Pinehurst No. 2 Review

Pinehurst No. 2 Review Hole 2
The second at Pinehurst No. 2 is a 439 yard par 4 at near first light.

Pinehurst No. 2 Review

Pinehurst No. 2
Grade: A+
Legendary. Forgiving off the tee; around the greens, the toughest course I’ve played.

I do not know if it is possible to add anything of meaning to the vast library of literature surrounding Pinehurst No. 2. Its resume makes it one of the most legendary and important courses in the United States.

The short version: The 114 year-old course is Donald Ross’ masterwork; a true championship test of golf; a must-play for dedicated golfers. The USGA is establishing a second home at Pinehurst and will play the 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047 US Opens there. No. 2 has hosted more golf championships than any course in America.

Pinehurst No. 2 Review Hole 9
The ninth at PInehurst No. 2 in high summer.

All those highlights aside, the most important thing is that this bogey golfer had a lot of fun playing Pinehurst No. 2.

From tee to green, Pinehurst No. 2 is well within the skills of a bogey golfer (assuming that said golfer is playing from the correct tees). Fairways are wide; the fairway/waste areas are penalizing yet playable; and there is no rough. Water is present only one hole and is unlikely to present any difficulties. All you’ll need is single sleeve of balls.

Around the greens is another story. The bunker complexes and crowned greens are every bit as perplexing as their reputation suggests.

Pinehurst No. 2 has an interesting rhythm. From the tee, generous fairways make each hole look inviting. As the clubs get shorter, however, pressure ramps up. Putting can be a white-knuckle experience that breaks the spirit.

On the next tee, though, hope begins anew as another inviting fairway says, “you got this.”

Pinehurst No. 2 Review Thirteenth hole
The thirteenth hole on Pinehurst No. 2

Pinehurst No. 2 was built in 1907 and Donald Ross continued to tinker with it up until his death in 1948. Ross lived in a house just off the third hole. Then, as with many courses of a certain age, No. 2 underwent a gradual, and likely unintentional transformation. What viewers saw in the 1995 and 2005 US Open broadcasts was a sea of green with the deep rough favored by the USGA. It was not, however, what Ross intended.

In 2009, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were employed to restore Pinehurst No. 2 to Ross’s original vision. After extensive research in the Pinehurst’s Tufts Archives, Coore and Crenshaw made plans to restore the course to the way it was when it hosted the 1936 PGA Championship.

The result was shown to the world in 2014 when Pinehurst No. 2 hosted both US Opens in a two-week span.

Pinehurst No. 2 Review twelfth hole
Pinehurst No. 2’s twelfth is a 419 yard par 4.

The result is what you see in the photographs on this page: a course that looks more in keeping with the natural landscapes of North Carolina’s sand hills. Large sandy waste areas with patches of native grasses line the edges and cross the fairways. Natural areas, rather than manicured turf, fill the spaces between holes. It is all perfectly imperfect.

And no rough. Not a single patch. There are just three surfaces: greens, fairways and sand.

Other modifications made by Coore and Crenshaw to Pinehurst No. 2 were widening the fairways by as much as 50%, increasing the championship length by 300 yards, and restoring bunkers based on aerial images of the course in the 1940s.

Interestingly, a return to the old brought a more modern sensibility: the new design reduced water usage by 73%.

Below are the current tees, yardages, ratings and slopes for Pinehurst No. 2

US Open7, 58876.5138
Blue6, 96173.7133
Ross6, 62771.9130
White6, 30770.7126
Green5, 771M: 63.0
W: 73.3
M: 123
W: 129
Red5302M: 65.5
W: 70.3
M: 117
W: 127
Yardages, Rating and Slope for Pinehurst No. 2 Tees
Pinehurst No. 2 Review fifth hole
The fifth at Pinehurst No. 2 is a 508 yard par five

My favorite hole on the front nine at Pinehurst No. 2 was one I want another crack at: the par 5 fifth. It plays at 576 yards for the US Open tees, and 462 from the middle tees.

The tee shot seems tight, but quickly opens to a wide fairway that slopes downhill right to left. The right side consists of the tree lined back yards of cottages. The left is a vast, sandy waste area, broken by patches of field grasses. It is best to avoid this area.

Unfortunately, that sandy wasteland is exactly where the ball wants to go. Three of the four in my group (including myself) ended up in those wastes before the hole was finished.

Pinehurst No. 2 Review fifth hole
A view from the fairway on Pinehust No. 2’s fifth

The key is to stay to the right side the entire length of the hole. That includes making an approach shot to the right side of the green. Next time, I’ll know.

Pinehurst No. 2 Review eighteenth hole
Eighteen at Pinehurst No. 2 is a 415 yard par 4.

On the back nine, my favorite hole was the eighteenth. It’s an uphill shot from the tee over a sandy waste. A steep faced bunker guards the line off the tee to the right, and sandy wastes line both sides of the fairway.

Pinehurst No. 2 Review eighteenth hole
A view from the eighteenth fairway on Pinehurst No. 2

The eighteenth green is in a bit of a hook to the right from the fairway. The open approach is from the left. An approach from the right will need to clear a waste area and bunker

I of course didn’t quite clear the right bunker, had to chop my way up and over, then saw my approach kick off the back right side of the green. Chip up. One putt. Bogey on the last hole of the day.

I want another shot at the eighteenth as well.

I played Pinehurst No. 2 on a chilly April 1st. I was comfortable in my shorts, golf shirt and vest. My playing partners were wearing their rain gear and shivering. There are advantages to being acclimated to midwestern weather.

As it was early spring, the course was not the deep verdant green television’s Augusta National fantasies have taught us to expect from premier courses. Serious golfers, however, embrace the seasons. In fact, the visual contrasts between brown and green were quite beautiful.

Conditions were very good. I never had a lie where I though “if only this grass were green, I would be playing better.” The greens were smooth and fast.

That shouldn’t be surprising. Pinehurst has billed itself as the winter golf capitol since the early 1900s. The courses were quite busy the week I visited, and I doubt anyone was disappointed by the conditions.

The Pinehurst No. 2 Review was first published on June 16, 2021 from notes and photos taken on a round played April 1, 2021. For all of GolfBlogger’s North Carolina Golf Course Reviews follow the link.

A photo tour of Pinehurst No. 2 follows.

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