Pinehurst Resort's Centennial Course Number 8 -- Take the 'Pinehurst Spirit' Home With You

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos By Kevin Gaydosh

PINEHURST, NC -- Practically every step you take at Pinehurst Resort exudes golf.  You could literally spend hours just walking down the hallway of the main clubhouse, reading the news clippings from tournaments long past, examining the photos from decades of golf's greatest players having teed it up there, or even pausing in silent reflection at the honorarium to Payne Stewart and his 1999 US Open victory.

Pinehurst Resort -- The Home of Golf

So it may be surprising to hear that the best place to find the 'Pinehurst Spirit' could actually be located away from the main resort center -- because the 'spirit's' true home is found at Pinehurst's Centennial Course Number 8.

Waste areas and wildflowers flank the 464 yard, par four 4th hole. It's a good thing the second shot plays downhill.

Jim Lynn, Course 8's Head Golf Professional, explains:  "Even though Course 8 is a short drive away from Course 2 and the main club, and the whole 'feel' you get over there -- you'll walk these grounds and get the same sort of atmosphere on this property.  Seeing as this is the Centennial Course, commemorating 100 years of golf at Pinehurst, we really wanted it to encompass everything that's represented by golf here at the resort.  I think we've done it."

Lynn continues, "Our mission is to make it somebody's club for the day.  There're lots of great golf courses out there, but we want folks to enjoy the experience at Course 8 from the moment they step off the van to the instant they depart.  We want them to leave with more than 'I just played a golf course.'  We want them to take away the 'Pinehurst Spirit.'"


For those fearing the supernatural, you may want to avoid tripping to Course 8 -- but then again, the 'spirit' that Lynn's referring to probably doesn't rattle chains, croon repetitive ditties or make things go bump in the night.

It's a grand sight from the 18th tee, with the clubhouse on top of the hill -- and the carry is milder than it looks.

It's hard to fathom that you'll get the same 'spirit' from all the golf courses at Pinehurst, but you certainly will.  And Course 8 just might be the layout that takes all the elements and puts them into one composite mixture.

Golf Architect Tom Fazio designed Course 8, and says they really wanted to make the course distinctive:  "We knew from the start that Course 8 would be different from Pinehurst's other seven courses, simply from the fact it wouldn't be part of the main resort center, but also because there would be no residential component to it."

"Don Padgett, Pat Corso and the rest of the folks at Pinehurst thought they'd like to build another course to celebrate Pinehurst's 100th year, one that would appeal to resort guests primarily visiting to play Course 2 (Course 4 hadn't yet been renovated at that time, and the other 'off property' courses were part of residential developments), and the new facility would be closed to member play.  They wanted Course 8 to have a bit of the Pinehurst 'look,' so we went in with the goal of building the best layout we possibly could to fit that particular piece of land," Fazio said.

That piece of real estate was formerly the resort's gun club property, and was already fairly wide open, with its own connections to history.  Famous markswoman Annie Oakley once taught her craft there, and it seemed like the perfect place to put the 'Centennial' golf course -- to shoot birdies of a different sort.

The short par four 3rd hole moves back up the hill -- and there's plenty of room to let the driver do its work.

Because there'd already been some shootin' goin' on (we actually found a piece of a shattered clay bird in a wooded area), the land's open nature was well suited for conversion to a golf course, including rolling terrain with pine trees, some already existing water bodies, and large sandy areas that were made into the waste areas that define the course.

Fazio says those areas were both natural, and created:  "The waste areas that you see today weren't naturally exactly like that, but that sandy acreage had tendencies towards making them look as they do now.  Being in the sand hills, with sand being a semi-dominant feature, it seemed logical to do that -- a practical way to use the sand as your frame."


Frame?  For what?

The short par four 12th hole is handicapped easiest on the course. But if you're not accurate with your tee and second shots, par will be mighty hard to find.


"What we try to do when designing golf courses is create frames and distinctive memorability to the golf holes we're envisioning.  It's a little bit like the paintings you'd view in an art gallery -- sometimes, if you put the wrong kind of frame on certain pieces, it won't look very good.  Then, if you put some other kind of frame on it, it'll make all the difference," Fazio explained.

'The Artist,' sometimes known as Tom Fazio, continues, "So we thought sand in the Sand Hills, with both waste areas and sand bunkers, would give Course 8 its own character, because you're blending it with the grass, trees and pine needles, which looks all the same.  You can use the sand to create different shades of color, and vary the contour of the shape and the elevations of it, which adds another design element."

Blend in some Pinehurst style greens, and you've summonsed the 'Pinehurst Spirit,' along with a distinctive looking golf course.  Fazio said they added slight roll-offs and collection areas around the greens -- not quite as severe as you'll see on Course 2, but following the character that the land presented, so the course stands on its own.

Not much room to run it up on the par five 2nd hole. If you're going for it in two, you've got to hit it high and land it soft with a fairway metal. Good luck.

