We have a plan for Pinehurst, one that is entirely contingent on whether the weather cooperates. Our plan is to drive down on Friday/Saturday this week and play Dormie on Saturday. According to the weather websites, we will face sixty degree temperatures with a ten percent chance of rain. Dormie is a fairly fresh golf course, designed and built by the firm of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. It is currently a semi-private course with designs on going fully private within three years. While the membership would be excited to close the doors on outside play, loss of access to the course would be a shame for the traveling golfer who makes her/his way to the sand hills.
Sunday brings a round of golf at Pine Needles, one of four Donald J. Ross courses we hope to play during our time in North Carolina. Pine Needles is a former site of the USGA Women’s Open. This is a significant thing, as a typical women’s open course is purt’near perfect for the typical man. No matter how much our delusional egos convince us that we can handle a 7200-yard layout-of-the-male-pros, we cannot, we must not, we will not. The average ladies course runs between 6200 and 6600 yards, ideal for amateur-golfing dudes. Pine Needles also has a warm-up short course, with holes that mimic shots and situations found on the big course. It typically serves as a warm-up or cool-down for before/after round play. As far as weather, not so nice. Could be rainy, could even be snowy! And I’ve promised our Tar Heel-state friends that I will not bring snow their way.
Monday is the marathon day, the 36-holes of play over MidPines and Pinehurst # 1. MidPines is owned by the same people as Pine Needles, sits across the street and was also designed by Ross. It was necessary to fit a double-round day in somewhere and the penultimate day seemed as good as any. Despite traversing terrain similar to that of its neighbor, word on the green is that MidPines has a different taste from Pine Needles. That’s a good thing. We’ve already played Southern Pines, yet another Ross course in the area. Although at least a dozen other architects have laid trace in the region, the Ross courses are where it is at.
In the afternoon, our plan is to move to the big resort in town, the one eponymous with the municipality. The #1 course (you guessed it, a Ross!) is a throwback to a kinder, gentler time. It’s neither long nor demanding, the perfect course for four middle-aged dudes in need of a relaxing second eighteen. My plan is to play hickory clubs over #1, to recapture the feel of the equipment in use when Pinehurst was young. If Sunday’s weather is any indication (and if it persists), we will be in for a chilly 36. Not ideal, but these beggers cannot be choosers.
Tuesday is departure day, filled with a final round of golf and an eleven-hour drive north. What a round, mind you. No less than the #2 course at Pinehurst awaits. Site of PGA Tour and Ryder Cup events, USGA Open championships and, in 2014, back-to-back (Men, then Women) Open championships. #2 underwent a restoration by the same Coore & Crenshaw who designed Dormie. Gone are the wall-to-wall lush fairways and thick roughs. Replaced by wire grass and sandy waste areas, the course has returned to its roots. We are over the moon about playing #2, usually included in any publication’s top-20 list.
Here’s hoping Mother Nature smiles on four days in North Carolina.