After No. 2 and 4 in the Pinehurst resort pecking order, a lot of folks would point you to No. 8. But we’ll encourage you to give No. 3 ($95-$125) a chance. It was Ross’s favorite course at Pinehurst for a couple of decades and it still possesses a slew of the interesting features that he loved. It’s a par-68 that tips out at 5,155 yards, but scoring here is tougher than the yardage suggests. Pair No. 3 with a bonus loop at the par-3 9-hole Cradle ($50), and you’ve got yourself an A-plus day.
Within an easy radius of Pinehurst Resort, you’ll find plenty more of Ross, the finest being Mid Pines ($85-$215) and Pine Needles ($85-$235), sibling courses under the same ownership. Ross built them both in the 1920s, and in 2013 and 2017, respectively, Kyle Franz restored them. Design-wise, the two courses are kindred spirits, but Pine Needles is the longer, tougher routing. Mid Pines is no pushover either, but it’s more receptive to a wider range of skills, and its rough-hewn look, with sandy wastes and long eyelashes around its bunkers, make it a visual delight as well as a great strategic test.
We know there’s only so much daylight, but if you want to see Ross from yet another angle, check out Southern Pines Golf Club ($49-$89), a short skip away. The course opened in 1906 and what it lacks in modern-era length (it’s just over 6,200 yards) it more than makes up for in intrigue. It’s well worth a visit and seems destined to be even more of a draw in the future, as it was just purchased by an investment group led by the owner of Mid Pines and Pine Needles. Given the connection, it’s not hard to imagine another Kyle Franz-style restoration of a great Ross course in the years ahead.
Last but nowhere near least, you can’t leave the region without taking a crack at Tobacco Road ($70-$189), a 1998 design by the late, great Mike Strantz. Ask enough people, and you’ll find some who tell will you that the course is “goofy” and “tricked up.” Do yourself a favor and cut those people out of your life. Etched through a sand quarry, this is a wildly creative, rollicking design, built for wildly creative, rollicking play. It’s filled with quirks and compelling angles and it allows for such a varied arsenal of shots that we wager that you’re going to want to loop it twice.
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