The Takeaway: An excellent routing with firm and fast conditions that maximize the terrain features. There is little pizzazz or highly engaging design features; just a solid test you could enjoy daily. Grade B
Designer: Donald Ross 1928 (Kyle Franz restoration 2017)
Cost: $105 - $265 Click for current rates
Phone Number: 910-692-8611
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Pine Needles Golf Course's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 1005 Midland Road, Southern Pines, North Carolina 28387 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: No course has hosted the Women’s U.S. Open more times than Donald Ross’ classic Pine Needles (1996, 2001, 2007, and 2022). Built in 1928, Donald Ross provided generous fairways and challenging green sites. There are strong elevation changes throughout the course yet is very walkable. The course has been lengthened from its original design but still provides an intimate routing with short distances between tees and greens. Speaking of the greens, the restoration made them firm and fast while magnifying the breaks. The additional sand base also helps them drain exceptionally well when it rains. Wayward shots will likely find a bed of pine needles to rest on; much like the backyards of virtually every home on found on the course. Like most Ross courses, the greatness of Pine Needles is in the subtleties of the course as it lies across the natural terrain rather than trying to dominate it. The design is solid with little disappointment, but nothing that is highly compelling or memorable compared to other highly renowned courses. Pine Needles is the kind of course you could easily play everyday, but it would benefit from some more engaging design elements.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 3rd Hole – 145 Yard Par 3 – The postcard par three 3rd hole plays to a green fronted by a pond and is surrounded by a trio of bunkers. Recognized as one of Donald Ross' best 18 holes in Golf's Top 500 Holes Around the World book, the classic back to front slope in the green gives a clear view of the putting surface while the false front on the right side is quick to repel balls back down the fairway. From a visual standpoint, this is the most memorable hole at Pine Needles.
Best Par 3: 5th Hole – 218 Yards – From the highest point on the front nine, players are faced with a lengthy par three protected by bunkers and a false front. A high fade is the ideal shot into the putting surface that angles away from front left to back right. The highly undulated green makes it one of the most difficult to putt and contributes to how difficult of a par this hole is.
Best Par 4: 17th Hole – 461 Yards – A big hole the doglegs left through the trees with bunkering on the inside corner to contend with. Hitting a tee ball straight or right may end up in the woods, however staying on the right side of the fairway will setup the best angle on the downhill approach shot. The long approach can make this a difficult green to hit in regulation and will separate the gamers from the pretenders. This is a shot makers hole that rewards ball control as much as any hole on the course.
Best Par 5: 1st Hole – 504 Yards – The opening hole provides a good birdie opportunity and can put an early smile on your face. The classic gentle handshake, the 1st hole doglegs right with bunkers protecting the inside of the turn with the fairway also kicking balls that direction. Avoiding the sand will give players the chance to reach the green in two with a downhill approach to a small, domed putting surface that provides the hole's biggest defense.
Birdie Time: 8th Hole – 360 Yard Par 4 – The downhill 8th gives players an opportunity to get a stroke back to make up for any mistakes thus far through the front nine. The tee shot plays to a valley fairway that narrows as it gets closer to the green, but finding the short grass will put a wedge in player's hands with an opportunity to go pinseeking. With the front of the green wide open, players can come in aerially or skip a ball onto the putting surface to get close to the flag. With another good birdie opportunity waiting on the 9th, players can go low to close out the front nine.
Bogey Beware: 2nd Hole – 481 Yard Par 4 – Long and straight, a deadly combination, the 2nd hole whips players back into reality after the easy opening hole. This two-shotter demands length and accuracy from tee to green and starts with a tee shot to a raised fairway before it descends to the putting surface. The fairway is elevated just enough to block the player's view of the green from the tee and a pair of fairway bunkers on the right will encourage players to favor the left side. The approach shot plays to a green that slopes from front to back and requires balls to be played to the front of the green for any chance of staying on. Players with ground game skills may find more success here than aerial players.