Golf isn’t over for the year — it’s just time to move your game southward. A great first stop right now is Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, the fabled self-proclaimed capital of golf in America, where Pinehurst Number 4, a brand new major-championship-caliber golf course, is now open for play. Throw in fall foliage, moderate temps, and a village full of laid-back amenities, and a trip to Pinehurst is the perfect way to prolong your season.
There are nine courses to choose from at the Resort, but Pinehurst is most famous for Number 2, the site of numerous major championships including the 2014 US Opens (Men’s and Women’s), and the iconic 1999 US Open won by Payne Stewart.
But the new course, Number 4, may well outshine its sister’s reputation as more players experience the Gil Hanse design that replaced the old course on the site. Hanse says the new course is meant to be a companion to Number Two and it is. Hanse is most often cited as the architect of the Olympic course in Rio, but locally is responsible for updating some of Westchester’s most iconic courses including Winged Foot, Quaker Ridge, Sleepy Hollow, and Fenway.
In Pinehurst, Hanse built a course with routing, exposed sand, and native grasses similar to Number 2 (as restored by Coore and Crenshaw), but made everything bigger to fit the new layout’s topography. Fairways are expansive, but so are the bunkers, water hazards, and greens. While Number 2’s small turtle-back greens punish a weak short game, Number 4’s treacherous bunkering penalizes poor tee shots and approaches. The greens on Number Four may be more receptive than Number Two’s, but that’s mainly because they’re larger in keeping with the scale of the course. That doesn’t make three-putts any less likely, though, since forty-footers are all-too common and the contouring is stronger, too.
Also new at Pinehurst (and almost worth a trip in itself) is the Pinehurst Brewing Company, a microbrewery that occupies what was once a steam plant. Its diverse lunch and dinner menu with barbecue not to be ignored will be a highlight of your fall visit.