Pinehurst/Sandhills, NC – Step back in time to a place where the pace of life is simpler but where there is more than enough to see and do. Long renowned as the “Home of American Golf”, the historic “New England” style village of Pinehurst is only one of two towns in America to be designated as a national landmark. It is also a top-ranked golf vacation destination. So start planning now. Imagine playing some of the best golf in the country, then relaxing and exploring all the charms and amenities historic Pinehurst has to offer. After a round, you can stroll through the tiny hamlets surrounded by stately colonial homes or window shop in family-run boutiques, unique gift shops and galleries, stop at a quaint café or fine dine at a beautifully restored historic restaurant. You might even visit the “loo” where Payne Stewart signed the wall after winning the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst #2.
In terms of ‘bang for your buck’, there is no better place to stay and experience the area than the Talamore Golf Resort. Mere footsteps from the charming village of Pinehurst, Talamore will thrill you with two world-class golf courses right on premises – the Talamore Golf Club and The Mid South Club. They also offer two luxurious lodging options for your stay. And, their in-house travel company offers great golf packages to more than 40 golf courses located within a 15 mile radius.
We were fortunate enough to stay at the Villas at Talamore in a 1350 square foot two bedroom, well appointed unit with a private deck offering spectacular views of the Reservoir Park and Talamore golf course. Each 2 or 3 bedroom villa has 2 full size beds, 2 bathrooms, full kitchens, spacious living & dining rooms, washer/dryer, wireless internet, daily maid service and use of the other resort amenities.
If you want to step it up a notch, go for The Lodges at Mid South Club. These 1,800 square foot luxury condominiums are located beside the clubhouse with great views of the 1st, 9th and 18th holes. Every unit features a spiral staircase that graciously leads to the second level, a gourmet kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, plasma TVs, finishing touches like custom millwork and a huge front and rear porch to hang out on. How perfect is that?
We started off playing the Talamore course, voted “Best New Course in the South” by Golf Digest in 1992 and named as one of their top 5 “New Courses in America” that same year.
The course measures out at only 6,800 yards, but with a course rating of 73.2 and a slope of 140. There is 180 feet of dramatic elevation change, over 100 bunkers and tricky greens. This is a position course. Landing areas are generous but your ability to line up your tee shot for a clear angle into the greens is critical, especially on the dogleg holes. “Strategy is an important key to a successful round here. Length is not going to be a benefit to the long hitter” says designer, Rees Jones.
The opening hole pretty much sets the tone for your round at Talamore. A 609 yard (623 yards from the golds) narrow par 5 that forces you to position your shots down the left side, the entire hole, to avoid nothing but trouble on the right. Distance is not the key here, positioning is since it is a 3 shot hole, at best.
One of the most unique holes, I have ever played is the par 3, 5th hole where one day you could be playing the blue tees from 181 yards teeing off in a northerly direction and the next day you could be playing it from 137 yards and facing west – two completely different sets of tees for the same hole.
Make sure you leave a little in the “gas tank” for the 18th. As the yardage book says, “Good Luck” is needed for a great finale. At 400+ yards, this par 4 is another one of those risk/reward holes, with water crossing down the left hand side of the fairway, offering you an opportunity to bite off as much as you can chew. Do not “pull’ your approach shot because the green is guarded by a huge bunker on the left.
After a very satisfying game and exceptionally fast play on the Back 9, we decided to quench our thirst at the well-appointed 19th Hole and reminisce about our day. To our surprise and pleasure the beers were only $2.00 apiece. Does life get any better than this?
The next day we played the Arnold Palmer masterpiece, Mid South Club, which boasts the honor of hosting the qualifying tournaments for the US Open, US Amateur, US Senior Open as well as many other prestigious events.
I believe Palmer likes to design his courses to reward those who play the tees recommended for their particular handicap and punish those who move up or too far back. The 1st hole reinforces my theory, since you need a daunting 225 yard drive in the air to clear the bunkers and reach the fairway if you are attempting to play off the back tees. However if you hit a good drive you will have a short iron to a generous elevated green.
The 2nd hole helps set the tone for the rest of your round. A well-designed “risk-reward” par 4 that doglegs around a large pond but “slicers” beware, if you hit the ball right on this hole you are going to get wet!
The 18th is a great finishing hole, a long par 4 that forces you to position your drive down the right side of the fairway to reduce your distance to the green. Water comes into play for any errant slicers off the tee and regardless, your long approach shot will be completely over water. So yes, life can get better!
I have attended or exhibited at hundreds of Golf & Travel Shows in my career and whenever I am asked by a couple “What are your favorite destinations for couples?” Pinehurst/Sandhills NC and Charleston SC springs to mind. These are “must visit” destinations not just for the guys, but also couples looking for a fabulous golf getaway, with a little romance thrown in for good measure. As I toured the area, I couldn’t help but think “my wife would love it here”. There is just so much to do for golfers and non-golfers alike. Whatever is lacking in nightlife is more than offset by the ambience and welcoming hospitality of this quaint and picturesque village.
Whether you’re planning to come to the Pinehurst for a traditional golf holiday or an extended vacation, consider either the Talamore Villas or the Mid South Lodge as your home base. For more information, you can call them toll free at 1-800-552-6292 or visit them online at www.talamoregolfresort.com