Pine Needles: Another Donald Ross Gem

Only a 10-minute drive from the famed Pinehurst Resort, Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, which hosted the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open won by Cristie Kerr, is another Donald Ross masterpiece in the Sandhills of North Carolina.

Although it is located at a resort, the course is open to the public.

The course was renovated in 2005 under the direction of Arizona-based designer John Fought to make it more closely resemble the layout that opened in 1928. Tee boxes were lengthened, greens and bunkers were restored to their original sizes and positions, and native turf grasses were re-established.

Pine Needles, which plays to a par of 71, was lengthened by about 300 yards to a total of 7,015 yards.

You can take a lesson from famed instructor Peggy Kirk Bell, whose family has been a presence at the resort for three generations. Bell now owns the resort.

Also on the teaching staff is Donna Andrews, winner of six events on the LPGA Tour, including the 1994 Nabisco Dinah Shore, and Pat McGowan, who was Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour in 1968.

Michael Campbell of New Zealand set up camp at Pine Needles Lodge the week before the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst with his Florida-based instructor Jonathan Yarwood, who refined Campbell’s chipping and putting strokes for the inverted saucer greens at Pinehurst.

After Campbell’s remarkable two-stroke victory over Tiger Woods at Pinehurst on the No. 2 course, perhaps Ross’ most famous layout, the winner returned to celebrate on Sunday night at the “In the Rough” Lounge at Pine Needles.

Pine Needles boasts an exceptional set of par 3s, three of them from elevated tees, so choosing the correct club is a must. The 145-yard third, the signature hole and shortest on the course, is the most picturesque, requiring a tee shot over a lake and wetlands area to a green that slopes dramatically from back to front.

The sixth hole, a 459-yard par 4, might be the best on the course. You hit your tee shot up to the fairway, and long hitters can catch the downslope atop the knoll to get an extra 30 yards of roll. The approach plays downhill to the green.

As part of the 2005 renovation, the 14th and 15th holes, perhaps the best on the back nine, were reverted to their original shot values. No. 14 is a daunting 454-yard par 4, followed by the 530-yard, par-5 15th.

Pine Needles’ sister property next door, the Mid Pines Inn, boasts another Ross classic, Mid Pines Golf Club. Of course, a few miles down the road is Pinehurst Resort and Club, with eight courses, including the prized No. 2 course.

Also in the neighborhood are the Mid South Club in Southern Pines, designed by Arnold Palmer; Legacy Golf Club in Aberdeen, designed by Jack Nicklaus II and host of the 2000 Women’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship; National Golf Club in Pinehurst, designed by Jack Nicklaus; and Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford, an innovative course designed by Mike Strantz.

Others worth a look are the Hyland Golf Club, Talamore Golf Club, Pinewild Country Club and Little River Golf & Resort.

The Carolina Hotel is a National Historical Landmark in the center of Pinehurst that has been offering exquisite service to go with Southern charm since 1901.

Four U.S. presidents have stayed at the Holly Inn in Pinehurst, which opened its doors in 1895.

The Manor Inn has been one of Arnold Palmer’s favorite hangouts since he visited Pinehurst with his father as a boy.

In addition to Pine Needles Lodge and the Mid Pines Inn, other quality accommodations may be found at the Blacksmith Inn in Carthage, Hyland Hills Resort in Southern Pines and the Old Buggy Inn in Carthage.



Story courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre

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