The best public courses in North Carolina featuring 3 of the Pinehurst 9

North Carolina

North Carolina stands out as one of the US states with the richest and deepest traditions in golf.

It is also home to a remarkable collection of courses both public and private.

Here we look at a sampling of a few of the best courses in the state.

Pinehurst No.2, No.4, No.8

If you are looking for the best public courses in the state of North Carolina and don’t want to travel far and wide then just go to Pinehurst.

Donald Ross designed Pinehurst No.2, the resort’s most well-known course, which debuted in 1907. Ross continued to refine the course until his death in 1948, and it is regarded as his greatest work.

Ross initially designed Pinehurst No.4, which is regarded as the Resort’s second-best course. However, a great deal has changed since then—so much so that the Resort no longer credits Ross as the course’s architect. Robert Trent Jones redesigned the course in 1973; Rees Jones revised it in 1982; and Tom Fazio shook things up again in 1999.

Fazio was wholly responsible for creating Pinehurst No.8, which is a strong challenger for that second place at the Resort. It debuted in 1996 to honour Pinehurst’s 100th anniversary. The course has several challenging green complexes and is a typical Fazio design that emphasises playability while also paying homage to Ross’s legacy.

While Pinehurst is considered a public course for full access to the array of facilities you must be either a member or a guest booked into the resort.

Tobacco Road Golf Club

With its Bermuda grass fairways and towering pines, Tobacco Road Golf Club captures the richness of North Carolina golf.

It is considered a somewhat left-field course that some have suggested borders on being gimmicky but for a day out in Stanford few have it matched.

The course has garnered positive reviews for everything from its technical elements to the warmness and helpfulness of the staff.

All 18 holes of the course are considered to be signature holes which ensures that nothing beats the first time at Tobacco Road Golf Club.

Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club

Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club is the ideal golf getaway, located only a short distance from the Village of Pinehurst and historic downtown Southern Pines.

Pine Needles is well-known for its excellent golf teaching, welcoming atmosphere, and spotless Donald Ross course, living up to its status as an exceptional sanctuary.

The award-winning golf course at Pine Needles is the first in the country to have staged US Women’s Open Championships four times.

The course, which Golfweek ranked as the fourth best in the state, was created by the renowned Donald Ross in 1927 and painstakingly renovated by Kyle Franz in 2017.

Southern Pines Golf Club

Southern Pines Golf Course, one of Donald Ross’s first distinct course designs, opened for play in 1906. The course boasts some of the most stunning golf topography in the Sandhills, winding around a series of knolls and ridges.

It’s hard to tell where Ross’s design begins and nature’s ends and this remarkable 6,500-yard course tests players at every skill level.

Southern Pines Golf Club is open to members, visitors, and the general public. Its busiest times of year are from mid-March to mid-May and mid-September to the end of October.

With the exception of some holidays and maintenance days, it is open seven days a week.

High Hampton Resort: High Hampton

High Hampton’s 18-hole course is as demanding as it is exciting, celebrating the thrilling play and deep character of traditional high-country golf. Reimagined as a par-71 championship course by renowned designer Tom Fazio, the course boasts breathtaking views of the mountains, natural charm, and exhilarating contours that add an element of mystery.

The redesign was completed after extensive study and consideration and is rightly considered a Fazio masterpiece.

Fazio, a native of North Carolina, refined play with more contemporary greens, fairways, and features while honouring the course’s heritage and beauty. The deep green bent grasses that extend from the tees to the greens are a standout feature, and there are at least five sets of tee boxes (with a total length varying from 7,000 to 4,500 yards) that guarantee exciting and challenging play for players of all ages and abilities.

Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club

Mid Pines Golf Course is a rare example of a Donald Ross masterwork remaining pretty much intact; it was established in 1921 by the renowned architect and meticulously renovated by Kyle Franz in 2013. The makeover was recognised with the Best US Resort makeover and Restoration of the Year award from GOLF Magazine.

Like Ross’s hallmark style, the course – often described as “pure Donald Ross” – was crafted to blend seamlessly into the surrounding environment.

Mid Pines was designed to be a friendly competition course for members and guests of a private club and resort, not a formidable test for the best players competing under championship circumstances.