Pinehurst Debuts Updated No. 4

Why you’re gonna want to play it

BY TOM MACKIN — Spring 2019

ust like golfers have their bucket lists of places they most want to play, golf course architects dream about locations where they’d like to someday work. Gil Hanse, who started his own design firm 25 years ago, can now check off Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C. He, along with business partner Jim Wagner and their team, unveiled an impressive new look on the resort’s No. 4 course last fall. Here, a few reasons you’ll want to add this fun, playable, and fair layout to your own must-play list.

CHANGE OF FACE: Famed designer Donald Ross created No. 4 in 1919, but multiple revisions since then erased virtually all of his hallmark features. For three months during this latest project, Hanse lived in Ross’ old house overlooking the third fairway of the acclaimed No. 2 course (built by Ross in 1907) and studied aerial photos of the original layout, particularly bunker placement. Hanse injected new character into existing hole corridors and calls his work on No. 4 a renovation, not a restoration.

SUPERSTAR INFLUENCE: The 2011 restoration of the adjacent No. 2 course, in which Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore spearheaded the return of native vegetation and sandy landscape, provided Hanse with a motivating template. “They did a phenomenal job,” Hanse says. “For us to be able to walk through their work every day, it was a great inspiration.”

CHALLENGING TERRAIN: No. 4 features even bigger sandscapes and larger bunkers than found on No. 2, notably on the par-5 ninth, where a huge area of sand in the middle of the fairway impacts second-shot decisions. “It’s usually more prudent to lay up short of that, as opposed to being more aggressive,” Hanse says. “While it is about 80 percent sand, you can get in some of the wiregrass tufts and really struggle.”

WELCOMING GREENS: Thankfully, No. 4’s green complexes are more receptive than their infamous, tabletop-shaped counterparts on No. 2. “The greens and surrounds there generally repel balls,” Hanse says. “We have a couple of greens like that, but most of them are more accepting than rejecting of shots.”

OUTSTANDING VANTAGE: One of the best views from any of Pinehurst’s nine 18-hole courses comes at the par-3 sixth green, sitting on the course’s highest point, from which you can see parts of 15 other holes.

What Else Is New at Pinehurst?

The No. 4 course, which will co-host the 2019 U.S. Amateur along with No. 2 in August, is just the latest in a series of ongoing updates at Pinehurst. In 2017, the resort debuted both the Thistle Dhu putting course and the Cradle, a Hanse-designed short course. Last October, a former steam power plant in the Village of Pinehurst was transformed into the Pinehurst Brewing Co. Next? Renovation of the 42-room Manor Inn, reopening in August.


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