Ten reasons Pinehurst is a great American golf resort

By August 17, 2010, 5:23 pm


Pinehurst No. 2
Designed by legendary Donald Ross, Pinehurst Resort's No. 2 is a formidable U.S. Open test thanks to severe, crowned greens.

PINEHURST, N.C. – With the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship stopping in Greensboro, N.C., we'll take a deeper look into an old Donald Ross gem a couple hours south. Pinehurst Resort has lured golfers, from the game's legends to everyday amateurs, for more than a century.

Not only has it hosted the U.S. Open, Ryder Cup Matches and PGA Championship, Pinehurst has also served as the setting for numerous firsts in American golf. And with the recent debut of a golf academy and renovations of No. 4 and No. 2, it continues to aim higher.

We've come up with 10 reasons to rank Pinehurst as America's great golf mecca.

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1. Pinehurst is where America's top tournaments are staged
The list of championships to visit Pinehurst is as impressive as you'll find in golf. Pinehurst No. 2, hosted the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005. It returns in 2014, but the golf course's history as host to the United States' most storied events dates many decades.

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

No. 2 has also hosted the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup Matches and Tour Championship, 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. To Scotland by Sandhills
'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

Consider it the convergence of Southern hospitality with Scotland's golf heritage.

Pinehurst's early 20th-century golf success can be linked to its close ties with Scotland. Donald Ross grew up at Royal Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands and trained under Old Tom Morris in St. Andrews before making his way in 1900 to Pinehurst, where he built courses No. 1 through No. 4.

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 the storied grounds. Also, a St. Andrews Room was recently added to the clubhouse.

3. Keeping it in the family
James Barber built the first American mini-golf course at Pinehurst, the 'Liliputian' course in 1916. Since opening its doors, the resort has provided kid – and family-friendly golf for any age – from the practice center to shorter golf courses like No. 3, which provides a good warm up for dad or a worthy test for juniors.

Each course except No. 2 offers a forward set of 'family tees.' Kids under 12 stay, play and eat free when visiting with a paid parent.

Competitive youngsters can enter many events through the U.S. Kids Golf program during the summer. The Parent-Child Tournament runs June 25 to 27, the weekend before the 110th North and South Amateur Championship.

4. The first driving range in America to a new golf academy
Few golf courses are built today without an onsite driving range, but it wasn't always that way. Most 19th-century-era golf clubs in the United Kingdown include little more than a small field to shag balls.

So when Pinehurst unveiled Maniac Hill in 1913, allowing golfers to work on everything from chipping to full shots without hogging the golf course, it marked the first practice facility in North America.

Today, driving ranges and teaching academies are a modern amenity, and Pinehurst's practice grounds feature a full Golf Academy. State-of-the-art facilities completed in 2006 accompany situational course-instruction on Pinehurst's eight courses.

5. Donald Ross: Architect of early American golf
The spread of golf across America in the early 20th century can be traced to one architect more than any other: Donald Ross. When 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.' Ross' expertise fueled much of its ensuing growth.

It's estimated that Ross lended his guidance to more than 400 golf courses, including Oakland Hills, Seminole and Pine Needles nearby Pinehurst. He plotted many others from his cottage off the third green of No. 2.

6. Almanac of Architecture
The resort and its surrounding area display a history of golf design, from a handful of some of the most notable architects in the game. It starts with Ross, who built the first four golf courses before 1920.

His successor, Ellis Maples, added No. 5. Rees Jones built No. 7 in 1986. Tom Fazio added dramatic stylings on a redesign of No. 4 and built No. 6 with uncle George Fazio. Tom Fazio finished with No. 8, commemorating the resort's centennial.

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, top architects who emphasize natural and functional designs, currently oversee a restoration project at No. 2.

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

And on a rainy day, dig deep at the Tufts Archives. They chronicle the history of Pinehurst, with more than 100,000 images and 300 sketches of the Ross' golf-course layouts, among other memorabilia.

7. Take a good walk
Somehow, in the 1980s, it became acceptable – practically encouraged – to build golf courses that were impossible to walk, with long distances and steep hills between holes. Golf carts were king.

As it became more difficult to find exercise in our daily lives, the walkability factor at Pinehurst remains a testament to the eight courses. Even those built and rebuilt in the modern era are classically designed for walkers of any age.

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

8. Before and after golf
Pinehurst opened in 1895 as a health resort, catering to patients recovering from tuberculosis who had no plans to play golf. But when owner James W. Tufts spotted hotel guests whacking white balls around the lawn in 1897, he got the hint and ordered plans to construct a nine-hole course.

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

9. Savoring the Sandhills
The resort covers on 2,000 acres of Carolina Sandhills, a strip of ancient sand dunes that once sat on Atlantic Ocean coastline. So preserving this beautiful environment is paramount.

Pinehurst was the first privately owned property to enter the Safe Harbor Program, which protects the habitats of endangered species. No. 8 is a Certified Audubon Sanctuary golf course. In 2006, the resort received the Presidents Award for Environmental Stewardship, the highest environmental award given by the Golf Course Superintendent's Association of America.

10. No membership needed
Pinehurst ranks as 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's birdie on the second playoff hole (No. 16) beat Nicklaus in the 1974 World Open.

Putt from the spot where Stewart won the 1999 Open at No. 18. Try to avoid taking an 11, as John Daly scored in the final round 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. The Pinehurst Perfecta offers guests the best the resort has to offer. Find affordable, unlimited golf packages and off-season specials, allowing anyone eager to experience America's golfing roots the ability to discover his or her own Pinehurst.

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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?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.