November 21, 2014
Originally I was supposed to play the Number 8 course on my second day at Pinehurst. But, a downpour led to me extending my golf trip by one day and rescheduling the round to my final day on the resort. All week, I had Pinehurst employees telling me it was generally considered the favorite course for employees to play. I heard from numerous employees that it was the embodiment of the "Pinehurst Spirit." After playing it, I understand why.
After playing the other eight courses over a week, one would think they might start blending together. They don't. That is what makes Pinehurst Resort an exceptional and special golf vacation. All nine courses are unique and memorable in their own way. Number 8 was challenging but fun. It had quite a few, very interesting holes and not one really boring hole. It was my second favorite course of the nine and an exceptional way to finish my trip. The Centennial Course was opened, in part, to help commemorate 100 years of golf at Pinehurst. From talking with the employees in the pro shop, they really wanted Number 8 to encompass everything that's represented by golf at Pinehurst Resort. One thing that really stood out during my round is there are no real estate interferences or distractions. Number 8 is definitely a course for the purist, for the golfer, of whatever skill level, who wants to experience the game as it was intended to be played - for the sheer sport of it. In my opinion, they succeeded in capturing the essence of what Pinehurst is all about and it is likely one of the top reasons most employees at Pinehurst will advise it is their favorite course.
My last day at Pinehurst was cold - bitterly cold. It was 28 degrees when I teed off. One thing about a clear day in November is that it makes terrific photos but it also likely means the temperature has fallen a good bit. And that is exactly what happened after the rain showers earlier in the week. It wasn't the coldest day I played (the round at Number 9 was 22 degrees at tee off), but it made me thankful I had purchased a skull cap and winter golf gloves.
Pinehurst Number 8 is located off-site and is a five minute shuttle ride from the Carolina Hotel. The course is a Tom Fazio design and was opened in 1996. If you go into Number 8 expecting it to rival Number 2, you will, of course, be disappointed. Instead, go into the round looking forward to a different kind of Pinehurst golf. The large wetland areas on the back nine cannot be found anywhere else at Pinehurst, and the course is strengthened because of the presence of those wetlands.
Even though Pinehurst Number 8 doesn't have a hole ranked among the top 500 holes in the world, it does have some interesting bits of trivia surrounding it. It served as the site of the former Pinehurst Gun Club, where sharp-shooter Annie Oakley would hold demonstrations during her visits. It was the first golf course in North Carolina to achieve Audubon Certified Signature Sanctuary. There are only 30,000-35,000 rounds played annually, and most fairways do not play parallel or close to one another, so the course really feels like it's yours for the day in most spots. Now let's look at some photos and a few brief comments about each hole.
There are five sets of tee boxes at Number 8. From back to front, they are gold, blue, white, green, and red. As I am not a long hitter, I opted to play from the white tee boxes and all measurements are from that tee box.
|A look down the fairway from the 1st tee box.|
|A look into the 1st green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 2nd tee box.|
|A look into the 2nd green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 3rd tee box.|
|A look into the 3rd green from 50 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 4th tee box.|
|A look into the 4th green from 100 yards out.|
Avoiding the bunker in the front of this green makes club selection important on this deceptively difficult par 3. This green slopes from back-to-front and right-to-left.
|A look onto the green from the 5th tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 6th tee box.|
|A look towards the 6th green from 300 yards out.|
|A closer look at the left-side fairway bunker.|
|A look into the 6th green from 120 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 7th tee box.|
|A look into the 7th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look into the green from the 8th tee box.|
|A closer look from the tee box.|
|A closer look at the green.|
|A look down the fairway from the 9th tee box.|
|A look towards the green from 200 yards out.|
|A look into the 9th green from 100 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 10th tee box.|
|A look towards the green from 200 yards out.|
|A look into the 10th green from 125 yards out.|
|A look into the 11th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 12th tee box.|
|A look into the 12th green from 100 yards out.|
|A look into the 12th green from 65 yards out.|
|A look into the green from the 13th tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 14th tee box.|
|A look into the 14th green from 100 yards out.|
|A closer look at the 14th green.|
This par 3 plays a little downhill but the deep green and unpredictable winds will require proper club selection. The right green-side bunker and marsh will catch any shots fading to the right. Shots slightly miss hit to the left will receive a generous kick back toward the green.
|A look into the green from the 15th tee box.|
|A look back at the 15th green from the 16th tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 16th tee box.|
|A look into the 16th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look at the green from just off the right side.|
|A look down the fairway from the 17th tee box.|
|A look towards the green from the top of the landing area.|
|A look into the 17th green from 120 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 18th tee box.|
|A look onto the 18th green from 50 yards out.|
Overall, my experience at Pinehurst Number 8 rounded out a simply fantastic trip to Pinehurst Resort. If you have the time, I definitely recommend playing Number 8 multiple times during your visit. It truly stands out as unique from any other course at the resort. Added to that, that there are no houses or other developed real estate, it really does lend to the specialness of the place and is a great way to start and finish a visit to Pinehurst. It probably should be ranked higher than #96 on public courses in the U.S., and with additional tournaments added to it, I believe it will eventually move up to the mid-60s.