Give or take a DeChambeau drive, it’s about 3,750 miles from the town of St. Andrews in the Kingdom of Fife to the village of Pinehurst in the sandhills of North Carolina. But what distance separates, golf connects.
St. Andrews and Pinehurst are often mentioned in the same breath as homes of the game in the Old World and the New, respectively, not least because both places don’t just embrace golf but rather seem to have grown organically around its finest canvases.
The village of Pinehurst is dominated by its eponymous resort, which can now boast more golf courses than Elizabeth Taylor could ex-husbands. There are nine standard courses, all numbered, and the most celebrated – the Richard Burton, if you like – is No. 2. It has hosted three U.S. Opens, a U.S. Women’s Open, a U.S. Senior Open, a PGA Championship, a Ryder Cup and three U.S. Amateurs. There isn’t another venue in golf that owns such a glittering resume.
When I first visited No. 2 about 15 years ago, much of its strategic charm was buried beneath sod. Its fairways were wall-to-wall grass, generous enough to land an aircraft without disturbing a pine cone. What little it demanded of players off the tee, it made up for around the famously crowned greens, where someone with a stonemason’s touch might ping-pong hither and yon for some time. To wit: A friend once shot an ignominious round of 121 at No. 2. With one ball!
A long season of change at Pinehurst began a decade ago, when No. 2 was restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. The duo ripped out 35 acres of turf, leaving native areas dotted with grass and scrub that not only returned long-lost playing angles to the old masterpiece but