Truth be told, I don’t have a big golf bucket list. Living on the east coast, I’ve been blessed to play several world class courses in the last 30 years, including Pine Valley, Merion and Oakmont. They’re all wonderful, and great golf never gets old, but I’m honestly at the point where I get almost as big a kick out of playing an old muni, and am especially fond of 9 hole courses.
But I have always wanted to give Pinehurst #2 a go, and this summer decided to finally follow through and give it a shot. Accomodations? That was a no-brainer. We have been to the Sandhills at least a half dozen times, and we almost always stay at Mid South, affiliated with Talamore Golf Resort.
The lodges there are plush and beautiful, with balconies that overlook the semi-private golf course there.
The course at Mid South (pictured here) is also a must-play on any Pinehurst area visit… an interesting design with plenty of good holes and great variety. It won’t be the least expensive course on your trip, but it is a great value for the quality of golf.
Previous visits have included rounds at Pine Needles and Mid Pines, terrific Donald Ross designs… and we always make sure we play Southern Pines Golf Club, another Ross layout but with a more moderate price point.
This time around, though, the focus of the trip was #2. And it was a blast… despite kicking my butt around the greens. I had been warned about the unofficial Pinehurst stat — GVIR. That’s greens visited in regulation, meaning you’re on after your approach… but off after your first putt finds an unfortunate slope. Well, I didn’t putt off any greens, but was initiated quickly. My greenside bunker shot on the first hole checked up nicely, but kept trickling and then picked up steam until I found myself chipping back from the other side. I’ll spare you the other details, but let’s just say never have I scored so poorly when hitting the ball so well: 43 – 43 = 86.
At those other famous golf courses I mentioned earlier, you know that if you keep it below the hole all day you can minimize the damage and perhaps score well. But at Pinehurst #2, there is no “below the hole”. The greens seem to twist and turn everywhere. They also took the idea of firm and fast to a new level, at least for me.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! The day was also a special treat because my son John played alongside. John was born with Down Syndrome 28 years ago, and I brainwashed him with golf very early on. The result is a kid with a surprisingly good golf game who can get around just about any course. The few times he was out of play on #2, we just threw his ball into the fairway and he played on. And the two young men who caddied for our group — Thomas and Kevin — were fantastic with John and all of us.
Then we hit the pro shop, and surprise, surprise… Mr. DealTrackerGolf nearly gagged on the prices. I was sort of prepared for that, but when the reality kicked in, I had a tough time spending four or five times an online deal price just to have that cool little Putter Boy logo on my shirt. So I swallowed hard and bought a hat. I know, last of the big spenders. Old habits die hard.
Next time, I’ll probably stay more in character and schedule a return trip to Seven Lakes Golf Club, a few miles north of Pinehurst. Their golf rates start at about the price I paid for the hat… and include cart… breakfast… lunch… and two draft beers. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
I’m also intrigued by the news that Talamore Resort has “remastered” its Rees Jones layout, widening the landing areas and taking out numerous traps, but adding some Scottish-type sod-walled bunkers. I have always enjoyed my rounds at Talamore, but I’m all about speeding up play and letting the angles to the greens dictate difficulty… instead of constantly threading the needle with your tee ball or taking driver out of your hands. You can read more about it here.
Then, I’ll think about scheduling a return trip to #2. The green complexes there owe me a little love. If they behave, I just might just run inside and logo up with a complete outfit!