Pinehurst. The name itself oozes golf history, iconic courses and the best architects in our game, beginning with the legendary Donald Ross. On Episode 118 of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast (presented by 2UNDR.com, use promo code GNN20 to save 20 percent on your order), hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch share their first impressions of the stellar “retrovation” that architect Gil Hanse and his team have accomplished on the Pinehurst No. 4 course, and discuss how it and Hanse’s short course, The Cradle, fit into the exciting modernization of the entire Pinehurst Resort destination.
Darin leads off with a recap of his recent visits to Pinehurst over the past few years in which he has played a variety of courses at the resort, including the famed No. 2 as well as the recently restored (and wonderfully short-ish) No. 3, plus touches on his feelings about The Cradle short course and the enormous new putting course Thistle Dhu — all the while offering up ideas for travelers looking to create the perfect Pinehurst day trip.
Mitch then briefly dives into the history of Pinehurst, discussing why he feels the new additions to the resort have energized both the destination and his personal love for this American Home of Golf. He covers the list of great architects that have worked on Donald Ross’ 1919 No. 4 course over the years, which leads into a discussion of how Gil Hanse’s brilliant work has brought the course into the modern age while emphasizing its ties to the original Ross design. Darin and Mitch then detail the different features of No. 4 and explain how the variety of holes adds up to a fun experience for golfers looking to cross the new layout off their bucket lists.
Then it’s on to a broader discussion about The Cradle — and why this nine-hole track (also from the mind of Mr. Hanse) finds itself on the growing list of must-play short courses that are changing the way golfers view the game throughout the United States. From getting maximum value by playing the routing more than once if possible to the strategy of the green complexes and often-surprising challenge of a course this short, Darin and Mitch conclude The Cradle should be on any Pinehurst itinerary — and suggest some extra time to enjoy the The Pinecone beverage cart, which just might be the best on-course cart they’ve ever seen (yes, it actually opens up into a full bar).
Mitch then extols the virtues of The Holly Inn hotel experience, describing its long history and explaining why it might be the best choice for lodging in Pinehurst Village. Darin shares his remembrances of the iconic Carolina Hotel, and then highly recommends spending some time soaking in the ambiance of the Pinehurst clubhouse where history (make sure to snap a pic with the Payne Stewart statue), one-of-a-kind views off the back porch (cheer the players putting for birding on the famed No. 2 course’s 18th hole) and newly renovated The Deuce restaurant and bar elevate the Pinehurst experience to even higher levels.
Mitch closes the episode with a mention of the newly opened Pinehurst Brewing Company, built on the site of the former Steam Company (opened in 1895), and explains why he believes Brewmaster Eric Mitchell, the food offerings and the location in the Village make this fantastic new “hang spot” a welcome game-changer for the Pinehurst food-and-beverage scene.