Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club

Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club

Pine Needles golf course, currently ranked #3 in North Carolina, is a classic Donald Ross-designed course and site of three recent U.S. Women’s Open Championships (1996, 2001, and 2007). This nationally-acclaimed course is both challenging and rewarding for golfers of all skill levels.

Located on higher land, Pine Needles is a sprawling course, occupying a full 250 acres and is more open to the affects of the wind. The brilliance of Pine Needles lies in how Donald Ross routed the holes across the rolling terrain. The crests of the rolling sand hills continually hit the golfer indifferent ways. Donald Ross draped some holes so that the crest of the hill angles from left to right across the fairway. Thus, on holes like the second and sixth, if the golfer can hug the left side, his tee ball will hit on top of the crest and bound down the far side. Conversely, if he edges down the right hand side (which is the shorter way home), his ball is unlikely to reach the crest and it will die into the hillside with little roll. The difference in the position of two identically struck tee balls with one down the left and one down the right can be as much as forty yards.

Pine Needles‘ rolling topography creates a variety of approach shots. For instance, the approach to the fourth is sharply uphill, the approach to the fifth is across a valley and the approach to the sixth is downhill. On the back nine, the tee ball on the eleventh is well downhill, the tee ball on the twelfth is uphill to a crest, and the tee ball on the fourteenth is level but must carry across a valley. Thus, the course progresses along in such a manner with no two holes being similar.

Pine Needles was a planned housing development from the start and was always intended to be the bigger, stronger of the two courses. Unfortunately, it opened late in 1928. The Great Depression took its toll on the Pinehurst community one year later and both courses were sold to take financial strain off the Pinehurst Resort. The fate of these two Ross courses hung in the balance. Fortuitously, Pine Needles was purchased in 1953 by Warren and Peggy Kirk Bell. Mrs. Bell was one of the founders of the LPGA Tour and knew Donald Ross.Their first meeting occurred almostsixty years ago, whenshe drove from her home in Florida to Pinehurst. Mrs. Bell arrived unannounced hoping to play in the tournament that week. The first person that she met wasone Mr. Donald Ross who politely informed her that the tournament was by invitation only. Disconsolate, she sat at a nearby table and prepared for the long drive home whereupon Rossre-appeared and extended on the spot an invitation to play. Such began a warm relationship between the Bells and their fondness for the Pinehurst area and forDonald Ross. Nearly forty years after acquiring Pine Needles, the Bell family was also involved in the acquisition of Mid Pines, and thus the two courses are once again linked by a common ownership which understands golf. One such benefit is that they intend to restore in the near term the ninth green at Mid Pines, which is the sole green there that isn’t true to Ross’s original intent. Previous management had softened the green because the president of the hotel chain three putted it too often! The family run resort of Pine Needles and Mid Pines is a throwback to when golf was a simpler game without the peripheral distractions that cluttermany resorts in the United States. After a round on either course, one is inspired rather than exhausted. Golf, as it was meant to be, indeed.