No. 8-“Pinehurst National”

No. 8-“Pinehurst National”

The sexy shaping around Pinehurst No. 8’s 9th green. (photos: pinehurst.com)

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 and contour — is a hard sell for resort golfers and can seem dramatically over-hyped next to the outrageous green fee. And as good as the other six courses are, none match the visual layering of the No. 8 course, which is secluded off-property with scenes that change through the area’s pines, lakes, marshes and exposed washes of sand.

In contrast to the original historic Donald Ross courses, Pinehurst No. 8 is a modern, constructed specimen. The design makes good use of an interesting site and the routing keeps the action fresh and forward. The contour in the greens is strong enough to hold your attention and the set of par-3’s are above the average.

The attractive par-3 8th, over a marsh, into a benched green.

The fairway avenues bend, tilt and shudder side-to-side (the par-5 2nd does a kind of 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 Tom 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 clear of me if there’s another of those Fazio uphill, bunker-balanced 18th holes with a tee shot over a pond and the clubhouse perfectly framed behind the green, because I’ll be throwing up. (88)

Pinehurst No. 8

Pinehurst

Architect: Tom Fazio

Year: 1996

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