Field guide: Go inside Pinehurst Resort, the cradle of American golf

April 16, 2020
Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C.

As GOLF’s chief photographer and visual editor, Christian Hafer visits some of the most gorgeous and exclusive golf courses and properties in the world. Here, in his Field Guide, he’ll take you along for the ride. Lucky for us, Christian never leaves home without his camera.

Down south sits one of the most historic — and arguable important — collection of courses in America. “The Cradle” of American golf, Pinehurst Resort, has hosted 10 majors, including three U.S. Opens. It has nine 18-hole courses with 19 architects tied to them, and even a nine-hole par-3 course and a 15,000-square foot putting green.

On any given day you’ll see guests marching down the 1st fairway of Pinehurst No. 2, junior tournaments teeing off No. 7, eight-somes looping The Cradle (the par-3 course) or kids running around Thistle Dhu (the putting course). On paper, Pinehurst’s scale might seem daunting, but it’s as welcoming as any small-town muni. Everything is within walking distance or easily accessible via a quick shuttle. Plus, once you get to the main clubhouse, you’re likely not leaving until your feet can’t carry you anymore.

A view of Pinehurst No. 4.
A view of Pinehurst No. 4.
Christian Hafer

There’s plenty to love about every course. At only 5,200 yards, Pinehurst No. 3 was reworked by Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and associate Kyle Franz, making it an even better challenge despite its length. No. 4 was recently overhauled by Gil Hanse, his team bringing an ambitious plan to the property that completely shifted the identity of the course and, in a few ways, Pinehurst itself. The new-look No. 4 is much closer to No. 2 post-renovation than anything else on property, but it stands on its own. Built to challenge the best and entertain the casual players, the experience on No. 2 is unrivaled, and it’s also walkable, like most of them. (If my time was limited, I’d play Nos. 2, 3 and 4 and loop The Cradle after each.)

As for the best way to relax and reflect after each round? Pinehurst Brewery opened in 2018. The experience just got that much better.

Pinehurst No. 2.
Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

Pinehurst No. 2 first opened in 1907.
Pinehurst No. 2 first opened in 1907.
Christian Hafer

Pinehurst No. 4.
Pinehurst No. 4.
Christian Hafer

A tee box sign and green at Pinehurst No. 2.
A tee box sign and green at Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

One of the greens at Pinehurst No. 2.
One of the greens at Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

Christian Hafer

A green at Pinehurst No. 2.
A green at Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

The green of the 6th hole at Pinehurst No. 4.
The green of the 6th hole at Pinehurst No. 4.
Christian Hafer

A sandy view of one of the holes at Pinehurst No. 2.
A sandy view of one of the holes at Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

An overhead shot of Pinehurst No. 2.
An overhead shot of Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

An overhead view of one of the greens at Pinehurst No. 2.
An overhead view of one of the greens at Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

A look at the 16th green at Pinehurst No. 2.
A look at the 16th green at Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

A collection of holes from an overhead view of Pinehurst No. 2.
A collection of holes from an overhead view of Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

The 2nd hole at Pinehurst No. 4.
The 2nd hole at Pinehurst No. 4.
Christian Hafer

The 6th hole at Pinehurst No. 4.
The 6th hole at Pinehurst No. 4.
Christian Hafer

The 5th hole at Pinehurst No. 2.
The 5th hole at Pinehurst No. 2.
Christian Hafer

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