With the U.S. Open at the storied (and private) Country Club at Brookline this week, golfers watching (or streaming) might be reminded of just how many major championship venues they can’t play. This will also be the case next year, in prime time, when the tournament moves to the exclusive Los Angeles Country Club.

But come 2024, the USGA’s crown jewel shifts back to its anchor site in the North Carolina Sandhills where the golfing public has always been welcome. And under a historic partnership between Pinehurst Resort and the USGA, famed Pinehurst No. 2 will host the U.S. Open five times over the next 25 years. This includes once again staging back-to-back Men’s and Women’s Opens in 2029.

For golfers wanting to experience everything the resort offers, 2022 and 2023 are the perfect times to visit. The Cradle of American Golf has undergone a renaissance over the past decade. From the restoration of No. 2, the opening of The Cradle, the reimagination of No. 4 and the USGA’s Golf House Pinehurst, the past decade has been a whirlwind of activity that has set the golf world ablaze.

Here are a few Pro Golf Weekly insider tips for planning and executing the ultimate golf trip with relative ease.

Arrival Day Round

Pinehurst Resort No.1
Designed by Donald Ross in 1901, the Pinehurst No.1 course is where it all started. (Photo by: Pinehurst)

You can make a case for No. 5, an underrated Ellis Maples design that gently pitches and rolls through a residential area across Beulah Hill Road from the main golf campus. But the logical point to begin the epic journey through Pinehurst Resort is the No. 1 Course, completed by Donald Ross in 1901.

The expansive fairway of the par-4 opening hole is an arms-wide-open welcome to the Cradle of American Golf. The dead-straight, par-4 second follows suit, and every hole between it and the par-5 18th hole encourages golfers to play their absolute best. As a bonus, the 18th tee box with the clubhouse in the background is the perfect buddies’ trip or family photo opp.


Resort Within a Resort

The No.8 course was designed by Tom Fazio in 1995 to celebrate Pinehurst’s centennial. (Photo by: Pinehurst)

No. 8 is situated third among the resort’s courses in the national and in-state rankings. But put this Tom Fazio masterpiece in just about any other state and it’s the best track around. Its green complexes, green speeds and pin positions rival any tournament-caliber venue. Moreover, No. 8 is undergoing an agronomic enhancement over the summer of 2022 and will emerge firmer, faster and with new TifEagle Bermudagrass greens.

The “Centennial” course isn’t cut from the same Sandhills aesthetic cloth as No. 2 and No. 4, and its brilliance manifests in its differentiation from its siblings. There are several forced-carry tee shots and aerial approaches into greens brought about by the layout’s rolling hills and wetlands. An early morning or late afternoon round at No. 8 is a transcendental experience. The course is sequestered from the main resort area, and Fazio’s routing of non-parallel holes makes for a zen-like four hours among the pines.


Play it Again

Pinehurst Resort No.1
The No.7 course at the Pinehurst Resort was designed in 1986 by Rees Jones. (Photo by: Pinehurst)

The obvious answer is No. 4. In the 70s, it was a Robert Trent Jones Sr. course; in the 80s a Rees Jones course and from 1999 to 2017, No. 4 was a highly-ranked Fazio design. The golf course architecture musical chairs ended in 2018 when Gil Hanse completely reimagined and redesigned No. 4 as a “companion” course to No. 2. Hanse’s craftsmanship is so on point that 19th hole debates rage as to whether it or No. 2 is the superior circuit.

The not-so-obvious answer, conversely? How about No. 7. Original designer Rees Jones restyled this off-campus course into a Herculean test of golf in 2002. No. 7 is 7,216-yards of pure muscle fiber routed through 25 acres of wetlands, three acres of waste areas and 75 bunkers. Its 520-yard par-5 opening hole, with a double-bending fairway, sets the stage immediately for “hard par, easy bogey” – a timeless hallmark of Jones family design. Tee shots are generally downhill, approach shots are usually uphill, and Jones’ routing takes on a steady rhythm that makes No. 7 a joy to play.


Cradle Calling

The Cradle Pinehurst
The Cradle is a nine-hole short course designed by Gil Hanse. (Photo by: Pinehurst)

If golf was a religion (and for many it comes close), then The Cradle would be its church. On any given day, and especially in the mid to late afternoon, Hanse’s 10-acre short course is humming with golf groups from all over the U.S. and worldwide with their shoes off and transfusions in hand.

Music from hidden speakers fills the air, as do tee shots from both grass and mat tees. The experience is collective and redemptive, and by the time golfers walk off the ninth green, they’ve made at least 100 new friends. And when church lets out, the people can simply adjourn to the 75,000-square-foot playground that is the Thistle Dhu putting course.


Off-Course

Drum & Quill Pinehurst
Drum & Quill is a casual American tavern with a storied history that includes Arnold Palmer and golf’s modern grand slam. (Photo credit: Drum & Quill)

The Drum & Quill in the Village of Pinehurst is the type of joint where if the shades were pulled down tight, you’d lose all sense of space and time. The iconic pub and eatery owned by former golf marketer and writer Kevin Drum is as bustling and boisterous at lunch as it is come nightfall. Well, maybe not quite. Pull up a barstool, order fish and chips, have the barkeep pull your favorite pint, and forget about what ails you. You won’t regret it.

Meanwhile, back at Pinehurst, the Deuce serves this role and serves it well. This authentic tavern is located just behind the 18th green on No. 2. Outdoor seating allows guests to grab a beer and a bite and watch all the action coming in. An ample selection of craft brews are on tap, and everything on the gastropub-focused menu is perfectly executed.


What’s on Tap

Pinehurst Brewing Company
Built on the site of the Village’s old steam plant, Pinehurst Brewing Company opened in 2018 to rave reviews. (Credit: Pinehurst Brewing Company IG)

When the Pinehurst Brewing Company opened in the old Village steam plant in 2018, the vision called for a neighborhood gathering place equal parts golf buddy hang and family dining destination. Mission accomplished on that front and throw in a nice mix of local patrons and out-of-town visitors to top it all off.

The “PBC’s” BBQ is front and center, highlighted by smoked baby back ribs, pork shoulder, brisket and homemade sausages. But hand-tossed, wood-fired pizzas are a sneaky second favorite and pair just as well with the brewery’s selection of handcrafted ales and lagers. The Pivot IPA has become the stuff of legend, and as soon as it hits the taps and coolers (in cans), the supply can be wiped out in a matter of days.


Extended Stays

Carolina Hotel Pinehurst
The Carolina Hotel West Lawn’s expansive area features a large heated pool, kiddie pool, misting pool, fireplace and outdoor whirlpool. (Photo by: Pinehurst Resort)

For those who want to play as many Pinehurst Resort courses as possible (or all of them) even a 36-hole-a-day pace yields a five-day, five-night vacation that ventures into “extended stay” territory. The Carolina Villas rise to the occasion to fill this niche perfectly. Located adjacent to the Carolina Hotel, they feature four privately keyed guest rooms with their own bathrooms.

The four bedrooms spill out into a spacious living room with a wet bar, dining area, and either a balcony or patio for chilling outdoors. The bed configuration is two queens, with each unit easily accommodating eight golfers or two families. All the modern accouterments are included, such as Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and Keurig coffee makers. The Carolina Hotel is also emerging from a major interior renovation that includes updated hallways, rooms, dining and more.

On the web: Pinehurst Resort, Drum & Quill, Pinehurst Brewing Company

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