As you emerge from your pandemic hiberation raring to hit the links, we happily bring to your attention the latest news from the Pinehurst Resort, the home of American golf.
North Alabama native Jason Isbell sang about the “Alabama Pines” on his 2011 album “Here We Rest.” Well, had Isbell and his 400 Unit band visited Pinehurstthey may have been equally inspired by the North Carolina Sandhills.
This golf-rich region – blessed by Mid Pines, Pine Needles, Tobacco Road, Talamore and more – is anchored by the storied Pinehurst Resort founded in 1895 by James Walker Tufts. The Pinehurst Resort’s No. 2 course has hosted three U.S. Opens in the span of 15 years: 1999, 2005 and 2014.
And five more courses are on the way via an agreement last fall with the USGA designating Pinehurst as an “anchor site” and establishing a second USGA home in the Village of Pinehurst, complete with a golf museum. The USGA also is relocating its conforming equipment testing and research operation from New Jersey to Pinehurst.
But there’s way more to Pinehurst than Donald Ross’s storied No. 2: Pinehurst is currently home to nine 18-hole golf courses.
Here’s a comprehensive update going into the 2021 golf season of what’s new and improved at the American Home of Golf.
The short version: The Cradle short course, three hotels and a vibrant restaurant and pub scene all explain why the Pinehurst Resort sets up perfectly for a multi-day golf buddies trip for the ages this spring.
The Continued Pinehurst Resort Golf Revival
Led by owner Robert Dedman Jr. and President Tom Pashley, the Pinehurst Resort has boldly reinvented itself over the past decade while staying steadfastly committed to its traditions.
The metamorphosis began with the restoration of No. 2 course by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2011, which culminated with the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens being held there within weeks of one another in 2014.
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 2016 Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, was tapped to design a nine-hole short course.
The result is The Cradle, which sits on on the land between the clubhouse and South Beulah Hills Road. 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 often-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 golf-ball-repelling Ross domed greens. They’re quick to recommend that 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.
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.
Gil Hanse’s Restoration of Pinehurst No. 4
Previously 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.
Pinehurst Brewing Company, Serving BBQ and Craft Beers
The Pinehurst Brewing Company opened its doors in the fall of 2018 in the former steam plant that once supplied power to the area, The PBC, as it’s known, complements the nearby Drum & Quill, a quirky Village of Pinehurst restaurant and locals’ watering hole operated by Kevin Drum, son of Arnold Palmer biographer journalist Bob Drum.
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 barbecue, 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 nourished.
Lodging Options at Pinehurst Resort
The 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 a 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.
Pinehurst Resort Golf Packages
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. Additional nights and rounds can easily be added. The resort’s vacation planners are a great resource for selecting the courses and lodging that best suits your group. Call (855) 235-8507 or click here to begin your reservation.
By Alabama Golf News staff
Featured image: No. 13 on the No. 2 Course (Photo: Pinehurst Resort)