Doak's newest at Pinehurst to debut in April
PINEHURST, N.C. – Bob Farren climbs into the all-terrain vehicle and cranks it up, noting that it will be a somewhat more comfortable ride around Pinehurst No. 10 than in a regular golf cart.
For Farren, the director of golf course maintenance at Pinehurst Resort, it’s a ride he has taken countless times around the new course that is scheduled to open in April 2024. He’s watched No. 10 take shape since the project was announced, and as its opening nears it seems as everybody wants to get the tour of the latest Tom Doak offering.
With Doak protégé Angela Moser overseeing the construction, Farren, who has been at Pinehurst since the 1980s, said he has enjoyed seeing No. 10 blossom into what is sure to be another gem in the resort’s portfolio.
“It’s been exciting to see it take shape,” Farren said during a stop at one of No. 10’s holes. “There were different times when I would be down here every day but now it’s to the point where I might be a week without coming down here and it’s really exciting to see the difference.”
Although it’s just a short drive from his office, Farren said his visits to No. 10 are different from when the iconic No. 2 and No. 4 were undergoing renovations. Those courses are just across the street from his office and easily accessible to the affable Farren.
“When I do come down here, I’ll spend a couple hours instead of just riding
through it in a golf cart,” he said.
Farren is the go-to expert when it comes to all-things Pinehurst Resort golf. He was there when No. 7 was built and also from the initial walk-through to the completed project of No. 8.
The process never fails to disappoint Farren.
“It was exciting here when you see the timber work and start seeing the corridors and the view lines take shape,” he said. “To be walking in the woods one month and you come back a month later and you have this.”
This, he said looking from one the vantage points where you can see multiple holes, appears to be a course cut from the same vein as the iconic No. 2, which will host another U.S. Open next June. Built on the same property that once was home to The Pit, a Dan Maples design that thrived until Mike Strantz built the acclaimed Tobacco Road, No. 10 lies on terrain that once was mined for its sand. With the demise of the Pit course, Pinehurst purchased 900 acres of land that will become No. 10 and eventually No. 11.
When it opens next April, the project will have been completed in just 17 months. When initially approached about building No. 10, Doak said he couldn’t do it before 2025 or 2026 due to his current workload. But Pinehurst Resort officials had a target date of 2024 and Doak acquiesced with one caveat – it had to be finished by September.
Even with a tight window, Farren thought it could be done. Everything fell into place and the weather cooperated so that the course was pretty much completed by the target date.
“Everyone was motivated to do it and we had the resources to do it and the commitment,” he said. “To be able to sod it was huge.”
Sod was laid as shaping was completed to preserve contours and prevent soil erosion, Farren said.
Pinehurst No. 10 was completed in just 17 months
How good is No. 10? Although Farren said there have been no conversations concerning possibly hosting major events, he said “there could be significant events down here, but most of them would be in a supporting role. It would be good enough.”
Rolling fairways lined by Carolina pines, rustic bunkering and tilted, sloping greens give No. 10 a definite resemblance to No. 2 or No. 4. But it also has its own distinctions, including No. 8 which Farren calls “the Reveal.”
A short par 4, the eighth hole is both a nod to the former Pit course with a touch of Mike Strantz thrown in for good measure. The hole is framed by tall mounds of sand and trees – the spoils of the former mining operation. The blind tee shot on No. 8 must be played over or around a 25 or 30-foot dune that puts a measure of doubt into the player’s mind. It’s classic Strantz – visually intimidating but not necessarily difficult.
“You have to hit it to the right or over it the top of the mound – it’s not that hard of a shot,” Farren said. “It’s not even intimidating, it’s just distracting. It’s very much like Mike Strantz.
Farren said the best line off the tee is straight over the dune. “It doesn’t look like there is much room to the right, so most people are going to bail to the left,” he said. “
Moser said on Pinehurst’s X (Twitter feed) that there “is a lot going on on 8,” comparing it to The Matterhorn at Royal County Down.
“It’s a very unique piece of ground,” Moser said. “It used to be a sand mining area and now it is a little different to the other holes, but why would you kill all the character that is part of this site? It makes it so unique. Sometimes you are just afraid of this one hole that stands out; it’s so different to the other holes. But I think we found a pretty good balance.
Holes Nos. 9 through 15 ‘Seriously hard golf’
Doak said the 8th hole of No. 10 is like going down into a quarry with a wide fairway and big hills on both sides. The green is “kind of a punchbowl half hidden by a dune in the front.”
“It’s wide enough so that you should be able to get it in play, and it could be a really wild second shot,” Doak said. “But if you hit a really good drive, it’s a very gettable hole.”
No. 8 is just one of the holes that likely will create a post-round buzz. The 10th hole can play 640 yards through a maze of mogul-type mounding. The ninth hole and 15th hole will share a tee placement.
Doak said the stretch from No. 9 through Nos. 14 or 15 “is a seriously hard golf course.”
Farren said Moser has done a masterful job overseeing her first solo project.
“She likes to play golf and is a good player,” Farren said. “That’s a huge benefit. She has worked for Tom Doak and others for a long time. Once she had a fair level of confidence on what they wanted this property to be, she had a good ownership of it and for Tom.”
With the USGA set to open its new headquarters in Pinehurst next summer and the christening of No. 10 in the spring, Pinehurst Resort and the surrounding area certainly live up to their motto as the “Cradle of American Golf.”
Featured image of the fairway of the 10th hole of Pinehurst No. 10 looking back towards the tee by Dan Vukelich