Pinehurst No. 3 Review
Pinehurst No. 3
Teachers’ Comments: A lot of fun. Possibly my second favorite course I played at Pinehurst.
Pinehurst No. 3 is the Spud Webb of Pinehurst golf.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Spud Webb was a 5’6″ pro basketball player who won the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest in 1986. Spending his career mostly with the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings, Webb amassed 8, 072 points, 1, 742 rebounds and 4, 343 assists in a thirteen-year pro career.
Like Webb, Pinehurst No. 3 is short but exciting.
From the tips Pinehurst No. 3 is just 5, 115 yards, playing to a 64.9/112. It would be a mistake, however, to think of this course as a standard “executive” layout. Like Spud Webb running the court, play from tee to green can be exciting. The course is routed up and down a series of small hills, such that nearly every one has interesting elevation changes. It’s actually a bit of a roller coaster ride.
Greens complexes on Pinehurst No. 3 can be an in-your-face slam dunk. If you allow yourself to be lulled into complacency by the shortish yardages on the scorecard, Pinehurst No. 3 will get by you and run up the score. The greens are classic Donald Ross — small, and with crowns that reject casual shots. The bunkers are a menace.
Pinehurst No. 3 is a Ross design built in 1910. Changes have been made over the years, but the signature of the master is very much evident. Even better: with a restoration in 2017, Pinehurst No. 3 has the same natural, craggy look of Pinehurst No. 2 and Pinehurst No. 4.
I played No. 3 with two Pinehurst employees, while racing a line of incoming thunderstorms. They were really nice guys who helped line me up on several blind shots on the course.
The thunderstorm caught up with us as we were putting out on 18.
Ahead of us were two groups from — of all places — Michigan. I watched as they struggled mightily with the greens. It did not seem to occur to them that hitting a wedge off a tight lie might not be nearly as smart a shot as just putting the ball up the slope of the raised green, or using a hybrid to make a longer run.
Pinehurst No. 3’s routing offers quite a bit of variety, with five doglegs to the right, and four to the left. Waste areas keep you on your toes. Elevation changes are present on nearly every hole. The threat of water, however, is only present on the fourth hole, a par three over a pond.
Yardages, ratings and slope for Pinehurst No. 3 are below
|White||5, 115||M: 64.9|
|Green||4, 823||M: 63.7|
|Red||4, 347||M: 62.0|
|Yellow||3, 642||M: 59.9|
My favorite hole at Pinehurst No. 3 was the par 5 thirteenth. It’s a dogleg left that starts on an elevated tee, falls, then rises again to an elevated green. The fairway is divided by a large waste area.
It’s a lot of fun, but there’s strategy here that isn’t obvious from the tee (unless you are clicking away on your GPS unit or are playing with people familiar with the course — both of which I was doing). Assuming a good tee shot, the second presents a conundrum: challenge the big fairway waste area or lay up for a longer shot into the green.
On the front side, my favorite hole was the par four third. A nearly 90 degree dogleg right, the thirteenth begins with a tee shot uphill to a ridge. The bunker on the face of the ridge looks intimidating, but is more psychological than physical. Even this short hitter was able to clear it.
Once on the ridge, the fairway plays straight for a spell, then dips suddenly down before rising up again to the green. The third’s green is one of those Donald Ross Classics, where the ball will do its best to roll off and down the slopes to a collection area — or in the case of a ball on the right, into a bunker.
Conditions on the day I played were much better than I would have hoped for the last week of March. The greens were in excellent shape and although the fairways were a patchwork of colors, they were absolutely playable. During my entire trip to Pinehurst I never once felt as though I was at a disadvantage for playing in March instead of June.
I think any trip to Pinehurst should include a visit to No. 3. In many ways, it is the most fun of the courses I played during my week. My recommendation is to play following a round on one of the “big boys”: No. 2 or No. 4. Play one of the marquee courses, have lunch at The Deuce and then take in a matinee at Pinehurst No. 3. Or warm up on No. 3 in the morning and take on one of its bigger siblings in the afternoon.
A photo tour of Pinehurst No. 3 follows.