The Itinerant Golfer

The Itinerant Golfer's Take on Dormie Club

Pinehurst, North Carolina | Dormie Club

Architect: Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw
Year: 2010

6033 Beulah Hill Church Road, West End, North Carolina 27376
(910) 215-4587

driving range available
motorized golf carts and caddies available

The Dormie Club in Pinehurst North Carolina had a major underground buzz long before the first game of golf had ever been played on the course. It all started with a few photos of the Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw designed golf course posted to the internet and talk that the new course was destined for a Top 20 spot in the U.S. rankings. I have to admit that when I saw those first photos of the course they got my blood pumping. Pinehurst is just 3 hours away from Richmond and would make a perfect spot for me to join a club as a national member which is something I had been considering. I decided to sit back and wait to see how things with the club unfolded before I got too excited.

Sadly, as things unfolded at Dormie, the U.S. economy began to unravel at the same time and the club fell victim to the unfortunate economic situation of 2009-10. What was planned as an ultra private retreat style club with a walking only golf course is now operating, temporarily, as a daily fee semi-private golf course with carts. Back in the 1930s when the great depression struck America there were several young start up clubs that struggled at that time as well. Today some of those clubs are considered to be among the very best in the country, so looking from a historical perspective, Dormie Club is in good company.

My friend Kyle was in North Carolina over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2010 and we made arrangements to meet in Pinehurst and take a loop around Dormie Club. Pinehurst is an easy drive from Richmond, so my brother and I set out in the morning and arrived at the club around 11AM. We parked in the otherwise empty parking lot and went into the temporary clubhouse to check in with the pro. Once we had settled up for our greens fee we headed down to the practice tee to hit some balls and get warm. Kyle arrived a few minutes later and we headed to the 1st tee.

It should also be noted that while golf carts are currently available at Dormie, the club still maintains a caddie program and it is well worth taking one if you play there. As I have stated on this website before, I am of the strong opinion that the only way to get a genuine feel for a golf course is to walk it, so we were happy to have caddies available to us for our round here.

Each set of tees at Dormie Club has their own scorecard so the yardages quoted throughout this write up will be from the 6,355 yard tees that we chose to play.

The 1st hole starts the course off from an elevated tee box with a 383 yard par 4. As is typical of Coore & Crenshaw designs the fairway is quite generous. The photo below was taken from the tee box.
Dormie Club
Below is a look at the 1st green. With the turf being dormant this time of year the grass around the bunkers is not very long and balls rolling on the ground have a much greater chance of finding their way into the bunker so its best to keep your ball away from these as much as possible.
Dormie Club
The 3rd hole was one my favorites on the course and is a short par 4 that we played from 295 yards. The photo below was taken from the tee box and the smart play is a 3 wood or utility club up the middle.
Dormie Club
Here is a look at the short shot onto the 3rd green. As can be seen in the photo the green is fairly undulating and hitting a good pitch is essential to setting up a par or birdie.
Dormie Club
Below is a view of the 4th green which runs downhill from the left side of the photo to the right. A miss to the right side of the green with the hole cut in this location makes for a delicate pitch in order to get close to the flag.
Dormie Club
The photo below of the 6th green shows more of the type of undulation that is found on the greens here.
Dormie Club
The first par 3 on the course is the testy 205 yard 7th hole. As can be seen below the tee shot requires a significant carry over a waste area. The left side offers a bail out area while balls going too far right are almost sure to end up in the waste area or a bunker.
Dormie Club
The 8th hole is a great long par 4 that we played from 459 yards. The fairway falls to the left so the best drive will fly along the right side of the fairway and catch a good roll off the hill.
Dormie Club
Below is a look into the 8th green.
Dormie Club
The 9th hole is a fairly short par 3 that we played from 141 yards. Tee shots coming up short right, short left or long will likely find one of the bunkers and require a good up and down from a bunker in order to make par.
Dormie Club
The 10th hole is a strange layout and not a hole that I loved. It is a par 5 we played from 603 yards that has an oddly placed waste area that makes for an awkward second shot. The photo below is of the principals nose bunker that resides about 100 yards out from the green.
Dormie Club
I loved the 12th hole which is a very short par 3 we played from 98 yards. The photo below was taken from the tee box. This green is protected by a number of strategically placed bunkers.
Dormie Club
This closer view of the green shows the two tiers of the putting surface and also is a better look at the edge of the green that flows into the bunker. As stated earlier the grass is near dormant and shorter in some places than I suspect it would be in peak season. Balls that get too near the edge of this bunker will roll right in and make for a tough up and down.
Dormie Club
The 14th hole is another short par 4 but this one just beckons for driver. At 284 yards it is conceivably driveable for big hitters, but is it really worth the risk when an easy hybrid and wedge can set up a good birdie opportunity? Tough decision.
Dormie Club
Here is a look at the 14th green. The bunker to the right is sure to catch plenty of tee shots with drivers.
Dormie Club
I loved the 15th hole which we played from 361 yards. The photo below was taken from the tee and, as can be seen in the picture, players who take an aggressive line to the right are rewarded with a shorter approach shot. I opted to aim just to the left of the bunkers.
Dormie Club
Below is a look into the green from the fairway. Note that the green is partially hidden from view. With a hole location at the back its conceivable that the shot would be completely blind.
Dormie Club
Here is view from the green looking back down the hole.
Dormie Club
The 17th hole is a great par 5 that we played from 449 yards. The ideal line from the tee is right down the middle with a nice little draw. A good drive here will set up an opportunity to reach the green in two.
Dormie Club
I’m a big fan of the second shot on this hole. It bears a striking resemblance to the 2nd hole at Pine Valley Golf Club which is one of my all time favorites. This hole is short for a par 5, but with the uphill climb to the green it plays quite a bit longer than the yardage would indicate.
Dormie Club
Once we wrapped up at the 18th hole we made a quick pit stop in the temporary clubhouse and then loaded the car back up for the trip home. Upon reflection during the drive back to Virginia, I loved the course even more than I did as I played it. The property itself is incredible and Coore & Crenshaw did a remarkable job of creating a smooth and walkable routing loaded with a variety of fun and interesting golf holes. I’m not sure what more anyone can ask for.

