10 reasons Pinehurst is a great American golf resort

By Brandon TuckerFebruary 15, 2010, 4:23 pm
carolina hotel pinehurst

1. The Great American Stage  

The list of championships hosted at Pinehurst is as impressive as there is in golf. Pinehurst No. 2 hosted the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005, and will again in 2014, but its history as host to the United States' most storied events goes back much further.  

The North and South Amateur Championship has been at Pinehurst every year since 1901 and has crowned Francis Ouimet, Frank Stranahan, Jack Nicklaus, Hal Sutton and Davis Love III as champions. Women's winners include Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Alice Dye and Donna Andrews.  

Other events like the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup and Tour Championship have been staged at No. 2, and 2014 marks the first time the USGA will host both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open at the same course in consecutive weeks.

2. Links to Scotland
Pinehurst's early 20th-century success with golf is attributed to its close link to Scotland. Donald Ross grew up at Royal Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands and trained under Tom Morris in St. Andrews before making his way to Pinehurst in 1900 and building Nos. 1 through 4 over the next four decades.  

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Payne Stewart makes par at 18 to win the 1999 U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
In 2005, sand from the Road Hole bunker at St. Andrews was placed into the greenside bunker at No. 2’s 18th hole to commemorate the link between both storied grounds, and a St. Andrews Room was also recently added to the clubhouse.  

Consider it the meeting of Southern hospitality with the golf heritage of Scotland. 

“To me there’s something about Pinehurst that tops even the position which it naturally occupies as the St. Andrews of American golf. And that is the people you find there, and play golf with, and exchange reminiscences with – the hosts of Pinehurst, which always make you feel happily at home,” Bobby Jones once said. 

3. The Sandhills are alive...
Pinehurst Resort is set on 2,000 acres of beautiful Carolina Sandhills, a strip of ancient sand dunes and evidence of where the ocean coast used to be, so preserving this unique environment is paramount.  

The resort was the first privately-owned property to enter the Safe Harbor Program, which protects the habitats of endangered species, and No. 8 is a Certified Audubon Sanctuary course.  

In 2006, the resort was also presented with the Presidents Award for Environmental Stewardship, the highest environmental award given by the Golf Course Superintendent's Association of America.  

4. A Family Affair  
In 1916, James Barber built the first mini-golf course in America at Pinehurst, the 'Liliputian” course. The resort has carried the spirit of kid and family-friendly golf for any age, from the practice center to shorter golf courses like No. 3, which provides both a good warm up for dad or a worthy test for juniors.  

Each course (except No. 2) offers a forward set of 'family tees' and kids under 12 stay, play and eat free when they come with a paid parent.  

Competitive youngsters can enter one of several U.S. Kids Golf events throughout the summer or enter the 63rd Donald Ross Junior Championship in December. And families can enter the Parent-Child Tournament, June 25-27, the weekend before the 110th North and South Amateur Championship.  

5. Architect of American golf  
The spread of golf across America in the early 20th century can be traced to one architect more than anyone else: Donald Ross. The same year Ross came to Pinehurst in 1900, the Pinehurst Outlook reported that “golf is rolling over the country like a great tidal wave and gaining power as it advances,' and much of its ensuing growth was fueled by Ross' expertise.

Ross is estimated to have had a hand in more than 400 golf courses, including Oakland Hills, Seminole and nearby Pine Needles, while many others he plotted out from his cottage off the third green of No. 2.  

6. Almanac of Architecture  
More than a century of golf design is on display at the resort and surrounding area, from a handful of some of the most notable architects in the game. It starts with Ross, who built Nos. 1 through 4 all before 1920.  

His successor, Ellis Maples added No. 5, Rees Jones built No. 7 in 1986, and Tom Fazio added dramatic stylings on No. 4 (redesigned), No. 6 (with his uncle George Fazio) and lastly No. 8, commemorating the resort's Centennial.  

Currently, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, one of the best design firms currently thanks to their natural, functional designs, are overseeing a restoration project at No. 2.  

Head outside the resort and you'll notice just about every golf course designer has coveted the Sandhills, including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Mike Strantz and many of others.  

And on a rainy day, you can dig deeper at the Tufts Archives, chronicling the history of Pinehurst from its origins with over 100,000 images and 300 sketches of Donald Ross' course layouts among other memorabilia.  

7. A Good Walk  
Somehow in the 1980s, it became acceptable – practically encouraged – to build golf courses impossible to walk, with long distances between holes and steep hills in between. Golf carts had become king.  

As it becomes harder to find exercise in our daily lives, the walkability factor at Pinehurst is a testament to the eight courses, even those built and rebuilt in the modern era, classically-designed for walkers of any age.

The resort's caddie program also makes it easy to play the way the game was intended in the first place, and some of the caddies have spent most of their lives telling stories and reading greens here.

8. Before, after golf  
When Pinehurst opened in 1895 it was intended to be a health resort, catering to patients recovering from tuberculosis who had no plans of playing golf. It wasn't until guests of the hotel were spotted whacking white balls around the lawn in 1897 that owner James W. Tufts got the hint and ordered plans for a 9-hole course.

Off-course activities have always been abundant at Pinehurst, from tennis, to swimming, to croquet, down to the spa that was added in 2002. Professional sharpshooter Annie Oakley joined the Pinehurst staff in 1916 to offer shooting lessons, and today you can still shoot sporting clays 35 minutes from the resort amid 65 acres of woodlands.  

9. Practice Makes Perfect  
Driving ranges weren't always a given at golf clubs like they are today. Visit a 19th-century Scottish club and chances are there's no range on site. If there is, it was probably added recently.

So when 'Maniac Hill' was created at Pinehurst in 1913 to allow golfers to work on everything from chipping to full shots without hogging the golf course, it became the first practice facility in North America.  

Today, driving ranges and teaching academies have become modern science, and Pinehurst's practice grounds have since upgraded into a full Golf Academy, now featuring state-of-the-art facilities completed in 2006 to go with its situational course instruction on Pinehurst’s eight courses.  

10. Where Everyone is Welcome  
Pinehurst is one of America's most accessible major championship venues, where you can attempt the same shots as recent U.S. Open winners Payne Stewart and Michael Campbell, where Ben Hogan won his first professional event in 1940 and where Johnny Miller won on the second playoff hole (No. 16) with a birdie over Jack Nicklaus in the 1974 World Open.  

Hit a putt from where Stewart won the ‘99 Open at 18, try and avoid any 11s on No. 2, unlike John Daly's final round score on the eighth hole – or attempt to drive the 368-yard 13th hole like 2008 U.S. Amateur Champion Danny Lee.  

But you don't have to play No. 2 to experience Pinehurst. Stay-and-play packages are available for every budget, from the 'Pinehurst Perfecta” package that offers guests the best the resort has to offer, to affordable unlimited golf and off-season specials, making it possible for any golfer eager to experience America's meeting with golf to discover their own Pinehurst.
Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''