Sand and wiregrass have a
dramatic influence on the
12th hole at Pinehurst No. 2.
around hazards at the cost of a stroke,
were tightened considerably. And the long
rough not only eliminated recovery shots
but kept the errant drive from rolling into
more interesting jeopardy in the pines.
The current ownership hired golf architects
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to restore
No. 2, work they recently completed.
They’re known for creating highly regarded
courses like Bandon Trails in Oregon and
Sand Hills in Nebraska that seem to rise
organically out of the natural landscape.
“The reputation of Pinehurst was estab-
lished in its natural state,” said Coore.
“Once you got off the fairways, it was
wiregrass and hardpack sand. You might
roll up against the wiregrass, or you might
reach the pine needles, or you might have
a clear, firm lie. We wanted to restore the
Coore and Crenshaw studied old photo-
graphs and aerials of the course taken in
the 1940s. They removed untold acres of
Bermuda sod and replaced it with ... nothing.
“When you remove the grass, areas
expose themselves as sandy wasteland,
firmer, and evolution takes over,” Crenshaw
but a natural sandy soil.”
The No. 2 course at Pinehurst is Ross’s
masterwork. From his home alongside
what is now the course’s third hole, he
observed play over the grounds for 30
years before building its trademark greens
with their inverted-bowl shapes that
slough off indifferent approach shots. The
strategic heart of the course is in those
greens, which are best approached from
specific angles. The fairways are meant to
be wide, and the greens almost always
offer a way to bounce the ball onto the
surface. This makes Pinehurst No. 2 that
rare course that can hold a major champi-
onship, yet be played and enjoyed by the
After the 1960s, however, Pinehurst was
sold to a company whose primary interest
was in real-estate development, and No. 2
entered a period of misguided renovation.
The sandy areas that lined the fairways
were replaced with Bermuda-grass rough,
and over the next few decades that rough
came more and more into play. Fairways
that were once generous, in keeping with
Ross’s belief that a good golf hole should
give the weaker golfer a way to play