VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. -- Talk of Pinehurst No. 9 goes back more than a decade.
First it was to be a Rees Jones design. More recently, it was reported that Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw would get a crack at designing the resort's newest course on land adjacent to and shared by the old Pit Golf Course.
Turns out, Pinehurst No. 9 already existed. The resort purchased the nearby National Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus design dating to 1989. The only Nicklaus course in the Sandhills has been rebranded Pinehurst No. 9 and is immediately open to Pinehurst members. Resort play will begin in July soon after back-to-back men's and women's U.S. Opens on Pinehurst No. 2 in June.
"We're very excited to add this ninth course to our offering and look forward to welcoming National's members to the Pinehurst Resort & Country Club family," Jay Biggs, Senior Vice President of Golf and Club Operations for Pinehurst, said in a statement. "The golf course presents a challenging test in a beautiful setting that complements our eight other courses."
The 7,150-yard National has received mostly positive reviews from users on GolfAdvisor. One reviewer, TSDCRH, who plays to a 5-to-9 handicap gave it four stars and wrote: "The course is very challenging and in great shape. Not your typical Nicklaus course, it really is a fair and forgiving layout. Highly recommend to play if you are in the area."
National Golf Club, bought from the Robinette family who developed it, underwent a renovation in 2012 that softened green contours and re-grassed the putting surfaces with more consistent A1/A4 bentgrass. Pinehurst already plans to upgrade some of the club's amenities -- a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse, five tennis courts, pool, banquet facilities and restaurant. Pinehurst recently completed a $4 million renovation of its own main clubhouse and has plans for an expansive, multi-million-dollar aquatics facility targeted for completion next summer.
The resort -- which opened Pinehurst No. 8 in 1996 -- now boasts courses designed or renovated by Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Donald Ross, Rees Jones, Ellis Maples and Coore/Crenshaw.
Meanwhile, The Pit, purchased by Pinehurst in 2011, remains closed, although Coore and Crenshaw reportedly have a routing ready if the resort ever wants even more golf.