If you are heading to Pinehurst, N.C., for a golf vacation, you have decisions to make. Pinehurst Resort, the most popular golf destination, offers eight quality courses alone. Here is a primer to help make your decision.
The North Carolina Sandhills are golfing country, anchored by the Pinehurst Resort, home to eight courses built between 1897 and 2004.
Few visitors have time to play them all on one trip, especially if you plan on tackling some off-property courses like Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club or Tobacco Road Golf Club, so we've compiled a briefing on each to help you decide which to include in your itinerary.
Logistically speaking, Pinehurst courses No. 1 through No. 5 play out of the main clubhouse facility about two par 4s away from the Carolina Hotel. Courses No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8 are all at their own locations and have their own clubhouses and driving ranges. Resort shuttles take golfers to/from each within about 5-10 minutes drive.
Pinehurst No. 1
The course wasn't originally built by Donald Ross, but Pinehurst No. 1 bears much of his imprint after his redesign in 1913.
Playing just 6,093 yards, it's a favorite of members and resort guests playing their first round of the trip or playing a replay in the afternoon. Don't let the length fool you, subpar short games will be exposed here.
Pinehurst No. 2
The masterpiece of Donald Ross' estimated 400-plus course designs in North America, if only because he lived on the third fairway of Pinehurst No. 2 and was constantly altering the course until his death in 1948.
Though not horribly penal off the tee, the crowned greens steal the show here. They're difficult to hit with approach shots and short-game creativity is a necessity, especially when the course is in its firm, peak season.
Pinehurst No. 3
The shortest of the Pinehurst Resort courses at 5,682 yards and just two sets of tee boxes, Pinehurst No. 3 makes up for it with the smallest greens, many of which are crowned, heavily bunkered with runoff areas. The golf course winds predominantly through residential communities and boasts several long par 4s on the front nine that give the course even more teeth.
Pinehurst No. 4
Probably the most different of the five courses that play out of the main clubhouse, Pinehurst No. 4 was significantly redesigned by Tom Fazio in conjunction with the 1999 U.S. Open. The course plays through many wide-open spaces, and one of the focal points is the large pond that No. 13 and 14 play around.
Waste bunkers and Fazio shaping make No. 4 stand out from the four other designs at the main clubhouse facility and is a favorite second fiddle to No. 2 next door.
Pinehurst No. 5
Ellis Maples succeeded Donald Ross and Pinehurst No. 5 is his sole addition, the last of the courses that play out of the main clubhouse and tees off next to No. 3.
Robert Trent Jones Sr. helped give the course a more modern flair in 1974, and today the course plays a modest 6,848 yards, enough to host some of its own tournaments during the summer.
Pinehurst No. 6
George Fazio and his nephew Tom added Pinehurst No. 6 in conjunction with a new phase of real estate in 1979. Tom returned in 2005 to beef up the shot values and green complexes to make it the course it is today.
Though a championship test at 6,990 yards and a host to collegiate events, it's not as penal as Pinehurst No. 2, 4, 7 and 8.
Pinehurst No. 7
Rees Jones built Pinehurst No. 7 in 1986, on the site of an abandoned nine-hole employee course, and it is set on some of Pinehurst's most dramatic hilly terrain with some splashed wetlands around the low-lying areas.
Jones, who renovated the course in 2003, built most tees and greens at high points, so elevated greens are abundant here. The course plays 7,216 yards, and only No. 2 from the U.S. Open tees plays longer at Pinehurst.
Pinehurst No. 8
While No. 1 through 7 are all semi-private courses, members do not receive any playing privileges on Pinehurst No. 8, a Tom Fazio course that opened in 2005 and aimed at giving anyone a member-for-the-day experience.
Built at the site of the former Pinehurst Gun Club, it's the most spacious and scenic of the Pinehurst courses and is set on 450 natural acres with forest and wetlands, no residential development and few parallel fairways.
Walkability at Pinehurst Resort
Each golf course at Pinehurst allows walking anytime. No. 1 through No. 5 are easier than the No. 6 and No. 7 courses, which were built on more rugged terrain through residential developments, but there are no horrible walks between holes. Course No. 8 has no long walks between holes.