Entering the Village of Pinehurst is like entering another world. Quaint cottages, small shops, white fences and centuries-old inns dot the tree-lined route to the Carolina House — the hotel that became my home this past weekend. The ride is a charming and refreshing look into the past.
But with the old, there is also the new. The 2014 US Open makes its way to Pinehurst this summer, more courses are being added to the eight classics already there and spa/resort renovations are aplenty in the area. Here are few things to experience when you visit.
Well, there’s No. 2 — the classic Donald Ross-designed course that will host June’s US Open. Ross finished the course (one of his first) in 1907 and perfected it up until his death in 1948. No. 2 has since hosted numerous tournaments including the 1935 PGA Championship, the 1951 Ryder Cup and the 1999 and 2005 US Opens. You may remember ’99?
In 2010, the course underwent major renovations to restore it to Ross’ original vision. And now, with its deep sand traps, devastating fescue and famous crowned greens — it’s more challenging than ever.
There’s a hole up there somewhere.
No thank you, fescue.
But even the worst lies on No. 2 have their golden linings:
The 619-yard par 5 tenth and 528-yard par 4 16th will be key holes during the tournament and interesting plays for Bubba Watson and other long ball hitters. Large, fast greens at nine and surrounding par 3’s should also haunt short-games throughout the weekend.
If you’re too intimidated by No. 2, you can play No. 1 or No.’s 3-8. They’re all in the same general area and designed by a combination of Ross, Rees Jones, Ellis Maples and Tom Fazio. Additionally, Pinehurst is working on adding a nearby ninth course to the mix. That one is designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Also offering an appetizing mix of the old and new is The Carolina Hotel.
Located directly across from the golfing grounds, “The Queen of the South” has been around since 1900. If you like breakfast buffets (who doesn’t like breakfast buffets?), get your fill at The Carolina Dining Room. It’s a great way to kick off your morning, especially if you’re headed out for a long day on the links. When your day is done, head straight to The Ryder Cup Lounge.
Grab a burger at the bar and try the local Railhouse beer. Or if you’ve really had a tough day on the turf, go for the rum, vodka, tequila, gin-enfused Carolina Peach Tea. Drink two and you’ll be in bed before sunset.
The Carolina also offers a recently-renovated spa with more than 40 different treatments. Steam rooms, salons, whirlpools and numerous packages are all available on a daily basis. Golfers should also ask about the $35 Tranquility Pass to the spa’s wet areas. It’ll be nice to have after an afternoon on No. 2.
Now, back to The Village, an area of the town that has remained almost unchanged and undisturbed for more than 100 years. Take advantage of the historical walking or biking tours in which you can explore the famed Holly Inn, established in 1895. Visit the Given Library and scour Donald Ross’ original sketches and images of Pinehurst in the late-19th century. Dip into The Department Store, built in 1897, for some local barbecue’n meats. Friendly owners at Dugan’s Pub will probably invite you in for a drink. If you run out of time, come back in 10, 20, 50 years — this area of Pinehurst will still be Pinehurst.
Once night hits, walk back to The Carolina, grab a cocktail and follow the live music out to the hotel’s large, wrap-around porch. Finish your drink to the sounds of laughter and clinking of wine glasses. It could be 1905. It could be 2014. It’s too dark and you’re too content to care.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?