For our final day at Pinehurst Resort, we saved the best for last – A round on the iconic No. 2 course. The legendary 1909 Donald Ross design has hosted more big tournaments and national championships than I can even list here, including the 2014 Men’s and Women’s US Open and the 2019 US Amateur.
Our caddie for the day was a Pinehurst veteran named Marshall who has been there for close to 20 years and knows just about every inch of the course and every subtle undulation on the greens.
I think what makes the No 2. course at Pinehurst so revered is that it is playable and challenging for golfers of all abilities, provided you play from the correct set of tee markers. There is ample room off the tee for most, but many landing areas pinch in at 270-300 yards with bunkers and native areas coming into play and make hitting the fairway more challenging for the back-tee bombers. Big hitters will not be overpowering this golf course!
Finding fairways is only the first step to scoring on the No 2 course, however. Donald Ross and his famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) upside down bowl greens demand accurate approach shots. Wayward shots or mishits will catch the slopes and false edges and, in many cases be directed away from the hole and off the green into collection areas and bunkers.
Knowing where to hit your approaches is critical to good scoring in general, but especially on this course, and a good caddie is invaluable in that regard. It also helped to have a detailed green book to refer to, like the ones used by the pros on tour. In this case, I picked up one of the new green books from GolfLogix before my trip. As you can see below, the heat map for the green on the second hole is quite dramatic, with false edges on every side of the green and a plateau in the middle for hole locations. Effectively, the green is only the size of what you can see in white and green on the heat maps. The areas in yellow, orange and red are slopes that will not hold a golf ball. That convex shape is what makes the greens at Pinehurst No 2 such a challenge.
On this day, the pin was located in the back right on the edge of white area, which means missing long or right was a huge no-no. As it turns out, I pulled my 9-iron approach way left into the mounds to the left of the green but (with a little luck) managed to chip in for birdie!
After our experience sitting on the patio at The Deuce watching other groups coming up 18 to finish their round on the No. 2 course, my concentration levels peaked as we reached the last hole. I didn’t want to be heckled for hitting a bad shot on the last hole! I hit a solid tee shot up the right that found its way into the native area, but I had a good lie on some firm sand and hit a nine iron that drifted left on the wind and ended up in a greenside bunker. Without much green to work with, I took my medicine and decided to play past the pin. A decent bunker shot left me with a 20 footer for par, which I missed. Fortunately, the masses on the patio didn’t roast me, as most of them probably suffered worse fates than shooting 76 from the tips on a course that has hosted six majors and a Ryder Cup. I hit the ball very well, but five 3-putt bogeys was my undoing on those treacherous greens.
The village of Pinehurst is small and quaint, with almost everything within walking distance. The shuttle service is always ready to take you anywhere you need to go, or you can even take a bike to explore on your own. After a great day on the No. 2 course we took the shuttle back to the Carolina Hotel just up the road from the clubhouse to clean up and sit down for a steak dinner at the elegant Carolina Room downstairs and wrapped up the evening with a few drinks at the Ryder Cup Lounge.
Day 3 of our trip is in the books, and our final day will be spent off site playing the very unique and visually striking Tobacco Road Golf Club before hitting the road back south.