Next summer the USGA will be making a bold play in hosting the USGA Men’s and Women’s Opens in consecutive weeks at the same venue. Pinehurst was the natural choice for this undertaking. This quaint, historic golf village is going to receive twice the attention that major championships normally bring. This fall might be a good time for a visit before this storm of attention comes through next summer.
Pinehurst Resort comprises a variety of lodging options, and on this visit we stayed at the venerable Carolina Hotel. This is the signature property with a dramatic tree-lined entry leading to the classic multistory structure topped off with a copper cupola and surrounded by a spacious veranda. As you check in, you will see golfers gathering post-round to recap and share stories on the outdoor rocking chairs. The rooms at the Carolina have been continually updated through the years and feature state-of-the-art electronics and the best in linens. They are also larger than those of newer properties, which comes in handy after a long day on the links. The Carolina has a large pool area with a perfectly manicured putting green, allowing activities for every member of the family. The Spa at Pinehurst is attached to the Carolina and offers a wide array of treatments, as well as a generous fitness center.
The history of Pinehurst is captured in the countless photos that adorn the walls at the Carolina Hotel. All of golf’s greats are remembered here, from Walter Hagen to Jack Nicklaus. What surprised me were all the other luminaries who played a part in the Pinehurst history, including Amelia Earhart and Annie Oakley. This history is expertly condensed into a video that plays continually on the resort’s own TV channel.
Pinehurst’s #2 Course is the most famous of the group, having twice hosted the U.S. Open in recent decades. This Donald Ross monster plays long and tough and has undergone significant remodeling in preparation for the 2014 Open. The original sand-dunes look has been restored along much of the routing replacing the pine straw lining the fairways. The last three holes here usually determine the championship. The 17th is the only realistic birdie chance. This classic tree-lined par three will have a slightly different look on TV next time, with native grass growing high alongside the steep bunkers. Middle of the green is the best play for most.
Ross also created the #3 Course, with #1 having multiple contributors. Numbers 4, 6, and 8 are all Tom Fazio designs. Number 5 is the work of Ellis Maples, and #7 — my own personal favorite — is a Rees Jones creation. All of the layouts feature rolling terrain with excellent drainage and pine trees everywhere. This is a golf nut’s heaven. Courses 1 through 5 all start and end near the main clubhouse with Numbers 6, 7, and 8 a short drive away. The courses are always in excellent shape, but you will find optimum playing conditions in the spring and fall. Pinehurst was the first golf resort to have outstanding practice facilities, and they are still state-of-the-art today.
The Holly Inn located in the Pinehurst Village is also one of the resort’s properties. It has a smaller, more intimate feel and is very popular with PGA Tour Stars and other visiting celebrities. The Holly is home to Pinehurst’s best fine-dining option, appropriately named The 1895 Grille, in honor of the year Pinehurst was started. We dined on filet mignon, and the taste still brings me warm memories. The she-crab soup also hit the spot with the Argentinean malbec I selected.
The Carolina Dining Room is also a popular spot, and we started here each day with the popular breakfast buffet. The Ryder Cup Lounge is a good choice for lunch or drinks in the evening. All three of these restaurants are adorned with priceless golf memorabilia commemorating the great history of the resort. The leather club chairs make for a relaxed environment with no hurry in the evenings.
Pinehurst is a great fit for any type of golf vacation whether a family reunion, couples outing, or guys’ getaway. For complete details, visit pinehurst.com.