“We Built This City on Rock And Ross.” Donald Ross’s imprint on golf-course design has been everlasting. Ross’s love affair with Pinehurst began with his work on the famed No. 2 course at the Pinehurst Resort–a course most experts agree is not only the finest of Ross’s designs, but also among the best ever designed in America. And although he designed or redesigned more than 400 courses (no, that’s not a misprint) in 30 states, Pinehurst remains the single greatest collection of Donald Ross courses you can play, including those at Pinehurst Resort, Pine Needles Lodge and Mid Pines Inn. For a great review on the legend of the Scotland-born Donald Ross, hop online and check out the Donald Ross Society at www.donaldrosssociety.org.
Girl Power. The gals will be back in ’07–Michelle, Cristie, Natalie, Paula and defending champion Annika Sorenstam will put their top games to the ultimate test at Pine Needles, host course for the 2007 Women’s U.S. Open in June. Pine Needles, designed by Donald Ross (but refurbished by John Fought), is a must-play for any golfer coming to Pinehurst. The driving, iron, short and recovery games are all put to the test on this championship-caliber layout. Also, one shouldn’t miss Pine Needles’ slightly older sibling–Mid Pines. It too is among Ross’s most highly acclaimed courses in Pinehurst. And by the way, if you guys aren’t convinced these girls can play, come be humbled and watch the stars of the LPGA. For more information, visit www.uswomensopen.com.
The Big Daddy. Let’s end the confusion. When people refer to “Pinehurst,” the distinction ought to be made between the Pinehurst Resort and the actual town of Pinehurst. Pinehurst Resort is in, well, Pinehurst, N.C. When referring to the Pinehurst area, that also includes the surrounding towns of Southern Pines and Aberdeen. (All three places reside in Moore County.) Pinehurst Resort, however, remains the prima donna of the region, housing some of the most special and monumental courses in the world. There are eight courses here, with the Donald Ross-designed No. 2 garnering the most praise. If you get a chance, play it. If not, play No. 7 and No. 8. Heck, play ’em all if you can! For more on the Pinehurst Resort, check out www.pinehurst.com.
Golf Schools. Since most golfers who visit Pinehurst will be playing several rounds during their stay, it only makes sense to take a lesson or two. Pinehurst is home to several great golf schools, and among the most popular are the John Jacobs Golf School located at Woodlake Resort, the School for Learning Golf at Pine Needles, and lastly, the Golf Advantage School located at Pinehurst Resort. All three will have golfers primed for the rounds of their lives. For more, visit www.jacobsgolf.com, www.golfari.com, www.pinehurst.com/golf_school.asp.
Package Providers. Like a few other popular destinations in the United States, Pinehurst also has its fair share of solid golf-package providers who can take over all the hassles of hotel reservations, tee times and restaurant recommendations. The best way to get started is to browse sites on the Internet. Start with Sandhills (www.sandhillsgolf.com) and you’ll see there’s plenty to choose from. Other popular package providers include GolfPac (www.golfpactravel.com), Condotels (www.condotelsofpinehurst.com) and Pinehurst Golf Trips (www.pinehurstgolftrips.com)._Ê
Old-Time Charm. Opened in 1921, Mid Pines, a Donald Ross-designed layout is a pure classic and significantly hillier and somewhat shorter than its sister course at Pine Needles. Nevertheless, this is the kind of course that’s in vogue, requiring golfers to do more than just bomb drives and hit high approaches. Mid Pines is a true thinker’s course, but it’s designed a bit softer and is more accommodating to the recreational player. In fact, Donald Ross designed this course to be fun first and challenging second. Either way, Mid Pines is a must-play for players of all abilities. It’s a hoot. Visit www.pineneedles-midpines.com.
Side Trippin’. Yes, it’s true. Pinehurst is and always will be a golf destination, and compared to other golf hubs, what’s left to be done between rounds is less than what you’d find at places like Las Vegas or Orlando. Nevertheless, there are a few things to do, if time allows. First, the Campbell House Gallery has a variety of art pieces for sale by local artists. The House in the Horseshoe is an 18th-century plantation home that was formerly a cotton plantation. (The house clearly shows bullet holes resulting from a 1781 skirmish between Whigs and Tories.) Finally, the North Carolina Zoological Park ranks among the top five in North America. Don’t miss it. Links and phone numbers for all three attractions can be found at www.homeofgolf.com.
