Double digits

Pinehurst No. 10, Pinehurst, North Carolina :: Photo: Pinehurst Resort

No golf destination has more momentum right now than Pinehurst Resort. 

Already one of the game’s iconic locations in the North Carolina Sandhills, the resort opened its Tom Doak-designed No. 10 course this week about a month before hosting the 124th U.S. Open on the famous No. 2 course. In addition, the World Golf Hall of Fame is set to open its doors soon, moving from its Florida location. 

“That would be a good decade for a lot of places and we’re squeezing it into the first half of an incredible year,” says longtime Pinehurst Resort president Tom Pashley. 

Pinehurst now features 10 golf courses plus the nine-hole short course The Cradle. The highly-decorated Doak, who has six courses ranked in the top 100 in the world, now takes his place among a who’s who of golf course architects who have designed or restored layouts at Pinehurst. That list includes Donald Ross, Rees Jones, Tom Fazio, Gil Hanse, and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. 

It was almost two years ago to the day of No. 10’s official opening that Doak was working on a project in Texas when his phone rang and he glanced at the number. 

“I saw that it was a call from the Pinehurst area code and I was like, ‘What’s that gonna be? I guess I better take this call,”’ Doak recalls. “It was Tom Pashley and the first thing out of his mouth was ‘We want you to build our next golf course.’ I didn’t expect that. 

Photo: Dave Droschak

“I’ve had four or five billionaire clients who wanted to start tomorrow and it has never taken less than a year. And Pinehurst got this going in seven months.”

It was certainly an aggressive timeline, but Pinehurst officials wanted its new course to launch quickly — to coincide with the U.S. Open in mid-June in addition to help meet unprecedented play.  

“It’s interesting that nine (courses) wasn’t enough,” Pashley says of the resort’s increased business since COVID-19. “There’s so much demand right now, both on the resort side and from our private members club that we needed some additional capacity.”

Pinehurst was fortunate to have purchased around 900 acres of land two decades ago after The Pit Golf Links in nearby Aberdeen closed. 

“Over the years we’ve evaluated other things that we could do with it,” Pashley says. “Did we want to keep it? Were we ever going to need more golf again? It was hard to imagine you would need more than nine courses, but thankfully we were patient, we held onto the property and had it when the time was right.”

Doak, 63, says he came to Pinehurst with his parents 50 years ago. 

“So, I’ve got fond memories of it,” he says. “I never imagined that I would work here — never. It’s kind of like working in Scotland. It’s like when I was there for the first time I said to myself ‘I’m never going to build a golf course here. They don’t need any more golf courses.’ And that’s kind of the way I thought about this place, too.”

Most of the shaping work at the 7,020-yard No. 10 was accomplished by Angela Moser, one of just a handful of female architects in the business. The layout features a rugged look with rolling hills, tons of natural areas, sandy wastelands, native wiregrass, wide corridors and big, undulating greens.  

Photo: Pinehurst Resort

“There’s just so much more native here than what is currently happening on some of these other golf courses we’re working on,” Moser says. “Here in Pinehurst you have this purple flower and yellow flower, and while we were building the course there was just so many other plants that would pop up. It just makes it very, very unique and beautiful in its own right and will set this course apart — not that plants really count for golf course architecture but it’s different and so visual.” 

Pashley noted that No. 10, which for now will remain a walking-only course, is a nice contrast to the resort’s other nine layouts. 

“The elevation change provides you different vistas and different views, so kudos to Angela and Tom for delivering something that feels like it belongs in the Sandhills, but it also feels different than anything else we have.”

The signature hole is No. 8, a par-4 that measures just 385 yards but golfers have to navigate a semi-blind tee shot over a 30-foot high sand mound for starters, to a fairway that has more than a dozen mounds to a green also protected by another large mound. 

“It may be the biggest, boldest hole on the golf course, maybe in Moore County,” Pashley says. “Somebody said it was like playing down the spine of a dragon.” 

Some of the tall mounding on No. 8 was left over from the old Pit Golf Links layout.

“It was a cool feature and we wanted to use it,” Doak says. “It’s the wildest hole on the golf course, but not nearly and hardest hole.” 

That distinction belongs to the 13th hole, a par-4 that measures 500 yards.

Pashley says No. 10 could be played as a championship layout, but that was not the intent. 

“What’s happening at our clubhouse area is so exciting with The Cradle and people come from all over just to see it and to admire it,” he says. “It’s golf’s national park, but No. 10 is going to have a different, more in tune with nature feel. 

“There are times for everything. There are times when you want to be a part of the scene and you want to people watch and have a lot of fun. And there’s times when you want to kind of sneak away. This is going to be a place where you can do that.”

The words “pure golf” are often overused, but No. 10 fits the bill. 

“When you get to No. 10 you feel like you have this place to yourself,” Pashley says. “You hear the birds chirp and the crickets squeak. This is a great golf sanctuary and we’re happy to share it with all golfers who come to Pinehurst.”