When a Buckeye came looking for recommendations about a golf bachelor party, it took all of my professionalism as a Michigan fan to keep from sending him to a few cow pasture courses and restaurant dives.
Reader George F. Keves reached out to Golf Advisor by e-mail for advice on a "sort of" golf bachelor party trip to Pinehurst for his son, an OSU graduate, and a group of seven other friends and family around mid May. The group will be split into a foursome of older men, with handicaps in the 10-14 range, and a younger foursome, who are all single-digit handicaps. Keves and his son have played golf in Pinehurst numerous times although the others haven't.
He's curious what conditions will be like at that time, which is essentially shoulder season in the Sandhills, and where else to play than just the resort.
"It appears that 'golf season' in and around Pinehurst ends in about mid May, so if "rates" drop, does the quality of the courses and play (too)? We want NO part of aerated greens, for example," he wrote.
The Carolina Sandhills in May
I did some digging for Keves. The weather in May potentially could be quite nice. According to weather.com, the average low (55 degrees) and high (79 degrees) are just about perfect for golf. Not too cold. Not too hot. May is also second only to April for the lowest average of precipitation in the area (3.1 inches of rain to 3.0).
Bob Farren, Pinehurst Resort's director of grounds and golf course maintenance, indicated through a spokesman that the resort's nine courses are in "optimal shape" at that time of the year.
"Fairways are firm and fast," Farren said. "Greens are in great shape. The Bermuda grass has had time to come in appropriately. And the weather is ideal -- warm but not hot as in the summer months."
Farren added that aeration shouldn't be an issue: Bentgrass greens are done in November and Bermuda greens in late July/August.
Golf options in the Pinehurst area
Keves indicated that cost could be an issue, but since this is a special occasion and most of the group hasn't been to Pinehurst before, I think splurging to play Pinehurst No. 2 is certainly justified. (The bride might believe, otherwise.) I'd play Pinehurst No. 4, a Tom Fazio redo, before I play Fazio's Pinehurst No. 8, although both are top 100-caliber rounds.
I'd definitely include a day at the 6,723-yard Mid Pines Golf Club, a restored Donald Ross routing dating to 1921. Architect Kyle Franz used aerial photos from the Tufts Archives as a blueprint to uncover sandy native areas lining in the fairways that had been lost over the years. It's a fun round that's less penal but similar to Pinehurst No. 2. Pine Needles Golf Club across the street is excellent -- it has hosted the U.S. Women's Open multiple times -- but if you feel like you are running out of time or money, you can opt elsewhere.
I've heard nothing but positive recommendations about the Dormie Club, a semiprivate Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design in West End that's walkabout and enjoyable. Both the good players and the average guys in the group will enjoy it. If the higher handicaps want to save a little cash, they can head up the road to Beacon Ridge Golf & Country Club, a 6,400-yard classic course that plays about 6,700 yards because of sweeping elevation changes.
One bit of advice for the young guys: Take it easy on the boozing. Missed tee times are expensive!