Springtime In Pinehurst. The dogwood and azaleas are in bloom, the skies are blue, and the greens and fairways are a vibrant green, bearing some of the most beautiful golf conditions anywhere in the world. The temperatures are darn near perfect, hovering in the low 60s to low 70s. But that doesn’t mean the Pinehurst vicinity is a mere springtime destination. Year-round golf is plentiful, as summer and fall round out the other popular season. Winter is playable too, if you don’t mind the occasional frost delay!
Good Eats. When it comes to grabbing a bite, look no further than the offerings you’ll find at the Pinehurst Resort. There you’ll find everything that suits a golfer. Beginning with the 1895 Grille, golfers can don their golf apparel and still maintain a gourmet atmosphere. The Tavern is just that–a replica Scottish tavern (with an authentic bar) that serves tasty fare or sandwiches, beverages and other goodies. Other great spots to catch a beer and some food include the 91st Hole, The Ryder Cup Lounge, Donald Ross Grill and the Fairwoods on Seven Dining Room. For an even more in-depth look at the great places to eat at the Pinehurst Resort, visit www.pinehurst.com.
National Pastime. It’s not only Donald Ross who has left his imprint on Pinehurst. The highly touted National Golf Club features the only Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in the area, making it a must-play for the consummate player. The rolling Sandhills combine with wide fairways and tricky putting greens–both are a departure from the more old-fashioned variety of Donald Ross designs. Nevertheless, National GC is a welcome challenge for golfers accustomed to current, modern-day designs. It’s also a great place to eat, as the Cornerstone Restaurant remains one of the most popular fancy eateries in town. For more, visit www.nationalgolfclub.com.
5 Places To Stay
1. Pinehurst Resort
With three accommodation options available, this grand, stately resort offers something for everyone. Especially those who value Southern hospitality and charm.
2. The Pine Crest Inn
Close to all the area golf courses, the Pine Crest Inn is part of local history. Donald Ross used to own it. Like to sing? Check out Mr. B’s Lounge–the piano gets a workout.
3. Foxfire Golf And Country Club
Two traditional layouts set under the Carolina Sky. One- two- and three-bedroom lake and fairway villas and condos mean you’re never far from the action.
4. Homewood Suites
Less than a mile from Pinehurst Village, this all-suite accommodation is affordably priced. Ask the staff to help with tours._Ê
5. Springhill Suites
With 25 percent more room than a traditional hotel room, SpringHill Suites is the perfect choice for a large group of golfers._Ê
Packages That’ll Save You $$$
1. Donald Ross Package_Ê
Accommodations at Pine Needles or Mid Pines, two rounds of golf per day, breakfast and dinner daily. $290-$380
2. Putter Boy Package
Unlimited golf daily on any of Pinehurst Resort’s eight courses, one sleeve of balls and cart, Accommodations, etc. $591-$924
3. Pinehurst Championship Package
Unlimited championship golf on all eight courses for three days, caddie on #2 with your name on his jersey, etc. $2,006
4. Pinehurst Golf Advantage School
A 5:1 student-teacher ratio ensures you get plenty of individual attention._Ê
5. Foxfire Golf Package
One night lodging, one round with cart on either the East or West Course. $99-$139
7 Major Moments In Pinehurst
1. 1936 PGA Championship
Prior to the tournament, the #2 course converts its greens from sand to grass. Danny Shute finishes on top.
2. 1940 North And South Open
27-year-old Ben Hogan, winless in seven years on Tour, finally defeats his demons (and the rest of the field) to capture his first professional victory at Pinehurst’s #2 course. Sam Snead is runner up.
3. 1959 North And South Amateur
19-year-old Columbus, Ohio-native Jack Nicklaus captures one of his biggest tournaments to date. 26 years later, Nicklaus’s son Jackie bests the field at Pinehurst’s #2 to win the same tourney.
4. 1996 U.S. Women’s Open
Annika Sorenstam dominates the field at Pine Needles, shooting eight-under par to capture her second straight U.S. Women’s Open. It’s her last Open victory until 2006, when she wins in a playoff at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island.
5. 1999 U.S. Open
After Payne Stewart drains a 15-foot par putt on the 18th green at Pinehurst’s #2 course to defeat Phil Mickelson, he pumps his fist and leaps into his caddy’s arms. Four months later, Stewart dies in a tragic plane crash. Today his victory celebration is immortalized in bronze at the clubhouse.
6. 2001 U.S. Women’s Open
26-year-old Aussie Karrie Webb becomes the seventh woman to repeat as U.S. Open champ, and blows away the field by eight shots in the process.
7. 2005 U.S. Open
After Gore and Goosen collapse, New Zealander Michael Campbell squeaks out a win over the hard-charging Tiger Woods.