Back and forth I have sprinted through North Carolina many a time in the last few years, only occasionally taking the time for a golf game – or several. With almost 600 golf courses I have to admit that it ranks highly among my favorite states to visit when golf is concerned.
Years back I was fortunate to play all eight golf courses at Pinehurst Resort in a single 5 day golf frenzy – it still stands as a highlight of my golfing life. I longed to return there in a better time – that stint was just days after the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and it was a somber time for all. So, along with my buddy Jeff, we vowed to make a return to the venerable resort someday and in Mid-October this year we did just that.
To round out the trip (it will be the subject of a major travel feature that will appear next year in Flagstick Golf Magazine) we added in a few other destinations. The final itinerary found us playing nine courses in total with just one day that we would play twice – leaving lots of flexibility to check out other attractions, golf shops, and even a NASCAR race. For golf junkies it was a classic road trip.
I’ll say the weather was less than perfect although my true choice of words at the time would basically be unprintable. Early tee times resulted in near freezing temperatures by the time we teed off most days. Thankfully a warming trend on the last couple days left a much better impression although only be able to comfortably wear shorts for just nine holes was a bit of a letdown. I take solace in knowing that is unusual weather for them at this time of year.
To give you a framework for what we took on here is a list of the layouts we managed to play on the journey, in order: Pinehurst #1, Pinehurst #4, Pinehurst #8, Pinehurst #2, Little River, Anderson Creek, Lonnie Poole at NC State, UNC (University of North Carolina)- Finley, and The Preserve at Lake Jordan.
Lonnie Poole was the youngest of the courses (it opened just this past June) proved to be the weakest for us – mostly due to early condition and anomaly holes like a 550 yard, uphill PAR 4! But in time this near 7400-yard beast should improve as far as condition and playability as adjustments are made.
For the topper, well, how can you argue with Pinehurst among our selection? My second look at #8 left me even more impressed and this picturesque Tom Fazio layout pushed its way up on my favored Pinehurst list. #2 is still the grand pappy, the enigma you just try and figure out each time you play. Not the most aesthetically pleasing of the courses at the Pinehurst complex, nevertheless you can’t help but be drawn into its grasp. There are few better second shot courses on the planet. Bang it all you want off the tee but strategy for the last half of each hole is a priority unless you have a Houdini-like short game.
I am want for the space and time to lay out opinions of each and every course; that I will save for the Spring Feature but let’s just say there was nothing you could complain about as far as golf was concerned.
Spanning the Sandhills, Fayetteville, and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill regions like this proved once again why North Carolina is a leading golf state.
And the deals? Just too much. When John Meroski, CEO of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he could put us on a course like the Davis Love III designed Anderson Creek with a room for less than a $100 a night I just couldn’t do much more than chuckle. At about $45 for a green fee this time of year with a cart the course would be equivalent to a $100 plus offering in many towns across North America.
So eight years after we made that last Pinehurst journey, by the time we arrived home we felt we had experienced the trip we had hoped for. In one 36 hour stretch we managed to play Pinehurst #8 then attend the NASCAR Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s near Charlotte, followed by an early morning tee time on Pinehurst #2.
I mean, really, if we hadn’t been impressed by those happenings alone it might just be time to give up the game.
So if you haven’t been to North Carolina for golf then I suggest it might be about time you made the trek. I can tell you from my own experiences that it will never leave you disappointed. And surely it will leave you with something to talk about for a long time to come – just as it continues to do for us.
To check some images from our trip you can view them here.