It doesn’t surprise me when I hear people say their favorite course at Pinehurst is No. 8. The brilliance of No. 2—its subtlety—is a hard sell for resort golfers and it can seem dramatically over-hyped next to the outrageous green fee. And as good as the other six courses are, none match the visual flair of the No. 8 course, which is secluded off-property and features a variety of scene changes as it flows through the area’s pines and exposed washes of sand, lakes and marsh.
In contrast to the original historic Ross courses, Pinehurst No. 8 is a thoroughly modern, sculptured specimen. The design makes good use of a very solid site and the routing keeps the action fresh and well connected. I like the interesting, bold contour in the green complexes and a set of par threes that are well above average.
The fairway avenues bend, tilt and shudder side-to-side (the par-5 2nd does the cone-drill all the way to the green) and flash just enough leg to encourage you to flirt with an inside bunker or tree line. Though the course is slightly too short to face down “A” players who will simply fly drives past all the intrigue (it’s less than 7,100 yards), for the rest of us it’s pretty racy.
On the flip side, a lot of this stuff is pretty familiar. If it didn’t have the Pinehurst brand attached it wouldn’t be much different than all the “___ National,” “The Club at ___” and “___ Creeks” that Fazio has built elsewhere.
I put it up in the top half of his courses I’m familiar with, but there are probably a half dozen other courses in the Pinehurst area I sign up for before this one. And please stay away from me if I see one more of those Fazio uphill, bunker-balanced 18th holes with a short-carry off the tee and the clubhouse perfectly framed behind the green, because I’ll be throwing up. (88)
Architect: Tom Fazio