Donald Ross Holes Top Pinehurst Region Poll

Pinehurst No. 2 Golf Course Hole 18 (Image: Pinehurst Resort)

Golfers walk the 18th hole at Donald Ross masterwork Pinehurst No. 2. (Image: Pinehurst Resort)

Two iconic Donald Ross courses, Pinehurst No. 2 and Mid Pines, dominate a new ranking of the 18 best golf holes in the Pinehurst region of North Carolina.

Like everyone who has played Pinehurst No. 2 and the other top Sandhills courses in and around Pinehurst, North Carolina, you returned home with vivid memories of your favourite holes.

But how do your picks compare with those of a group of local experts?

Donald Ross

Donald Ross towered over the golf scene in the Pinehurst area from his arrival in 1900.

In partnership with Global Golf Post, the Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau recently published a juried list of the 18 best golf holes in the Pinehurst region.

The 10 members of the selection committee shared a strong background in the game and familiarity with the more than 40 local courses. The goal was to create a traditional par-72 course—with four par-3s, four par-5s, and 10 par-4s—chosen from the holes at both public and private courses.

“For those who know the area, the list will likely have them nodding their heads in approval about many of the holes, while raising their eyebrows at some others,” says Phil Werz, President and CEO of the Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen Area CVB. “For prospective visitors to the area, it’s a bucket list of sorts.”

No surprise that Donald Ross’s Pinehurst No. 2 has three holes on the list: the par-5 fifth (widely rated one of the great par-4 holes in the world), the par-3 ninth, and the par-4 18th, where Payne Stewart struck one of golf’s most memorable poses after sinking the putt that won the 1999 U.S. Open.

Mid Pines, a Ross design recently updated by Kyle Franz, also has three holes on the list: the par-4 fourth and 12th holes, along with the par-5 15th.

Mid Pines golf course Hole 15 (Image: Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club)

Another Ross jewel: the par-four 15th at Mid Pines Golf Club. (Image: Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club)

Tobacco Road, a famously innovative design by the late Mike Strantz, is represented by its par-5 first hole, as well as its demanding par-3 14th.

The Country Club of North Carolina, the star attraction at the oldest gated golf community in the Sandhills, is represented by single holes from both its Dogwood and Cardinal courses, while Pinehurst No. 4, Pinehurst No. 8, Pine Needles, Dormie Club, Legacy Golf Links, Forest Creek North, Mid South Club and Talamore each have one hole among the 18.

Agree or disagree, it’s a thought-provoking list. Here’s a rundown of the 18 holes selected, complete with hole descriptions as they appeared in the September 28, 2020 edition of Global Golf Post:

Pinehurst No. 2—18th hole

Par 4, 366 yards

A strong hole that plays uphill from tee to green. It’s where Payne Stewart made history and golfers strike their own pose for photographs. Making par on this hole makes the post-round beverage taste even better.

Pinehurst No. 2—9th hole

Par 3, 148 yards

The essence of Donald Ross’ genius with brilliant bunkering around a two-tiered green that demands precision. Beautifully restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

Pinehurst No. 2—5th hole

Par 5, 462 yards

Long considered one of the great par-4s in the world (only 29 percent of the field hit the green in the 1999 U.S. Open), it has been converted to a par-5 while still featuring one of the most dangerous crowned green complexes anywhere.

Pine Needles—2nd hole

Par 4, 438 yards

This is a testament to simple but outstanding design. After a tee shot to the crest of a hill, the approach is often played from a downhill lie to a green that runs away.

Mid Pines—15th hole

Par 5, 478 yards

Another example of Ross’ design ingenuity, this par-5 offers multiple challenges. A good tee shot that avoids fairway bunkers allows longer hitters to reach the green in two.

Mid Pines—12th hole

Par 4, 380 yards

This is a beautiful example of Sandhills golf. It’s not over long or threatening but it rewards good shots, penalizes misses and forces players to stay below the hole on the sloping green.

Mid Pines—4th hole

Par 4, 330 yards

Another exceptional short par-4 that showcases Ross design features. It’s about position rather than power. Keeping the ball to the left off the tee and into the green becomes the challenge.

Country Club of North Carolina (Cardinal)—15th hole

Par 5, 521 yards

This is a classic risk-reward par-5 that gets increasingly more challenging as players approach the green. Bunkers right, water left and a two-tiered green make accuracy critical.

Country Club of North Carolina (Dogwood)—13th hole

Par 3, 166 yards

Ellis Maples designed many of the favourite courses throughout the Carolinas and CCNC represents his best work. When Kris Spence updated the Dogwood, he enhanced an already demanding hole.

Pinehurst No. 8—14th hole

Par 4, 363 yards

The challenge starts at the tee where players must determine how much of the marsh to challenge on this Tom Fazio design. The more aggressive the tee shot, the easier the approach shot.

Tobacco Road—14th  hole

Par 3, 178 yards

Designer Mike Strantz was also an artist and he created a beauty with this short hole that incorporates water, sand and wispy grasses. No wonder players snap photographs of this hole.

Tobacco Road—1st hole

Par 5, 547 yards

This hole makes a dramatic first impression, requiring a tee shot between two enormous dunes, offering a hint of Strantz’s gift for visuals. It only gets more fun from there.

Legacy Golf Links—18th hole

Par 4, 432 yards

This finishing hole is nicknamed “The Bear” and not just because Jack Nicklaus designed it with his son, Jack Jr. It’s a brute of a finishing hole that doesn’t surrender many birdies.

Pinehurst No. 4—6th hole

Par 3, 184 yards

Gil Hanse has received enormous praise for his reworking of No. 4 and this hole is a standout. With trouble all around the crowned green, it asks a simple question: Are you good enough?

Dormie Club—3rd hole

Par 4, 298 yards

Coore and Crenshaw created a classic short par-4 here while making it look like it has been there forever. Playing downhill then up to a knobby green, it’s a delight.

Forest Creek (North)—17th hole

Par 4, 361 yards

The culmination of a three-hole run around a lake in the Fazio-designed course. The tee shot must carry water and avoid a fairway bunker before dealing with a pot bunker in front of the green.

Mid South—18th hole

Par 4, 399 yards

The finishing hole on this Arnold Palmer design is a serious challenge. It is cut into a hillside, there is water down the right and a good tee shot still leaves a difficult approach before getting to the clubhouse.

Talamore—18th hole

Par 4, 400 yards

This dogleg left has water and a row of bunkers that split the dual fairway. Players must decide how aggressive to be off the tee knowing a bailout leaves a more challenging shot into the green.

 

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