Any golf excursion to the Home of American Golf usually includes the obvious choices – Pinehurst No. 2, Pinehurst No. 4, Pine Needles, Mid Pines, and perhaps Mid South and Talamore. For the record, there are nearly 40 golf courses in the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen area, and you really can’t go wrong teeing it up at any of them!
However, if you are planning a trip to play golf here, scheduling a round at Tobacco Road is something you need to seriously consider. The course is located in Lee County, near the town of Sanford, about 30 minutes from Pinehurst off Highway 1 North. The Mike Strantz design is truly unique, one of a kind and unlike any golf course you will ever play. Strantz was a rare breed of designer and a Tom Fazio disciple who was only able to design a few, but highly touted golf courses before passing way too young from cancer at the age of 50 years old. His best courses include Monterey Peninsula Golf Club, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Golf Club in Pawleys Island, SC, Bulls Bay near Charleston, SC and Royal New Kent in Virginia. In 2000, Golfweek named him one of the Top 10 Greatest Golf Course Architects of All-Time.
From the very first shot on Hole #1, Tobacco Road gets your attention. The drive demands accuracy as two massive and heavily grassed mounds at least 60-feet high guard either side of the narrow fairway. The shot is like driving the ball through the eye of a needle. Fortunately, the hole is a par 5, so if your opening shot is not the best, you can still scramble for a par and make your way to the next hole.
If you are playing with others who have not played the course, do yourself a favor and get a yardage book for the course. The course mapping will give you an idea where to hit your drives and subsequent shots because Tobacco Road has several blind shots off the tee and on some approaches. If you play with someone who has played the course, that person will be a valuable asset for course knowledge.
Overall, Tobacco Road is visually stunning, so be sure to take a lot of pictures. Early morning and late afternoon rounds are great because the shadows created by the low angle of the sun really accentuates the natural contours, massive waste bunkers and rolling fairways and greens. Play the course with an open mind as it is atypical of the traditional courses in the Pinehurst area, many designed by Donald Ross. You will either love it, or loathe it, but you will never forget it!
Before you leave, be sure the check out the rustic clubhouse for a drink or lunch and there is always an ample supply of great golf apparel and merchandise for sale. The staff is pleasant and friendly and our area is lucky to have such a great golf experience awaiting for those who wish to take on the challenge of this truly unique design and layout. A must play on any golf trip to the Home of American Golf!