As for the future of Dormie Club, it is my understanding that the plan is to eventually move ahead as a fully private club with a new clubhouse and member cottages. However, until that time, whenever it may be, the club will be accepting outside play from the general public. While this is unfortunate for the club and its members it is a lucky opportunity for all of us golf nuts to play a world class golf course that we normally wouldn’t have access to. Get to Pinehurst and play it while you still can. I wish the club the best of luck as they go forward and hope that the true vision will soon be realized.

  • Hector

    Great pics. I was just there in October 2011 and thought the course was fantastic. I find it interesting that they let the fairways go dormant. I imagine that the fairways played very firm and fast.
    I think it is one of the best courses in Pinehurst. What are your favorite courses outside of the Pinehurst Resort?

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      Hector, I’ve not played a lot of courses in Pinehurst outside of the resort courses. Dormie is my favorite of all the courses I’ve played. I’m headed back down there in 3 weeks and will be playing Dormie again as well as Mid-Pines, Southern Pines and Whispering Woods. I’m planning to write profiles of all three of those courses when I get home.

  • Hector

    I played both Mid Pines and Pine needles which is right acrss the road. I found the green complexes at mid pines to be very interesting
    but the course conditions were average at best. Pine needles, on the other hand was in pristine condition. Great course, but I was told that the greens were redone to accommodate the recent US womens open.
    Nevertheless, both courses are a lot of fun to play. Interesting to see what your thoughts are on Southern Pines. I hear it is a great representation of Ross’s work. Have fun.

  • Mark

    I have been following your blog for some time now and thoroughly enjoy your adventures. Recently I was told that we have a mutual friend in Richmond (Ted). I am playing Dormie next week based upon your wonderful review and the positive comments on GCA. I would like to buy you a drink if you are in Pinehurst at the same time as thanks for your tireless efforts.

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      Mark, I’ll be in Pinehurst next Fri-Sun. I’ll email you to discuss your schedule.

  • trey

    just got back from trip to sharks tooth in fl to kill time while i detox thought i would email to see if we can set up mountain this summer

  • Pingback: Southern Pines Golf Club « The Itinerant Golfer()

  • William

    Like the layout as I do on every Coore/Crenshaw course I have played. Not only is the 10th one of the goofier holes I’ve seen, it also displayed the signs of a place that was running low on money. Or so it was in June 2011.

  • Shak T

    I would you play at CCNC. The two courses there are among the best in Pinehurst.

  • Jimmy

    I got to play here in October and it was phenomenal. They told me the greens were running about an 11 and they had to slow them down from the year before. It was in great condition and I loved the minimalism in landscaping. Just a great course and a real test from the tips.

  • Kevin Vedder

    Just played Dormie last week, and it looked exactly like your pictures. Played hard and fast after a long and rough winter. Great course that I’d love to make a return to. Also played Pine Needles, Mid Pines, Mid South, Tobacco Road, National, and Southern Pines on this trip, but Dormie was the highlight.

    • golftripper

      Wow, great trip you put together there Kevin. Please make a comment on the Mid-Pines page with your thoughts on the restoration.