Pinehurst No. 2 Reigns In U.S.A. Golf

Donald Ross’s celebrated No. 2 course at Pinehurst Resort is the iconic heart of a bucolic North Carolina village named the first Anchor Site of the U.S. Open.


Golf architect Donald Ross. (Image: Pinehurst Resort)

(Last updated March 2022.)

Like the adored founder of a religious cult, legendary golf architect Donald Ross remains a towering figure in Pinehurst more than seven decades after his death.

Ross’s kindly, steel-spectacled likeness is given pride of place on the walls of hotels, restaurants and taverns throughout this bucolic village in the North Carolina sandhills.

But the iconic heart of the “Home of American Golf” is Pinehurst No. 2, the masterwork that made both its Scottish-born designer and the village famous.

So it was with trepidation that in 2011 the acclaimed design team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore unveiled its $US2.5-million restoration of No. 2, a course (one of nine 18-hole layouts at Pinehurst Resort) that Ross obsessively altered until his death in 1948. Though still a world-class challenge, No. 2 had lost much of its original character through the years.

The 12th hole at Pinehurst No. 2. (Image: Pinehurst Resort)

Guided by photos taken during the course’s 1940s heyday, Crenshaw (a two-time Masters champion) and Coore stripped away hectares of turf, returning natural areas of hardpan, sand, pine straw and wiregrass that were part of the original topography. Fairways were widened, offering more strategic options, and bunkers were restored to their original shapes at a course that has hosted three men’s U.S. Opens. In 2014, No. 2 staged both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens.

“Hopefully, Donald Ross would be pleased with what we’ve done,” Crenshaw said of a redesign that launched to rave reviews. “Making changes to No. 2 was like messing with the Mona Lisa.”

All told, 43 courses are found either in Pinehurst or within easy reach of the village, located 113 kilometres southwest of Raleigh, the state capital. Two more high-profile Ross-designed jewels are nearby at the sister resorts Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club and Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club. Recently restored and tweaked by Kyle Franz, Pine Needles Golf Course will host the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open Championship, June 2 to 5.

But it is largely the fame and influence of Pinehurst No. 2 that keeps golfers coming back. In September 2020, the USGA pronounced Pinehurst the first Anchor Site of the U.S. Open, with the men’s championship returning to Pinehurst No. 2 in 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.

Donald Ross would be proud.