With the eyes of the golf world aimed squarely in its direction, The Home of American Golf stands more than ready to shine this spring.
Boasting nearly 40 golf courses within a 15-mile radius, North Carolina’s Sandhills region — Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen and other quaint, surrounding communities — consistently delivers some of the country’s finest golf, as well as world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and more.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) is in the process of transforming the Sandhills into a second operations headquarters. By late 2023, the USGA’s “Golf House Pinehurst” will include a new equipment-testing facility, innovation hub, a museum and visitor center. The $25-million investment includes the construction of a pair of buildings that will house 50 full-time USGA staff members near the clubhouse on the historic Pinehurst Resort property.
When planning your spring 2021 golf trip to the Pinehurst area, some important local knowledge might make your trip even more memorable.
The 2024 U.S. Open Championship on Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s No. 2 Course will be followed by national championships at Pinehurst in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047. Next year, another of Donald Ross’s most praiseworthy creations, nearby Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, will play host to its fourth U.S. Women’s Open Championship.
Ross restoration expert Kyle Franz impeccably renovated both Pine Needles and its sister course, another Ross gem Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Now, the resort offers a new way to navigate the links. Finn Scooters are available at Pine Needles or Mid Pines, offering an unforgettable experience while also speeding up pace of play.
If you can’t play Pinehurst No. 2, Southern Pines Golf Club may well represent the next best example of what Ross had in mind. Nine holes opened in 1906, and by 1912 the course had been expanded to 18 holes. Now under management by the company that owns and operates the Pine Needles and Mid Pines resorts nearby, Southern Pines is in the midst of an 18-month course improvement plan that is expected to include design tweaks from Franz.
Golf Advisor ranked Talamore Golf Resort in Southern Pines as the No. 1 golf course in North Carolina and No. 9 in the U.S. in its latest ratings. “I cannot wait to go back and play this course again,” wrote one rater. “Amazing resort quality conditions at a fair price.” Talamore and nearby Mid South Club are sister properties under the Talamore Golf Resort umbrella of clubs.
Arnold Palmer’s work at Mid South Golf Club provides one of the region’s top modern golf experiences. The course wraps around five lakes over a relatively undulating piece of ground. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: There is outstanding golf to be found in every corner of the region. Try a few of the area’s lesser-known but still wonderful courses such as Beacon Ridge Golf & Country Club and Seven Lakes Golf Club.
Planning to play Tobacco Road Golf Club in nearby Sanford? The widely heralded but equally challenging Mike Strantz design will certainly test your skills. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: The safe strategy for teeing off on hole No. 1 — an intimidating 558-yard par-5 bordered by nasty mounds of rough — is to lay up 165 yards or so. Make the green in three and you still have a chance to start your round with a two-putt for par.
Jack Nicklaus has long commented that Pinehurst No. 2 is his favorite golf course from a design standpoint. For the Golden Bear’s design work on Pinehurst No. 9, he constructed his own meticulously designed masterpiece amidst the longleaf pines. His son, Jack, Jr., designed the impeccable Legacy Golf Links located near Aberdeen. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Successfully navigate the first five holes at No. 9 and above-average players have a decent shot at a gratifying score. It’s the large green complexes that make this course so challenging.
Two wonderful contrasts in design styles can be found locally within the Maples family design tree. Ellis Maples designed 36 holes of traditional golf at the Country Club of Whispering Pines. His son, Dan, built Longleaf Golf & Family Club on the site of one of the Village of Pinehurst’s former horse training estates. Longleaf is also home to the U.S. Kids Golf Academy and the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Many of the original features — the white fences, rail post and hedgerows — have been carefully retained as a tribute to the original site. Their par 3 “Bottlebrush” Course features six fun holes you can play all day for $8.00.
Finally, there are several great private courses around the Sandhills that are worth a little extra effort, such as The Country Club of North Carolina, Forest Creek Golf Club and the area’s newest, The Dormie Club. In July, The Country Club of North Carolina will play host to another USGA championship event, the U.S. Junior Amateur.
Plan your spring trip now to make a pilgrimage to the “Home of American Golf.” www.HomeofGolf.com/packages-deals