Golf Course Travel Destination: Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, NC
One of America’s oldest golf resorts brings its past into the future — and knocks our socks off
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Contending with a bunker on No. 2’s 14th hole
The second hole, which played as the most difficult in the 2005 U.S. Open, represents everything the restoration was meant to accomplish. As a 503-yard par four, it’s obviously long. What’s not so obvious from the tee, though, is exactly where you’re supposed to hit the ball. Aim straight for the green, and you’ll end up in the hardpan or in a clump of wiregrass. And plan your approach carefully, too, since this is the first of the true turtle-backs on the course. More than one golfer has rolled off, chipped over, bounced back over, and more — all before getting a chance to putt.
It’s tempting, but don’t spend all your golf time on No. 2. There are seven other courses at Pinehurst that are well worth exploring. More than 140 pot bunkers will complicate your round on No. 4, a 6,658-yard par 72 Tom Fazio redesign that was the site of the 2008 U.S. Amateur. It’s definitely a must-play. Traditionalists should also play No. 5, designed by Ellis Maples, where you’ll encounter more water than on any other course at the resort. No. 6 was renovated in 2005 with new bunkers and faster greens, making it a real test. Hudson Valley golfers will feel right at home on No. 7, where elevation changes, wetlands, and large, undulating greens add to the challenge designed by Rees Jones. Tom Fazio built many traditional dips and swales around sloping greens to daunt players on the 6,698-yard No. 8, which commemorated Pinehurst’s centennial in 1996.
With so much golf to play and so many other things to do, Pinehurst is a place worth more than a three-day weekend. Available accommodations include the historic Holly, a boutique hotel with charmingly decorated rooms and public areas; the original grand copper-roofed Carolina; the Manor, a sportsman-style lodge; and numerous condominiums to handle groups of all sizes and budgets. Complimentary shuttle service throughout the property is responsive and efficient.
1895 Grille at the Holly Hotel
For lunch and/or libations, the Ryder Cup Lounge is hard to beat. Combine a Carolina Peach Tee (vodka, gin, rum, tequila, peach schnapps, and sweet tea) with a Pretzel Panini stacked with chicken breast, bacon, and Monterey Jack and slathered with aïoli mayonnaise, and you’re set for the day. For dinner, the best choice is the 1895 Grille at the Holly Hotel, the only Four Diamond restaurant in the area. The lobster mac and cheese with broccolini is not to be missed — it’s the perfect accompaniment to prime filet mignon.
One other thing not to miss at Pinehurst is the Carolina’s extensive display of artifacts and photos chronicling the resort’s history. The team pictures from the 1951 Ryder Cup with Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jack Burke, Jr., et al. is fascinating. The wide-angle shot of Payne Stewart pumping his fist on the 18th green just months before his death will send shivers up your spine. But there are fun displays, too, like the photos of Annie Oakley, who ran the Pinehurst Gun Club from 1916 to 1920 and gave exhibitions at the hotel twice a week. Makes you wonder what kind of golfer she was, doesn’t it?
Fly to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (75 miles from the resort) Shuttle — $65 each way
The Classic Golf Package, as of spring 2012, starts at $241 per person with overnight stay, one round of golf (on course No. 1, 3, or 5), breakfast, and a sleeve of Titleist golf balls. (See Web site for 30-percent-discount applicable dates.)
The Pinehurst Golf Package, including accommodations, one round of golf per night (choose course No. 1, or from courses 3 through 8), breakfast, use of practice range, club storage, and a sleeve of Titleist golf balls starts at $361 for double occupancy at the Manor, and $466 for single occupancy.