Spring 2018

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Pinehurst: The Cradle 36 SPRING 2018 | NCGA.ORG T he story of golf in the North Carolina Sandhills may begin with the shallow seas and mountain erosion of geolog- ical epochs but, no matter how you look at it, eventually you wind up at the feet of Donald Ross, who was pretty Crustaceous himself. The old Scot made an imprint like Bigfoot in American golf and Pinehurst was his first sighting, the No. 2 course his lifelong obsession. With his work revered, renovated and restored to a fare-thee-well, Pinehurst is as good a place to get to know Ross as any- where, the jewels of a county that seems to have more golf courses than gas stations. Rediscovered as a venue suitable for major championships — as its three men's United States Opens and one women's U.S. Open in less than 20 years attest — the vexing No. 2 Course with its stately pines, unmer- ciful greens and capricious native areas was nudged back in time by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore in preparation for the 2014 Open won by Martin Kaymer. But the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club didn't stop there. Built on the same land that had been the makeshift practice ground the last time the USGA came to visit, Gil Hanse created The Cradle , Pinehurst's natural-look short course. Hanse hung around to undertake a redesign of Pinehurst's No. 4 course, a layout that began with Ross but ultimately bore the handprints of Robert Trent Jones, his son, Rees, and Tom Fazio. The resort's No. 6 is an early Fazio while No. 8 shows off his later stuff. Jack Nicklaus' Pinehurst offering (formerly National GC) entered the fold as Pinehurst No. 9. Midland Road, one of the spokes flying off the wheel of the Pinehurst traffic circle — the landmark feature of all non-GPS directions — leads to two more Ross beauties, Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club and Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club , both owned by the fam- ily of the late Peggy Kirk Bell. Mid Pines underwent its acclaimed renovation in 2012 at the hands of Kyle Franz, a Hanse protégé. In 2016 Franz did additional work on Pine Needles (site of three U.S. Women's Opens), playing off a renovation done by John Fought ten years before. And Ross wasn't done yet. The Southern Pines Country Club — locals refer to it as the Elks — is a sporty, little Ross layout that's just about as much fun to play as a person is legally allowed to have in North Carolina. And Another Thing: The embarrassment of architectural riches doesn't cease. Fazio is part of a group that has purchased two of his own designs at Forest Creek Golf Club . Crenshaw and Coore's Dormie Club is waking up from financial slumber while The Country Club of North Carolina recently spent $4.5 million renovating its Ellis Maples-designed Dogwood Course. Rees Jones' Talamore Resort and Arnold Palmer's Mid South Club are both on Midland Road. And, if for some reason you feel the need to leave town, Tobacco Road , the dune dream of Mike Strantz, is a 20-minute Uber away. n Jim Moriarty was a writer and photographer for Golf Digest and Golf World for 35 years, and author of American Golf Course: America's Most Challenging Public Golf Courses. "More golf courses than gas stations" in the North Carolina Sandhills. By Jim Moriarty Pinehurst Resort

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