Sunday, 2 January 2011

Pinehurst #2

The 8th Hole

Well, another course that I have played a couple of times and walked once backwards too.

The “deuce” is one of my favorite designs for its ability to get the weaker player around with the width between tree lines, light rough and limited amounts of bunkers in play. The higher handicap is unlikely to lose a ball and quite likely to find the occasional par to make a very memorable round.

The quality of the deuce is its ability to ratchet up the pressure and difficulty on a better player. The greens are the course and probably the only reason that the deuce is held in high esteem. Many people think the deuce is ugly and boring, since the crowned greens are supposedly repetitive. Well I certainly don’t agree. Each crown comes at different heights and many have to be engaged with different types of shots to remain on the surface. For example you must run it into #2, while you have to fly it into #9. A running draw (for me – the lefty) helps at #11, whereas a delicate pitch is required at #12. The course can not be broken down to domed greens that are hard to hit where a player has lots of chipping; that is selling the course far too short.

The 9th Hole
I went to see if the course was too hard and the greens were too fast for a reasonable game. I found out the course is kept at 9 feet for resort play, which means the greens would rarely be out of control. They are still very challenging even at 9 feet. Yes the crowns are severe, and yes I did putt into a bunker after hitting a green in regulation; but there is nothing there that can not be managed with smart play. My personal issue was a horrendous read of a putt combined with a frightening pin position.

The things that I had forgotten from a previous trip were how incredibly difficult the par 3’s are. The 15th green has only about 2,500 sq.ft. of “real” green to pin. They were all exceptionally good holes. I also forgot how truly plain the deuce is, while brilliant in design, the course is fairly benign until you get close to the greens.

Still, the deuce is a great model for a public course. Hard to lose a ball, lots of room through out the round, very little difficult maintenance, lots of alternate options to hitting shots, encourages the ground game, rewards only a thinker, and test the putting skills. Great architecture - when put in that context. She ain’t pretty – but she is nearly perfect.

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