Lynn says that Course 8 definitely stands out, in positive ways:  "One of the neat things about putting this course here, was, Fazio didn't have to move much dirt to make it look as it does -- we just took some trees out here and there to build the holes.  The land was perfect -- it has the elevation changes like Course 7, and you still have room to drive the ball, but not as much as at Course 2."

"And although the putting surfaces are larger than Course 2, you also have to remember, with the greens sloping towards collection areas, you really can't use 100% of the surface to aim at.  You may be looking at a 7,000 square foot green, but when they're firm and rolling, you're only able to play to about 65% of the green.  That adds an extra degree of difficulty to challenge and please you, to go along with the course's aesthetic attributes," Lynn added.

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it's one of the reasons why Course 8 has become so popular, according to Lynn.  "Course 2 is, and will always be, the greatest golf course at Pinehurst -- because of the brilliance of the design, but also its history and tradition.  You can't take that away, it's fact.  But a large percentage of our resort guests actually prefer playing this golf course, because its aesthetic value makes it a little different than the others."

"You stand on the tee, and it's very pretty.  You've got your waste areas, you've got a little bit of water, you've got some wetlands out there, so it looks very natural (along those lines, it's an Audubon International Facility).  It's also very player friendly, with room to drive the ball, no out-of-bounds, and the forced carries are just not very long," Lynn said.

The most difficult carry is at the par three 8th hole, but there's plenty of room to bail left.


"There really isn't any water that average handicappers have to worry about -- and that's the majority of folks playing here.  They're not going to come out here and lose six or eight golf balls in a round of golf, then go home disappointed," Lynn quipped.

Maybe it's because the 'Spirit' is with them along the way.

A final note before describing a couple highlight holes, is the notion that Pinehurst 8 may have the look and feel of Pinehurst, yet is definitely not a carbon copy of the Donald Ross style.  Fazio wouldn't have it any other way:  "A lot of folks asked when we were building it whether we were trying to copy or replicate Ross's work on Course 2.  After you've done as many courses as I have, you want to create distinctive, unique, original ideas for every project you work on.  Like most artists, you don't want to copy what other artists have done."

There's nothing easy about the par five 6th hole. From here, you've got nearly 600 yards left, and you'll need to be accurate, too.

"Why did the Renaissance produce so many unique, different, great paintings?  Because the artists just got tired of generating the same kinds of paintings over the centuries -- so they created something totally different.  That was our thinking going into Course 8," Fazio said.

Hole highlights include number six, a bruising 604 yard, uphill par five.  Most par fives are three-shotters for nearly all amateur golfers, but this one would challenge even the longest hitting pros to reach it in two.  All but the farthest forward tee box are shooting slightly uphill off the tee, having to carry a pond and wetlands.  Even the second shot is challenging, as bunkers guard the left side of the landing area, and a large pine tree protects right.  Not to be outdone, if you're over the green with your third shot, you've got an extremely challenging chip to a crowned green.

The eighth hole is a beautiful par three.  238 yards from the back, it's nearly a full wetland carry if you're looking to hit the green -- but there's an option to bail to the left and short if you haven't got the 'spirit' to fly it there.  If you miss right, you're either in a very large and deep bunker, or reloading for another try at it (or heading to the drop area).

On the back nine, the fourteenth hole is an interesting, dogleg left par four.  From the tee, there's a large pond to your front, with a bunker to aim at and trees in the distance for any ball struck a bit long and off-line.  Pay attention to the signs suggesting distances from the tee -- most people probably aim too far to the right and end up in the trees.  Take it from someone who's been there.


The 447 yard, par four eighteenth hole concludes the round, and hardly fails to provide a dramatic finish.  Lynn describes it:  "I really like the finishing hole, because it's a beautiful setting with the clubhouse up on the hill in the background, and it's also a tough challenge to conclude the course.  You've got to watch your placement off the tee, as any shots too far to the right will have to contend with a large pine tree on their approach.  A difficult hole, but still very fair -- and memorable."

You'd expect nothing less from a course commemorating Pinehurst's 100-year anniversary.  It must've been a tough task to create a layout comparing favorably with the legends of the past, yet making the resort guests of the present feel comfortable and satisfied.  Certainly enough to inspire a bit of 'spirit' in everyone -- just the type you'll want to take with you on your journey home.


Pinehurst's Centennial Course Number 8
1 Carolina Vista
Village of Pinehurst, NC 28374

Reservations: (800) 487-4653


Course Designer: Tom Fazio
Head Golf Professional: Jim Lynn
Pinehurst Resort is owned and operated by ClubCorp.














5805/122 (L)

72.5 (L)





We strongly recommend that you consult the website and/or call the above number for package prices and availability, since you'll receive significant discounts over individual daily rates.

Related Links   Comments on this article?
Maryland National Golf Club
Hollow Creek Golf Club
Rocky Gap Resort
PB Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville
Whiskey Creek Golf Club
E-mail Jeff Rendall, Editor: