Our favorite public course we played in 2021: A day at Pinehurst No. 2

At GOLF.com, our hobby is also our job. That means, just like you, we spend much of the year teeing it up high, swinging hard and trying to avoid double bogeys as much as possible. But some courses we stumble upon are simply more memorable than others. Here, in a breakdown of our favorite public courses our staff played over the last 12 months, are those spots.

Pinehurst Resort is a bucket-list golf destination, and for good reason. There are nine courses to choose from, first-rate lodging, delicious dining, a quaint village, the list goes on.

Course No. 2 is also one that lives large in our collective imaginations. We’ve seen plenty of it on TV, in recent men’s and women’s U.S. Opens, and as the USGA’s first anchor site, we’ll be seeing plenty more of it in the years to come.

It’s the course every guest itches the to play when they step foot on the property, in the same way that visitors to Monterey flock to Pebble Beach.

My trip to Pinehurst for GOLF’s Top 100 Teachers Summit in November was notable for me in a couple of different ways. It was the first time I’d traveled for work since the pandemic began, and the first time I’d seen colleagues in person in more than two years.

It was also the first time I’d had an opportunity to play golf on successive days in years. With two young kids at home, I’m not getting out nearly as much as I used to (though I’ve been trying to keep my game sharp in other ways) so it was a real treat to not only play, but play at such an iconic destination with people I’ve really missed.

November’s round marked the first time I’d seen the course since Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw completed their acclaimed restoration in 2011, and now I totally get what all the hype is about.

Rare is the course that can challenge the pros but also maintain its sense of resort playability. Such is the case with Pinehurst No. 2. It’s tough, no doubt about that — those undulating greens are no joke! But it’s eminently playable. You’re hard-pressed to lose a ball, and the sandy scrub, while certainly penal, isn’t the death you think it would be.

Pinehurst No. 4 Hole 13
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By: Jessica Marksbury

The other thing I loved about the experience was the walk. Once my college days were over, so too were my over-the-shoulder bag-schlepping days, I decided. I have been happy to take a cart for just about every round in my adulthood.

But the collection of push-carts at the starter’s hut on the first tee intrigued me. I’d never used one before. Pull carts? Yeah, been there, done that. But never the push! The weather was great — a little chilly, so I thought walking would do me good. I went for it, and wow. Push carts are amazing! The ride was smooth as butter and there were plenty of compartments for headcovers, drinks, snacks, you name it. I think I’m a convert for life!

Also, despite the fact that we were told the walk around No. 2 clocks in at around seven miles, the terrain is relatively flat and feels great on the feet. No body aches to speak of in the immediate aftermath or the next day. What a win!

The best part, though, was finishing the round in the magic evening hours, when the air gets brisk and the sun filters through the towering pines. It was heavenly. Special. I can’t wait to go back.

Jessica Marksbury
Golf.com

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.