Springtime In Pinehurst, N.C.

Great golf blooms in the Pinehurst area

The 18th at Legacy Golf Links challenges golfers with a tough shot over water.

Ever wondered how Pinewild Country Club got its name? Not anymore.

Few golf destinations can claim to have a profusion of quality courses, but the Pinehurst area is one of them. Located in the central North Carolina sandhills, the region boasts 43 top-notch courses in a 15-mile radius, including Pine Needles, the Donald Ross gem, which has played host to three U.S. Women's Open championships, and Legacy Golf Links, host of the 2000 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.

Spring is the best time to visit the Pinehurst area, when the temperatures are perfect, the azaleas are in bloom and the sun shines longer and brighter. It goes without saying that this spring, you should consider making Pinehurst your first choice for great golf.

PLAY

1. Beacon Ridge Golf & Country Club, West End, N.C. This classic, par-72 layout measures a manageable 6,414 yards from the tips and was designed by Gene Hamm in 1988. Although short by today's standards, this classically designed track demands the full use of a variety of clubs. Even better, Beacon Ridge is a great place to introduce kids to the game. They play for free.

The Numbers: Par 72, 6,414 yards, 70.7/125 Architect: Gene Hamm Green Fees: $75-$85 More Info: beaconridgegolfcc.com, (910) 673-2950

Mid Pines and its sister course, Pine Needles, are two Donald Ross gems.

2. Legacy Golf Links, Aberdeen, N.C. Legacy Golf Links is consistently ranked as one of the region's best public golf courses, and with last year's addition of new greens, it's sure to be even better. A former host of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, Legacy is one of only three courses in the Pinehurst area to host a USGA National Championship. This Jack Nicklaus, Jr. design is a "must play" when visiting the Sandhills.

The Numbers: Par 72, 7,004 yards, 73.2/132 Architect: Jack Nicklaus, Jr. Green Fees: $49-$99 More Info: legacygolfnc.com, (800) 344-8825

3. Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Southern Pines, N.C. Built during the 1920s' golf boom, Pine Needles and Mid Pines continue to challenge and delight the game's best golfers. At Pine Needles, the classic Donald Ross course has hosted an impressive three U.S. Women's Opens in the last 16 years. Look for challenging greens to test your short game. Opened in 1921, Mid Pines–another Ross design–is hillier and shorter than Pine Needles and is more accommodating to the recreational player. Want to brush up on your game while you're in town? Consider enrolling in one of Peggy Kirk Bell's "Golfaris" a "safari of golf" at Pine Needles.

The Numbers: Par 71, 7,015 yards, 73.5/135 (Pine Needles); Par 72, 6,528 yards, 71/126 (Mid Pines) Architect: Donald Ross Green Fees: $205-$235 (Pine Needles); $150-$180 (Mid Pines) More Info: pineneedles-midpines.com, (800) 747-7272 Gene Hamm's Beacon Ridge Golf & Country Club only measures 6,414 yards from the tips, but don't be fooled. You'll need your "A" game there.

4. Pinewild Country Club Pinehurst, N.C. Boasting two championship courses that challenge golfers of all levels, Pinewild Country Club is a must-play if you're in the Sandhills region. The Magnolia, designed by Gene Hamm, meanders through longleaf pines and has recently undergone a comprehensive renovation. The Gary Player-designed Holly is a classic "risk/reward" layout. All complemented by beautifully wooded terrain, rolling hills, ponds and streams. Looking for Tour validation? Pinewild has hosted the PGA Tour's Qualifying School and the LPGA's Pinewild Championship.

The Numbers: Par 72, 7,276 yards, 75.6/135 (Magnolia); Par 72, 6,425 yards, 71.1/131 (Holly) Architects: Gene Hamm (Magnolia); Gary Player (Holly) Green Fees: $135 More Info: pinewildcc.com, (800) 523-1499

5. Talamore Golf Resort Southern Pines, N.C. Talamore was named "North Carolina Golf Course of the Year" in both 2002 and 2003, and has been honored with a four and a half star ranking by Golf Digest. While this Rees Jones design may get a lot of press for its llama caddie program (yes, llamas), it shouldn't overshadow the quality of the golf course. After all, Talamore was designed by the "Open Doctor" himself–a man who's known for getting the best courses in peak condition.

The Numbers: Par 71, 6,840 yards, 73/142 Architect: Rees Jones Green Fees: $99-$119 More Info: talamoregolfresort.com, (800) 552-6292

STAY

Best Western Pinehurst Inn Located on Highway 1 South in Southern Pines, the Best Western Pinehurst Inn boasts a knowledgeable staff, clean rooms and access to Wi-Fi. But what we really like is the special they're currently promoting: From now through May 17, you can spend two nights and play three rounds of golf (at Hyland, Beacon Ridge and Longleaf) for just $272 per person (based on double occupancy). Price includes room, taxes, breakfast, green fees and cart fees. Alternate courses available. For more information, call (910) 692-0640 or visit bestwestern.com.

Talamore Golf Resort

DIVERSIONS

With a wide range of cultural activities in the area, you'll never lack things to do off-course. Like history and museums? Check out the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, the National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame or the Tufts Archives located in the Given Memorial Library (in the Village of Pinehurst). If outdoor recreation appeals to you, consider the Aloha Safari Zoo, Carolina Horse Park at Five Points (they hold a steeplechase in April) or the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve. Artistically inclined? There's plenty to do, including the Campbell House Galleries and the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. For more information, homeofgolf.com.

HOW TO GET THERE

The Pinehurst area enjoys easy access by auto from Interstates 95, 85, 40 and 73/74. Airports include Fayetteville, Raleigh-Durham, Greensboro and Charlotte. The nearby Moore County Airport can handle private aircraft.

PLAYING CONDITIONS

Mid-March to Mid-May: What golf is all about. Dogwoods, azaleas in bloom, Carolina blue skies, crisp clean air. Make your reservations well in advance for weekend play. Average highs: 62_¡ to 79_¡.

Mid-May to Mid-June: Ideal weather with a few hot days mixed in and you'll save money compared to the spring season. Average highs: 70_¡ to 85_¡.

MORE INFORMATION

homeofgolf.com

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