Pinehurst Resort adding Tom Doak course. Here’s what will set it apart
courtesy pinehurst resort
Rumors of a 10th Pinehurst course, built by Tom Doak, began circulating in full late Monday after the resort’s Twitter and Instagram feeds teased a video montage of the Carolina Sandhills. Though many had seen the post, few realized the 16-second reel had sound with it: a Doak narration in which he spoke about the marriage of golf and sand as the perfect conditions for golf.
On Wednesday morning, Pinehurst Resort officially confirmed that Doak will indeed build a course for the resort four miles south of the main clubhouse on a 900-acre parcel. Referring in part to the land’s 75 feet of elevation changes, Doak said, “The site is topographically distinct and drastically different from anywhere in Pinehurst. It’s bigger, bolder and more dramatic.”
The site of the new course was once home to The Pit, a Dan Maples design, but Doak’s routing uses almost entirely undeveloped land. Doak and his team will work their way up to “mid-point of the layout,” he said, where, “you’ll have expansive views from this apex over the rest of the course.”
Doak said he currently has “eight or nine projects in construction” but when Pinehurst called him in May, “It’s the kind of job you can’t turn down.” He said the quick turnaround for permitting and construction is unheard of and that the site is ready to go except for tree removal. “We don’t have a lot of dirt to move around, like we do at most places,” he said. “We’ve also got a few places we could start shaping greens this week.”
The plan, he said, was for the course to be completely rough-shaped by May with detail work continuing through the summer and the course being planted by September. The resort does not plan to open the course until sometime near the 2024 U.S. Open, which will be at Pinehurst No. 2.
Doak said the accelerated timeline is due, in part, to a brief lull in his associates’ schedule and also the experienced staff and infrastructure already in place at the resort, namely, Bob Farren, director of golf maintenance, and Kevin Robinson, golf course maintenance manager. “You have guys who have built golf courses before — built golf courses for a living — and are on staff there,” he said. “They’ve been a huge help and they know where all the resources are locally to get things done.”
Leading the project for Doak will be Angela Moser, one of the few women in the design industry, but she’s no rookie. A veteran of many Doak projects, including St. Patrick’s in County Donegal, Ireland, as well as Te Arai Links, in New Zealand, which is set to open next fall. “She’s been with us for 12 years,” Doak said. “And she’s been ready to run her own project for the last three or four years.”
Moser said the notion that she is excited about the chance to build a course a Pinehurst is “an understatement. History has been made here and will be made here.” Of Doak’s routing, she said, “It takes you on a walk through the Sandhills and pits of Pinehurst. It has beautiful rolling terrain with some funkiness due to the old Pit course and a lake that will come into play. My favorite part is the long-range views that make you feel the place, the property and the terrain, and you think you are on top of the trees and the world.”
Many of the changes at Pinehurst, including the restoration of its No. 2 Course in 2014 and the much-heralded Gil Hanse rework of No. 4 in 2019 have been spurred by an increasingly competitive marketplace. Pinehurst president Tom Pashley said: “Having a Doak course at Pinehurst allows guests to play a course designed by one of the most creative golf minds of this generation. Some equate playing at Pinehurst to visiting a golf architecture museum. You get to experience some of the best work from different design eras when you come here.”
Given Pinehurst’s expanse of land, it seems only a matter of time before the resort will announce another addition to its double-digit roster. For now, though, it’s focused on what’s next, but always with an eye to the future.
“We’ve seen visitor preferences change over the last decade with the introduction of The Cradle and Thistle Dhu putting course,” Pashley said. “Fortunately, we waited to develop this property and can now offer more variety as we plan for the future.”