In 2017, Pinehurst Resort commissioned acclaimed golf course architect Gil Hanse to design a nine-hole short course, The Cradle. Building on that momentum, the resort brought Hanse back to re-create the once-renowned course Pinehurst No. 4. After reopening in 1999 following a remake by Tom Fazio, it was widely regarded as one of the best courses in the U.S., let alone the Carolinas. Ownership charged Hanse with bringing back No. 4’s original Sandhill aesthetic and authentic Donald Ross design elements.
Hanse, designer of the 2016 Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, envisioned No. 4 as a “companion course” to its famed sibling, No. 2. Before hosting back-to-back men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in 2014, No. 2 was restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Hanse, however, is quick to point out the differences between architectural approaches, especially evident in the green complexes.
“There are some greens that are squared off, a tribute to the old school, as well as bunkers 30-40 yards short of greens,” says Hanse. “There are a couple greens that are reminiscent of No. 2, but the greens on No. 4 have their own character and strategy.”
In most cases, the greens on No. 2 naturally repel shots while No. 4 has numerous speed slopes that funnel balls onto the green. Hanse also believes No. 4 features the most interesting topography on the entire Pinehurst property. With a shimmering lake as a centerpiece and natural ridgelines defining corridors, golfers are treated to a brazen blend of sand, native wire grasses and shimmering water.
Hanse equated re-designing No. 4 as a chance to “play in the sand.” Nothing in golf compares to the Sandhills region of North Carolina and its underlying soil. With its vast crossing bunkers and scrubby edges, No. 4 will embody the essence of the region dubbed the “Home of American Golf.”
“It is a companion (to No. 2) in the landscape, but it is not a tribute in the features. The greens are different, the approaches are different and we wanted to take advantage of the landforms, which are much more dramatic than those on No. 2,” says Hanse.
No. 4 further solidifies Pinehurst as one of the world’s truly great golf resorts. The property now features a groundbreaking 789-yard short course, the Cradle. Intended to draw a new audience and provide a fun-yet-fascinating way to experience the game, it rapidly emerged as a rousing success. Dubbed by Golf Channel “the most fun 10 acres in all of golf,” even Hanse claims The Cradle is his most successful project in terms of reaching the intended end-user. Other recent additions include Thistle Dhu, an 18-hole putting course, and a new 19th hole, The Deuce, located just steps from the 18th green on No. 2.
In addition to world-class courses, the Pinehurst Golf Academy offers visiting and local golfers a fun educational experience. Led by Eric Alpenfels, the Academy boasts a unique blend of situational practice and on-course instruction. Students enjoy a round of golf each day, so after working on new skills on the practice range, students will have the chance to test what they’ve learned on the course – with an instructor.
Pinehurst is a very easy trip for most. It’s just over an hour from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and within a half-day’s journey from many East Coast cities. With the fun and unique additions mentioned above, now more than ever it’s a golf oasis worthy of an annual pilgrimage.
For more information about golf packages and schools, visit www.pinehurst.com.