Course Spotlight

What Makes Pine Needles Special

By Abby Parsons, PGA
Published on

Louise Duncan of Scotland player her tee shot on the tenth hole during the first round of the 77th US Women's Open Championship at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.Getty Images

Growing up in Pinehurst, North Carolina not only means growing up with a lot of golf in the area, but a lot of great golf at that. Everyone knows the Pinehurst Resort, but not everyone knows the beauty that is Pine Needles.
Just minutes away from the resort sits this unbelievable Donald Ross design tucked away in Southern Pines, surrounded by more pine trees than you thought was possible. 
Full disclosure: it is my favorite golf course in the state.
This is one of those golf courses that the television truly does not do it justice. Hitting your drive in the fairway does not mean you have the rest of the hole easy; rather, you will most likely be gifted with some sort of sidehill lie that you were not expecting, or a shot into an intimidating green that will make you question if you can even keep it on the putting surface.
The visuals that this course provides are special. Whenever I played Pine Needles, I felt like the tee shots forced me to block everything out but the fairway. The pine trees lining each and every hole acted as gutters in a bowling lane. Roll it into the gutter and it could lead to a score you are not quite looking for. 
The greens are hard. Not the level of difficulty where you say to yourself “dang those greens were tough,” but the level of difficulty where you question the game of golf itself. They roll pure, but the reads are not easy to grasp. Takes a good twelve holes or so to think “maybe I have these greens figured out by now.” Then you get to thirteen green and think, “maybe not.”
There is so much character to Pine Needles. When playing at the Pinehurst Resort, you feel like you are playing at Pinehurst. As great as that is, playing Pine Needles is a different experience. At Pine Needles, it is just you and that golf course- not you and the golf course and four other surrounding golf courses. It is so quiet on that golf course, almost scary quiet.
Let’s not forget the history of Pine Needles. This week the course is hosting its fourth U.S. Women’s Open and has hosted a U.S. Senior Women’s Open as well. Crowning great champions including Annika Sörenstam, Karrie Webb, Cristie Kerr, and Sandra Palmer, the course is truly a test of talent and mental strength. It will be interesting to see whose name will be added to that list of champions. 
Pine Needles will get a great champion this week. That course will decide who is fit to hoist the Semple Trophy, and whoever that course picks will be one lucky champion.