Final stages of Pinehurst restoration


Sean Dudley

Pinehurst’ famous Number Two course will close for the winter on 16 November in preparation for the final stage of a restoration programme. The course, universally regarded as Donald Ross’s masterpiece, is scheduled to reopen in March 2011.

The restoration project, which is being led by the design firm of Coore & Crenshaw, is perhaps the most radical ever undertaken on a major US championship course. The Pinehurst resort says the project’s aim is to restore the course’s natural and strategic character, returning some of the shot values and strategic play that have been lost over time. When it reopens, Pinehurst Number Two will have no rough, larger playing areas and a natural aesthetic that befits the native soil and topography and is reminiscent of Ross’s original design.

“We’re thrilled with the progress of the restoration, and we expect that this will have golfers falling in love with Number Two all over again,’’ said Pinehurst president Don Padgett II. “Donald Ross designed Number Two to stand the test of time, and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have rekindled the elements that defined that vision.” 

Using historic photos of the course that date to the 1940s, Coore & Crenshaw have made significant progress since embarking on the project in February, including the softening of fairway lines from the wall-to-wall grass look synonymous with the modern era. In particular, the large-scale irrigation system has been ripped up, and the course will, in future, be watered only via the original centre-line sprinklers. More than half of the course’s 1,100 sprinklers have been turned off. Irrigation will be reduced by around 30 per cent, which will have a huge impact on the presentation of the course, with fairway edges being susceptible to browning out in hot periods. 

The course’s fairways and will be kept firmer. Approximately 26 acres of bermuda rough has been stripped, returning the natural areas of hardpan, sandy waste areas, pine straw and wire grass that were part of the original topography. Rough has been entirely eliminated, leaving just two lengths of grass: fairway and green. 

“You can already see it come alive,” Crenshaw said. “When you see and feel Pinehurst, you know it’s something different. It remains a masterpiece, a course so beautifully balanced and testing.” 

“We’ve never wanted to radically change the golf course,” Coore added. “We’re just trying to uncover some of the character that had faded, to bring back some of those elements that made Pinehurst Number Two one of the world’s unique and cherished courses.” 

Number Two will play host to the US Open and Women’s Open on consecutive weeks in 2014. While the USGA was not a leading force behind the restoration work, the organisation has been consulted in these early stages and is supportive of the project.