My annual visit to Pinehurst kicked off with what has become a typical dramatic flare. In previous years we’ve had late and missed flights as well as a faulty condo key that forced us to drive all over Pinehurst at midnight trying to find a hotel room. This year I somehow managed to lock the keys in my car in the parking lot of UNC’s Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill. Luckily, thanks to AAA that was only a very brief inconvenience. AAA’s locksmith showed up in less than 20 minutes after I called and had my car open in a matter of minutes. I was pretty impressed. It makes me wonder what is in store for next year’s visit to Pinehurst.
As usual our trip was a short one with lots of golf on the itinerary. We would be there for two 36 hole days with our first day being at The Country Club of Whispering Pines which is located right in the town of Whispering Pines. The club was founded in 1959 and features two 18 hole golf courses both designed by Ellis Maples who began his golf architecture career under the tutelage of the great Donald Ross. The first 18 holes opened for play in 1962 and 9 additional holes added in 1965. The club operated as a 27 hole facility for about 4 years until the final 9 holes were added in 1969. The Country Club of Whispering Pines now has a full 36 holes which are referred to as the River Course and the Pines Course. For those interested in a detailed explanation of exactly which holes were added when, the club has a detailed history on their website. Today the Country Club of Whispering Pines is semi-private and all that is required to book a tee time on either course is a phone call to the pro shop.
We showed up bright and early for our 8:05am tee time only to find out that there was a frost delay. We killed time for a little while and eventually got the green light to start, so away we went as the first group off on the River Course. Below are a few photos from the round. Keep in mind that these photos were taken in March while the fairways were still overseeded with winter rye and the bermuda rough was completely dormant and brown. Despite the non-traditional look the courses playing conditions were pretty solid considering the time of year.
The round starts out with a very short par 4 that plays only 462 yards from the 6,521 yard back tees. A nice chance to make a birdie or better is always a good way to start out a round. The photo below was taken from about 200 yards out.
I liked the 2nd hole as well because of the sharp dogleg right. I love holes that give players an opportunity to shape their ball in order to have an ideal position in the fairway. I definitely don’t always pull it off, but its fun trying.
The 4th hole was probably my favorite on the course. Here we have a 416 yard par 4 that requires a well executed tee shot to find the fairway. Players who can hit a draw will end up in much better shape than those who are hitting a cut. The photo below was taken from the tee box . . . a little tree trimming probably wouldn’t hurt, but it’s not as narrow as it looks.
Here is a look at the 4th green from the back left side of the hole. The green falls pretty severely from left to right. This is a good hole location for a miss on the left side of the green.
The back nine holes on the River Course feature a lot more water than the holes on the front nine. The photo below was taken from the 11th tee box which is a 380 yard par 4 that bends to the right.
Here we have a 166 yard par 3 over water . . . just an easy swing with a mid iron for most players.
I enjoyed playing this course as did the others in my group. Despite the fact that most players were using golf carts, the course is easily walkable and I would not hesitate to recommend someone attack this one on foot. I thought the course had a nice classic feel with a number of holes that I really enjoyed and thought were very memorable. Overall, it had what I consider the quintessential Pinehurst vibe with the rolling hills, beds of pine straw and the occasional water hazard. For a value course in the Pinehurst area I think this one is a great option.