Course Spotlight

Five Things to Know About Pinehurst

By Abby Parsons, PGA
Published on

Pinehurst No. 2.

I am fortunate enough to have “Pinehurst, North Carolina” as my hometown on my nametag while working as the Head Golf Professional at Pinnacle Peak Country Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
When people see I’m from the golf mecca, the first thing they say is, “You’re from Pinehurst? Of course you’re in golf!”

Believe it or not, I was one of the very few serious golfers in my class/school growing up. When I say very few, I mean like five in my entire school. Pinehurst is a special place, especially for those who travel from all over the world to experience it. When people visit, they feel like they are sent back in time.
But for me . . . it was just home.

And as the golf world descends on Pinehurst next week for the 124th U.S. Open, it feels like the perfect time to share five things to know about this special place from someone like me who was born and raised in the 28374 area code.

There are 10 golf courses at Pinehurst Resort & over 40 in a 15-mile radius!
Abby Parsons, PGA, poses next to the Payne Stewart Statue at Pinehurst Resort.
Abby Parsons, PGA, poses next to the Payne Stewart Statue at Pinehurst Resort.
My hometown friends and I all joke that we grew up with golf in our backyard, but for a large portion of Pinehurst residents, that's literally the truth. And the golf is tremendous, too.
Take Pinehurst Resort’s courses for example. No. 2, the most famous and host of the U.S. Open, was designed by Donald Ross, and has stood the test of a a time as his crown jewel that anyone can play. But then there's nine other 18-hole courses on property.
Dr. Leroy Culver and John Dunn Tucker created No. 1, with Ross adding his fingerprints to make it a classic. Ross also designed No. 3, while Gil Hanse created No. 4, Ross protege Ellis Maples No. 5, Tom and George Fazio No. 6, Rees Jones No. 7, Tom Fazio No. 8, Jack Nicklaus No. 9 and the new kid on the block, No. 10 by Tom Doak, opened earlier this year. There's also the beloved Cradle short course that Hanse created and Thistle Du putting course right near the clubhouse.
Having this variety of world-class architecture is just part of what makes Pinehurst Resort so special.  If the price tag is not in your budget for a golf trip, however, don’t count out the incredible courses in the area. Check out my story on some of the other note-worthy destinations to tee it up at when you are in town.
Fox squirrels are built different
The fox squirrels of Pinehurst.
The fox squirrels of Pinehurst.
When you walk the grounds of any Pinehurst course, you will notice some hefty-looking squirrels with light-colored fur that surrounds their noses. If you spot them from the tee box and they are sitting in the middle of the fairway, it will 100 percent look like they have a golf ball in their mouth.
Don’t worry, they won’t try to grab your golf balls (most times), but they will try to eat the food out of your golf bag or in your golf cart. They are cute, but they are hungry.
Fox squirrels are the largest squirrels in the state, and they love Pinehurst, North Carolina. If you're headed to the U.S. Open, keep your friends close and your snacks closer.
Pinehurst is where the tea is sweet, and the hospitality is even sweeter
Living out west, I get strange looks whenever I ask for an order sweet tea. But when you're in Pinehurst, asking for an unsweet tea is a sin.
Pinehurst has its food quirks, just like most regions in the U.S. There are great biscuits with gravy everywhere you go, delicious, vinegary BBQ, and be sure to not miss out on the best sandwiches you could have at the Village Deli.
The community of Pinehurst is a special place for Abby Parsons, PGA.
The community of Pinehurst is a special place for Abby Parsons, PGA.
The hospitality of Pinehurst oozes with southern charm, and you will have more people call you “darlin’” and “honey” when you are in Pinehurst, North Carolina, than you thought was possible. It makes Pinehurst stand out as not just a world-class golf destination but a place where service and hospitality go the extra mile.
Pinehurst hosts more than just the U.S. Open
Pinehurst annually hosts the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship for junior golfers, and hosts the North & South Amateur Championship for the best amateurs in the world. This means that there are golfers that can play in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship as a junior, the North & South when they get a little older and, finally, qualify for a Major Championship in the U.S. Open.
The U.S. Kids Golf World Championship is spread out over 10 golf courses in the area including Pinehurst No. 1, 5, 6 and 8, Talamore Golf Club, Legacy Golf Links, Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club, Midland Country Club, Southern Pines Golf Club and Longleaf Golf and Family Club.
The North & South Men's Championship has some serious prestige and is just as old as the U.S. Open. It takes place on Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 8, with 36 holes of stroke play followed by a 32-player match play round on No. 2. This year, it takes place right after the U.S. Open alongside the North & South Women's Championship (which is on the same courses). The North & South Junior is the following week, and the North & South Senior Championships happen in August.
So, needless, to say, it'll be a busy summer at Pinehurst Resort . . . but what better place to be?
Try the Pinewild Par 3 and take a trip to Mid Pines
I grew up playing Pinewild’s courses on a regular basis, and I would always beg my dad to take me to the par-3 course, The Azalea. It is one of the most scenic par-3 courses you will ever play, and it genuinely feels like a different hole every time. Pinewild is a great Pinehurst experience, and it is a worthy spot to bring your family to check out the Azalea.
The smile says it all. Young Abby Parsons, PGA, enjoying an incredible round at Pinewild Country Club.
The smile says it all. Young Abby Parsons, PGA, enjoying an incredible round at Pinewild Country Club.
Mid Pines, meanwhile . . . this place is special. What I always take away from this golf course is the short game needed to take on this classic Donald Ross design. The crafty wedge shots a player can use around the greens are not like most courses. If you have a “trusty steed” wedge and type of shot near the putting surface, you can go ahead and put that to the side because you will need much more than that.
The golf course also feels like a true Pinehurst/Southern Pines experience. The layout, pine needles, and waste areas make it known that you are in the golf mecca of the U.S. The rates are very reasonable for this course as well, and it is worth a tee time when you are in Moore County.
The second hole at Mid Pines. (Photo by Matt Hahn)
The second hole at Mid Pines. (Photo by Matt Hahn)
To say that Pinehurst, North Carolina, is a special place would be an understatement. Growing up there has turned into a personality trait of mine, and I have no shame about it. Myself and the golf world are looking forward to seeing who comes out on top at this year’s U.S. Open.
Watch out for those fox squirrels!