This is a real Donald Ross gem built in 1926 as the sister to Mid-Pines that opened about 5 years earlier. This part of the resort has a casual feel, 74 rooms in chalet style lodges. The course was renovated in 2004 in preparation for the third U.S. Women’s Open in 2007. The work was done by a Ross aficionado John Fought and he restored it back to the specifications of the original Ross design. So you are playing a true Donald Ross experience here.
Play from the Ross tees, this is where the women played their championship, it is very playable but challenging as well. The course is routed through the pine trees that clearly define every hole and play into the strategy of positioning of your tee balls. The course has a good deal of up and down so you will be recalibrating irons all day. All the driving areas are generous so the big dog should eat until he is plump. It’s only shortcoming is that it’s par fives lack length, but the finesse aspect of the par fours and threes make up for this. The par fours in the middle of each nine will get your attention.
Green complexes are very Ross-esque-they require sound forethought before hitting your approaches and pitches. The major design feature is that all greens are exceedingly accessible. The course is not over bunkered at all. Typical hole has two maybe three greenside bunkers but all have some direct access along the front. The greens have some of the crowning you see on #2, many pitching areas and swales off the sides and back, and a unique design feature I call “saucering”. Most of the greens have a six foot collar that surrounds the green and actually feeds balls back onto the putting surface rather than throwing them off. This is neat and presents some interesting pitching options around the greens.
Women’s Open was here in 1996, 2001, and 2007-the quality of the winners lets you know how good of a track this is. Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, and Cristie Kerr won here respectively. For Kerr it was probably here breakout moment as a professional-her career jumped to another level after that win. This is a top flight venue that is worth the price of admission and more.
(All photos from http://www.pineneedles-midpines.com)
PInehurst, North Carolina
Architect: Donald Ross (1928)
Tees Par Yards Rating Slope
Ross 71 6436 70.6 126
Regular 71 6985 68.5 120
(Click to see complete Pine Needles hole-by-hole descriptions)