It’s easy to see why Pinehurst bills itself as the “Home of American Golf.” There is the historic Pinehurst Resort, of course, with endless amenities and even more endless golf — 11 courses, to be exact. Helping to cement the reputation is a cornucopia of excellent golf just outside the resort, with another 30 courses within a 20-minute drive.
The glory of Pinehurst golf isn’t just a story about the numbers of golf holes, though. It’s the quality of the courses and the entire golf experience that truly make it special. Six courses in the region are ranked in the top 100 in the country by Golf Digest. Pinehurst No. 2 is believed to have hosted more single golf championships than any course in the country, including three U.S. Opens, with five more scheduled through 2047.
This year, Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines is the site of the 77th U.S. Women’s Open, the seventh USGA championship the club has hosted. Also this year, Pinehurst No. 6 will host the first U.S. Adaptive Open Championship, a new event from the USGA.
Best of all, everyone can play these historic courses, including Pinehurst No. 2, where you will walk in the footsteps of Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, and Jack Nicklaus before taking a selfie with the iconic statue of 1999 U.S. Open winner Payne Stewart making his exuberant fist pump next to the 18th green. And while you’re playing the 3rd hole, don’t forget to pay your respects to Dornoch Cottage, the home of legendary architect Donald Ross, just a pitch shot away from the green.
A different challenge awaits on Pinehurst No. 4, where Gil Hanse designed an all-new course that opened in 2019 where “big” is the operative word. He and design partner Jim Wagner took advantage of the topography to build expansive fairways, as well as giant bunkers, water hazards, and greens. The greens on No. 4 may be more receptive than No. 2’s, but that’s because they’re larger, in keeping with the scale of the course. Forty-footers don’t make three-putts any less likely, though.
If you believe a round of golf should have giggles as well as struggles, be sure to play a round (or two) on the Cradle, the delightful Gil Hanse-designed par-3 course that sits between the massive putting green with its own 18-hole putting course, “Thistle Dhu,” and the Pinehurst clubhouse. The Cradle is perfect for families to enjoy together (kids play free with a paying adult) or serious golfers to hone their wedge play and putting.
But there’s more to do in the neighborhood than chase your little white ball around the pasture. You shouldn’t miss Pinehurst Village, where diners shop, and shoppers dine, in the almost too-picturesque hamlet. And just a few minutes away is Southern Pines and Aberdeen, where you can explore historical sites, visit a whole community of potters, or immerse yourself in the beauty of refined horticultural gardens or natural hiking trails, not to mention shop, eat, and imbibe to your heart’s content. A remarkable number of visitors come for tennis and other sports besides golf, too.
Pinehurst and the surrounding Sandhills area is one of the most user-friendly golf destinations in the country. From LaGuardia, it’s an easy flight to Raleigh, followed by an hour-or-so drive to Pinehurst. Accommodations are available in every price range and style. Enjoy 10 food-and-beverage experiences at the Pinehurst Resort and probably another 50 or 60 in Southern Pines and Aberdeen. A couple not to miss are Elliott’s on Linden for contemporary fine cuisine and the Pinehurst Brewing Company for barbecue, pizza, microbrews, and raucous company.