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How To Enjoy Pinehurst Without Breaking The Bank

Mar 15, 2008
Pinehurst is regarded as the birthplace of golf in North America. Because of the long history associated with championship golf in the Pinehurst area, most golfers are very familiar with Pinehurst #2, Pine Needles or Mid-Pines. This article uncovers some of the other great and challenging golf courses in the Pinehurst area that you can play at affordable prices.

My group has been going to Pinehurst for the better part of 10 years, and we recently completed our 7th golf trip to Pinehurst. Once again I am left amazed at the overall value of a Pinehurst golf vacation, and the tranquility and peace that I experience every time I go there.

I live on a limited budget (what with a wife, 3 teen-agers, etc.) so playing Pinehurst #2 at $375 is out of my league. But that doesn't hinder getting a great golf vacation experience if the only thing I do at #2 is go in the clubhouse. Far from it, as a matter of fact!

This year we played 6 rounds of golf in 4 days, stayed in a very nice condo overlooking Pinehurst #5, and spent less than $500 total including golf, carts, condo, and food (and beer of course!) - all during the fall peak season. We played outstanding courses that always seem to be mostly empty, made a lot of memories that will last a lifetime, and escaped to a place that you can only understand if you've been there.

After our rounds we were able to walk down history's path by making side trips to the Pinehurst #2 pro shop (where you could spend the whole day), and having dinner at the Carolina Inn (highly recommended). Both of these historic places define the Pinehurst area, and take you back to a time when things were much simpler than today. It's really easy to imagine the members of an elite society of 100 years ago, strolling about the grounds at Pinehurst. The history in Pinehurst is pervasive, and there is no way to escape it.

So here is the recap of the courses we played, and my personal rating of the overall experience:

- Mid-South (in Pinehurst) - This is a fine old-style, classic Arnold Palmer course that has recently been refurbished. I had heard good things about this course, but until this year have never played there. It probably is the toughest course I have played in the Pinehurst area, and features many difficult par 4's that all seem to play uphill. I hit a lot of mid-to-long irons into the par 4's, something that usually does not bode well for my score. Although I played poorly, Mid-South will definitely be on our list to play again in the future. My rating would be (4-stars out of 5).

- The Carolina (in Pinehurst) - We first played this course about 10 years ago when it first opened, but for some reason have not returned. Our whole group had positive memories from The Carolina (another Arnold Palmer design) so we decided to play 36 holes there when we booked our trip. What a great experience! First, the course always seems to be empty and the conditions were fantastic. To me, The Carolina symbolizes everything about Pinehurst - wetlands, rolling hills, stately pine trees, sand everywhere, lots of abundant wildlife and overall tranquility. This is a course you must surely play. My rating is *** (3 stars out of 5).

- Tobacco Road (in Sanford) - If you haven't played Tobacco Road, grab your golf clubs, your camera and some back packing equipment, and head on down. Tobacco Road is like a wild roller coaster ride and you will be talking about this course for years. Tobacco Road is cut out of an old sand quarry, and is much like desert golf in that there are strips of green in the midst of a vast expanse of sand. Tobacco Road is very much a target golf course where you have to hit it in the right spot to have any chance. For whatever reason, I shot my best round of the week (76) on Tobacco Road, which has a slope rating of 141. I have played Tobacco Road 5-6 times now, and it's one of my favorites, although there are some who do not like it. I recommend that you give it a try at least once just for the visual beauty that it provides, and the uniqueness that you will never see anywhere else. My rating is (4 stars out of 5).

- Longleaf (in Pinehurst) - Another beautiful, well-maintained golf course in the Pinehurst area. Longleaf is built on an old horse farm where some of the original equestrian structures still exist. A nice class-style layout, Longleaf is very playable for most golfers. We have played there twice now, and the condition of the golf course is always top notch. On any other golf trip to other places, Longleaf would be a favorite. But in the midst of so many great golf courses in Pinehurst, it is simply average. My rating is *** (3 stars out of 5).

Pinehurst golf packages are available from several travel brokers. The two brokers we have used are Maples Golf and The Golf Group. When you book your Pinehurst golf package, ask about the many other courses that are available for play in and around Pinehurest, for example Talamore Golf Club (in Pinehurst), The Legacy Golf Course (in Pinehurst), The Pit (in Pinehurst), Whispering Pines (in Sand Pines), and many more.

In my opinion Pinehurst provides the best golfing value for your dollar. And unless you've been there, the history, the peace and the tranquility of Pinehurst is difficult to understand. So, pack your grabs and come to Pinehurst for a truly great golfing experience.
About the Author
Hugo is a long time golfer, playing for 40 years in and around NC. A former collegiate golfer, Hugo doesn't hit it as far or as straight as he used to, but enjoys the game more than ever. Please visit NC Online Golf. Hugo also enjoys website design, and has built out several successful websites: Antique Clocks Online, and Online Boat Trader.
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