Classic or contemporary? No. 4 course at Pinehurst Resort offers a little of both
PINEHURST, N.C. - The fourth golf course in a succession of eight at Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst No. 4 ranks as the newest.
Constructed in 1919 by Donald Ross as the last of his four Pinehurst golf courses, it was entirely rebuilt in conjunction with the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. No. 4 officially re-debuted in 2000.
Tom Fazio's imprint extends throughout Pinehurst Resort, from his work with uncle George on the No. 6 course to his solo design at No. 8. No. 4 was a complete rebuild project. Tom Fazio utilized most of the routing from Ross' original, but not much else.
In today's form, the host of the 2008 U.S. Amateur stretches to 7,117 yards. The golf course, especially in comparison to No. 1 and No. 3, feels much more contemporary than a 1919 venue.
That said, Fazio valued the venue's traditional qualities.
Greens and tees remain close, and like No. 2 - which borders No. 4 to the north and west - only a few rows of Carolina pines separate most holes. It remains a great walking course, even with the the added shape and undulation in the land.
Fazio also maintained or amplified Ross' crowned greens, keeping them small and often tough to hit. If you miss the green, it's even more difficult to get up and down. And while Fazio moved a lot of dirt to leave No. 4 much more undulating than No. 2, it certainly doesn't look like a golf course built at the hands of a bulldozer.
More than 150 bunkers litter the golf course - some so small it's tough to take a comfortable stance. I learned the hard way.
No. 4 also features a Pinehurst rarity and the most dramatic part of the golf course, the largest water hazard among five courses that share the resort's main clubhouse. The other four include little water presence.
The par-4 13th hole wraps around to the left of the large pond, and the par-3 14th plays over it.
A small inlet also winds in front of No. 4, a downhill par 3. And when the azaleas bloom behind the green, it's as much a classic beauty as any hole in the Southeast.
This pond represents the lone water hazard on the golf course. Otherwise, the hazards are waste bunkers. You'll find more them in transition areas leading into pine trees that cover the right side of the par-5 seventh hole and the left side of No. 18. In typical Fazio fashion, the finishing hole is a brawny par 4.
The No. 4 course at Pinehurst Resort: The verdict
Ross' original design at Pinehurst No. 4 underwent remodels in 1982 and 1973 by Rees Jones and Robert Trent Jones Sr., respectively, but Fazio's stamp, by far, ranks as the most significant.
Now, here's the big argument: What's the better second fiddle to U.S. Open host Pinehurst No. 2 - No.4 or Pinehurst No. 8? Similar shaping mark both Fazio designs. But No. 8 is a golf retreat, set on 450 acres and with few parallel fairways, making it a more exclusive experience.
No. 4, on the other hand, keeps you connected to the heart of golf country, playing out of the main clubhouse with four other courses as it winds through the thick of the resort's original grounds.
Like No. 1 through No. 7, No. 4 is a semi-private course that offers day-of-play, walk-on public access and golf packages that include accommodations and breakfast.
March 29, 2010