As usual, I was the one who had the responsibility for selecting the courses when my group visited Pinehurst last month. Typically with this group we like to play one or two really good courses and then try to find a couple of low priced options that are not necessarily marquee name courses. After settling on Dormie Club (I can’t stop going back there. This would be my third visit!) and Mid Pines as our top shelf options I began to do some internet research in order to find lower price options for our other two games.
One name that I had seen many times before and had always interested me is Southern Pines Golf Club. The golf course is a Donald Ross design which is something that will get my attention every time . . . especially when the course is in Pinehurst where Ross is likely to have actually been to the site and involved with the construction. When I went to Southern Pines website I was expecting to find a $100+ green fee based on the pedigree of the course so I was shocked and delighted to find afternoon rates between $50-75. Since we were already playing Mid Pines in the morning this would work perfectly. I booked a tee time right on the courses website and we were all set.
Upon pulling into the parking lot at Southern Pines I have to say that the first impression was not great. The clubhouse and pro shop were not exactly commensurate with a classic Donald Ross course and I couldn’t help but wonder if the golf course had suffered a similar “modernization” as the club’s buildings had. Over the last five years one of the many things I have learned is to not judge a book by its cover, so as my playing partners began to question exactly where I had dragged them I simply gathered up my clubs and headed to the proshop to check in. I certainly wasn’t going to let something like the clubhouse make me question the course without having laid eyes on it yet.
Since we had just come from our morning game at Mid Pines there wasn’t really any reason to hit balls and we went directly to the 1st tee. The back tees played to a short 6,268 yards so we “tipped it out” which is something we rarely get the opportunity to do. The photo below was taken from the first tee which is a 361 yard par 4. As can be seen below, the rough was still in its winter dormancy, but the grass in the fairways was ideal and provided great lies.
At the second green, pictured below, I was happy to find quite a bit of undulation that I had not been expecting to see. I loved this green and hoped we would find more putting surfaces like this throughout the course.
Below is a photo of the 4th green which is a two tiered affair. As can be seen below the balls from our group that found the green were not capable of making the correct tier. The approach shot into this green is uphill which makes judging the distance difficult.
The 10th hole, shown below, is a short par 4 that plays 333 yards from the back tee. A tee shot that finds the fairway will set up a short iron or wedge for most players and provide a good look at birdie.
The photo below was taken from the 11th tee which is a par 4 dogleg right and at 312 yards, even shorter than the 10th hole. Note the 150 yard stake in the middle of the fairway just beyond the water. The safe shot is to hit an iron toward that stake and have a 150 yard shot into the green. Players who want a good look at a birdie or eagle will want to drive their ball over the bunker on the right with a little bit of a cut on it. It requires a big shot to actually get on the green, but a decent shot will leave most long ball hitters just short of the green. I thought it was a fun shot to hit and one of the few holes where I actually drove the ball well.
Once we wrapped up our game and were loading our clubs into the car our entire group agreed that Southern Pines Golf Club lived up to its billing. The course was both fun and challenging and had a great vintage feel to it. At a little over 6,200 yards the course is short, but it gives us mere mortals a chance to reach some of the par 5s in two or have some really good birdie opportunities on the short par 4s. In my book, that means fun. The course was in great shape, the greens rolled nicely and the pace of play was smooth. All this for a little over $50 and I have to believe that we would have been hard pressed to find a better value in the Pinehurst area. I would certainly recommend Southern Pines to any of my friends heading to Pinehurst.