PINEHURST, NC --- If you have never been to the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, “Sandhills” area, then you just don’t know what you are missing.
This quaint North Carolina locale is known for its golf courses – the Number 2 Course at Pinehurst Resort will host this year’s USGA Men’s and Women’s Open Championships – but also its serenity.
Unlike some mega-golf destinations, the Pinehurst area has all one could want from a vacation spot but also the serenity, comfort and quiet one wants when they also want to kick back and enjoy like.
Still, being golfers, we do want to sample fairways and greens. And while the Pinehurst Resort is the marquis name in these parts, it’s not the only drawing card.
For my money, the two resorts directly across Midland Road from each other – Mid Pines and Pine Needles – are superb spots. Both feature Donald Ross designed layouts, and both have been ranked in national magazines “best” lists. Pine Needles has hosted three Women’s U.S. Opens on its own.”
“We offer our guests all they could want in a resort destination, but of course the focal point is great golf,” explains Kelly Miller, president of the Pine Needles/Mid Pines ownership company. Pine Needles offers a traditional Ross design, and Mid Pines is an outstanding challenge from another era.”
Much has been made of the restoration of Pinehurst Number 2 in preparation for the two national championships, but those in the know are aware that Mid Pines underwent a restoration of its own. The course opened in 1921, and over the years developed such a following that players had it ranked either first, second or third on their list of places to play in the area.
Architect Kyle Franz resurfaced the greens to hybrid Bermura grass, making the flat stick challenges fast and firm. The rough has been thinned, the bunkers re-worked with harder sand, and the overall challenge has been beautified, spruced up and manicured into an even better challenge.
Mid Pines is a walking course, given its compact 91 acres, as greens and tees are close together and there are none of the long walks between holes that abound in residential courses build over the last 40 years. While there are some houses along the perimeter of the layout, inside those 91 acres are just golfers and nature.
Pine Needles has many similarities with Mid Pines but it’s also worlds apart. Fairways are a little wider, and the green complexes a little more dastardly, but on both courses Mr. Ross blended the sand hills with stately pines, and hospitality second to none.
The spirit of Peggy Kirk Bell and her family abounds, as comfort, challenge and just the love of the game of golf is apparent. A half dozen USGA Championships have graced the fairways of Pine Needles, including three U.S. Women’s Opens. Who can forget wins by Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Cristie Kerr at Pine Needles?
History abounds both Pine Needles and Mid Pines. One never knows who you might run into at the resorts, from dignitaries to golf professionals, and while today each resort features all the amenities one expects from first class destinations, each also has its own charm. Sitting on the veranda at Mid Pines, watching the golfers play their final hole, is a treat.
The eyes of the golf world will be on Pinehurst in June, when on back-to-back weeks the Men’s and Women’s US Open will be on venerable Number 2, which underwent a re-tooling by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore in2010. The site of Payne Stewart’s magnificent win will challenge the best golfers in the worlds.
While in the area visitors may sample Tobacco Road, the fine creation from the mind of Mike Strantz, or some of the areas scores of other courses. Price points for golf in the area are as wide as a friendly fairway, with packages making accommodations and golf affordable.
There is no shortage of challenges in the Sandhills area of North Carolina. It’s pristine, picturesque, perfect Pinehurst and serene, stellar Southern Pines. A good example is Southern Pines Golf Club, a Ross original design, and The Dormie Club, a recent offering off the pencils of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
Don’t miss it.
CHIP SHOTS: Pinehurst No. 2 is ranked as the number one ranked course in North Carolina in the Golfweek Magazine rankings, and right behind in order are Mid Pines, Dormie Club and Pine Needles. Also in the top 10 are Tobacco Road and Pinehurst No. 4 and 8….All of the clubs in this story feature outstanding practice facilities.