementioned Cradle, on the land between the clubhouse and Beulah Hills Rd.
The Cradle exudes fun: music fills the air from hidden speakers, the retro-wooden trailer “Pinecone” serves up cold beverages, and golfers often walk the 789-yard course in “group-somes” of six or more.
Nearby Thistle Dhu, the 18-hole putting course that opened in 2012, was expanded from 15,000 to 75,000-square-feet. Tee markers double as drink holders and side bets abound as golfers negotiate the topsy-turvy terrain. Together, The Cradle and Thistle Dhu form Pinehurst’s fountain of youth.
An oft-overlooked enhancement during this span was the subtle restoration of the No. 3 course. Several holes on the short-but-sporty layout were refurbished to their original Ross design aesthetic (and two brand new par 3s were added).
Locals call it a “mini No. 2” because of its repellant Ross greens and are quick to recommend golfers play it before testing their mettle on Ross’s full-scale masterpiece. Weighing in at just 5,155 yards from the back tees and a par of 68, No. 3 has humbled many a golfer with its demanding shot values.
The Arrival of the New No. 4
For most golf resorts, this would have been enough. But ownership didn’t stop there. Hanse and his team completely “reimagined” the design and routing of the No. 4 course in 2018.
Recast by Tom Fazio in 1999 as a lush, Augusta National-like experience, No. 4 had gradually lost the native Sandhills aesthetic endemic to Golden Age courses in the area.
Hanse reshaped the topography, restored elevation changes and adjusted sightlines to create a stunning test of golf.
The result was a companion course to No. 2 that quickly emerged as a player favorite and darling among golf’s cognoscenti.
Both No. 4 and No. 2 hosted the USGA’s prestigious U.S. Amateur in 2019, cementing their dynamic duo status. And in 2020, the two courses welcomed many of the nation’s best Amateur players in hosting the venerable North & South Championships.
Something Special Brewing
The Pinehurst Brewing Company opened its doors in the fall of 2018 in the former steam plant building that once supplied power to the area.
A five-minute walk from the Village, the “PBC’s” brick façade and restored smokestack cut a compelling contrast with the resort’s traditional New England-style architecture.
Inside, original pipes and valves were re-purposed as legs beneath tables and light fixtures above booths.
A massive, indoor-outdoor bar has emerged as the Village’s hottest gathering spot, and the perfect perch from which to sample the PBC’s selection of handcrafted lagers and ales.
And then there’s the barbeque, which isn’t limited to Carolina pulled pork. Succulent baby back ribs, juicy Texas-style brisket and an array of smoked sausages grace the menu and keep golfers and non-golfers alike well fed.
Pinehurst Resort’s colorful history and exciting future converge at its three AAA Four-Diamond hotels, offering 480 rooms and an assortment of amenities.
On the list of National Register of Historic Places, The Carolina Hotel is often referred to as the “Queen of the South” or the “White House of Golf.” The grandest and most recognizable hotel at the resort, The Carolina has a regal estate feel, lined with elegant pillars and sweeping verandas.
The resort’s first inn, The Holly, is as cozy as a Carolina night, featuring dark wood panels and quiet nooks. It houses the AAA Four-Diamond 1895 Grille, accessed by a set of stairs down into dimly lit main dining room that encourages patrons to relax and linger. The Holly is situated in the heart of the Village and is perfect for guests who want to meander its streets before or après a hearty supper.
The 42-room Manor Inn, originally opened in 1923, was completely remodeled in 2019. Geared toward golf groups, it features two private hospitality suites with room for 20 that can be reserved for the entire length of stay. Located on its first floor, the new North & South Bar serves a curated selection of whiskies, cocktails and craft beers from the PBC.
Packages Made Easy
For years, it’s been a golf staple at Pinehurst Resort. Simple, straightforward and easy to book, the Donald Ross Golf Package features two nights’ accommodations, three rounds of golf and breakfast and dinner, daily. The resort’s vacation planners are a great resource for selecting the courses and lodging that best suits your group. Just call (855) 235-8507 or click here to begin your reservation.
Point A to Point B
Pinehurst Resort is approximately 70 minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and requires a connection at a hub airport. Charlotte Douglas International is two hours west and offers direct flights from San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego.
For more information, or to learn about seasonal golf packages, visit www.pinehurst.com.
By Shane Sharp