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Any 19th hole discussion of best courses in the United States will always involve mention of Pinehurst No.2.
Opened in 1907, it is regarded as the masterpiece of legendary Scottish golf designer Donald Ross.
The course is the star attraction of Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, a location that boasts no less than nine 18-hole golf courses, each referred to simply by number.
Ross continued to work on the course until his death in 1948 and No.2 has since been the subject of redesigns and restorations from Robert Trent Jones in 1974 and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2010.
The latter involved the removal of 35 acres of turf and the reintroduction of hardpan, natural bunker edges, and native wire grasses to bring the course back to Ross’s original design plan.
As a public course, the bucket-list golfer has the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the famous while many fans will know it from TV coverage as Pinehurst No.2 has staged a Ryder Cup, three US Opens, a PGA Championship and a Women’s US Open.
Famous for its turtleback greens with shaved run-off areas, Pinehurst No.2 is one of the most distinctive golf courses in America. Hitting those greens is one thing but holding them is something completely different as what appear solid shots sweep away from flags and trickle off down slopes.
At first glance, the lack of rough suggests the course will yield low scores but slopes, cleverly-placed bunkers and those beguiling greens quickly change that opinion. Those who value creativity love Pinehurst No.2 given the emphasis it puts on short game. Rather than hack out of greenside rough, players can chip, flop, pitch, or even putt back up the slopes – the latter a tactic that Martin Kaymer employed to great effect when winning the 2014 U.S. Open here.
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Yardage: 7,588 yards
Pinehurst No.2 course designer: Donald Ross (1907)
Pebble Beach course record: 62, Tom Watson, Gibby Gilbert (1973 World Open), Hale Irwin (1977 Colgate Hall of Fame Classic)
A week dominated by Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who opened with 65 to lead by three and never looked back. The German added laps of 65,72 and 69 to romp to an eight-shot win.
New Zealand’s Michael Campbell proved the last man standing as his final total of even par edged out Tiger Woods by two after both shot closing 69s. Retief Goosen had led by three overnight but ballooned to a closing 81. His playing partner Jason Gore slumped to an 84 to drop to tied 29th.
One of the classic majors as Payne Stewart won his second U.S. Open after holding off Phil Mickelson by a single shot, the American in the distinctive plus fours draining a 15-footer for par at the 72nd hole to seal victory. The drama was ramped up by Mickelson vowing he could leave the tournament at any time to witness the birth of his first baby. But there was a tragic postscript as Stewart died in a plane crash just four months later.
Contested over just two days, Sam Snead’s American side, which included the great Ben Hogan, were far too strong for Arthur Lacey’s GB visitors. With only 12 points up for grabs in the 9th Ryder Cup, the US took a 3-1 lead in Friday’s foursomes and then cruised to a 9½-2½ victory after taking the Saturday singles 6½-1½.
Then played using a matchplay format, the 1936 PGA at Pinehurst No.2 was won by Denny Shute, who beat Jimmy Thomson 3&2 in the final. The American would go on to defend the title at Pittsburgh Field Club 12 months later.
Par 5, 576 yards: Previously a par 4, it’s still a standout hole requiring precision. The fairway tips from right to left but it’s the approach which really puts a demand on the player and balls are frequently rejected from the sharply tilting green.
Par 3, 191 yards: A long par 3 and a prime example of Pinehurst No.2’s testing green complexes. Sand is placed short left and long right and it takes a fine tee shot to hold the green and not run off into a bunker or down a slope.
Par 4, 473 yards: The 14th is part of a run of ultra-tough par 4s on the back nine. The landing area for the drive is pinched in, making players club down. However, that means a longer second and, once more, it’s just so hard to keep the ball on the putting surface and not see it catch a slope.
Par 4, 451 yards: There are longer par 4s but the closer is uphill and often into the wind. Again, the green will repel anything less than perfect and Payne Stewart’s fist-pump celebration when he beat Mickelson here in the 1999 U.S. Open is immortalized in bronze at the back of it.
Robert Trent Jones:
Americans, unlike the British, are not given to playing in the rain. But at Pinehurst they make what is perhaps their one exception. I dare say that more people play in the rain at Pinehurst that an any other golf course in America. In fact, if you have a wind-breaker and an umbrella, it’s a rather pleasant thing to do, because the sand underfoot makes for relatively dry walking. In the rain, the pine trees seem to glisten, making each hole an individual jewel.
Tommy Armour (when it isn’t raining!):
The man who doesn’t feel emotionally stirred when he golfs at Pinehurst beneath these clear blue skies and with the pine fragrance in his nostrils is one who should be ruled out of golf for life.
The areas off the greens are masterpieces. I don’t think there’s anything like it in North America.
Proving that adage that everything old is new again, Pinehurst No.2 has roared onto the must-play list of any passionate golfer and is now nothing less than the best inland public course in North America.
Pinehurst is one of the premiere places in the world to play golf.
There is an aura about the entire Pinehurst experience that is hard to describe.
Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.
Email: [email protected]More info on Dave Tindall
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