The second day of our Pinehurst trip started out with a round at Pinewild Country Club’s Holly Course. We were the first tee time off so we were there bright and early to check in with the pro shop. We had planned to walk the course which didn’t go over very well with the staff member working the pro shop. After questioning our ability to walk in less than 4 hours and 15 minutes no less than three times we got out of there and headed to the practice tee to make a few warm up swings. Since we had to take carts over to the practice tee we decided we may as well just stay in them for the round to ensure that we wouldn’t have a problem making our afternoon tee time which was scheduled a little bit tight.
I’m not sure I have ever played a Gary Player designed course before so I was interested to see what it was all about. On the 1st tee we decided to play the 6,388 yard tees which seemed a little short, but the next option of 7,021 yards was WAY too long for our group. I was surprised there was not something between those two options or at least some sort of combo option.
The initial thing I noticed standing on the 1st tee (pictured below) is that the hole ran straight up a steep hill. I tend to associate gentle rolling hills with the Pinehurst area but as I learned on the 1st hole of the Holly Course – and would be reinforced as the round progressed – the terrain here is quite a bit more severe than what I have grown to expect from North Carolina’s Sand Hills region.
Below is a look at the 162 yard 3rd hole which is a fairly straight forward par 3. Note the mounding and undulation leading up to the green. This type of design was present around the course in many areas.
The 408 yard 7th hole was a favorite for me with its steep downhill drive and dogleg to the right. It is handicapped as the hardest hole on the course, but with the right shot a lot of extra yardage can be squeezed out of the tee ball. I really enjoyed hitting a huge cutting drive down the hill. The photo below was taken from the tee box.
Below is a photo of the 13th hole which is a shortish par 4 that we played from 353 yards. I liked the look of the hole from the green and didn’t really feel like the water was in play all that much. Players who are really short off the tee can aim towards the left side of the fairway to take the shortest route over the water which is less than 200 yards from the blue tees.
The 16th hole was another opportunity to hit a downhill drive. No one in my group is exceedingly long and we had a couple of approach shots right around 100 yearsd on this 399 yard par 4. The photo below was taken from about 100 yards out. Depending on the hole location and the angle from the fairway it can be a bit of a tricky shot with the waste area fronting the green.
Once we finished up on the 18th green we hustled out of there in order to be able to make our next tee time. Overall, my take on the Pinewild experience was not that positive. The course was fairly fun, but didn’t necessarily suit my tastes with all of the manufactured mounding and undulation. I felt like the terrain was interesting enough on its own that the additional sculpting of the land was a bit forced. The course is also not easily walkable which is always a little bit of a put off to me. As mentioned above, we ended up taking carts and were glad that we did. I suppose this is why the pro shop employee was so bothered when we said we were going to walk. It would have been nice if we had simply been warned that the course is spread out in places and not an easy walk rather than being made to feel like jerks for wanting to walk.
In closing I’ll also address something else that was a bit of annoyance. The greens had been punched and heavily sanded just prior to our visit. I’m not completely opposed to playing on aerated and sanded greens as its something that any golfer has to expect at this time of year. That said, it would have been nice if the course would have warned me when I booked the tee time and maybe offered a small discount. Many courses are guilty of not providing this information at booking which is something I have never understood. It seems like it is the most basic of customer services to tell people if the course’s playability is going to be affected by a major maintenance event. I am of the opinion that the golf industry as a whole could stand to handle the whole green aeration situation a little bit better. Off to Pine Needles next!!!