i’ve completely forgotten that coursehaving only been out there oncei remember 16 is uphillfrom running that laser up to the group in front lol– Grant Freitag, friend, and caddie for the week
Ahh the US Four Ball. We got lucky this past year for this the tournament. First was that our qualifier in the north was back at the end of September, which meant that my partner and I had the whole summer to get decent at golf rather than having to try to qualify in spring while rusty after time off from the winter. Second, this was the 3rd year of the event which meant that we got to play at Pinehurst, which was redesigned to host US Opens more often in recent and coming years.
Hosting the event at US Open courses was a great move by the USGA. The US Four Ball is a new event that took over the Pub Links (pour one out). As such, they got US Open courses to host the first 3 years of the event as a means of bringing the event legitimacy. We failed to qualify the first two years when the events were at the private clubs of Olympic Club and Winged Foot, but getting to play the public Pinehurst Resort, #8 and #2 turned out just as great.
This post is about #8, and it’s somewhat tough to describe the quality of the course. Am I supposed to give it a rating out of 5 stars? 10 stars? Compare the two Pinehurst courses and talk about which one I’d rather play? Talk about which course I’d rather play compared to the other courses I’ve reviewed? It’s a beautiful, decently tough, very great tournament course. If I’m picking a course I’d want to go play with friends who want to have some good bets, I’d pick this course.
Slightly off site from the other Pinehurst courses, which means more elevation change and a different feel. Classic Tom Fazio design which makes it and absolutely great course great to play.
This is the review for Pinehurst #8.
Different holes and big elevation change
lol I don’t want my quote at the beginning to make it seem like the course wasn’t memorableI was just so stressed that first 9 about not fucking up that I wasn’t exactly as focused on the course and each shot haha– Grant Frietag, after reading this review for the first time
There are two big things I like about courses. 1) Every hole and the routing is different, meaning that after a single round you’re able to remember what every hole is. You won’t have trouble recalling which hole was which. 1.5) I love elevation change, both because it’s fun to have to think about clubs to hit, but also because it makes it easier to remember each hole! If both of those things occur on a golf course, I’m a big fan, no matter the “quality” of the design.
Taking pics of the course and showing how easy it is to remember the hole difference is decently tough, so here are a bunch of pictures showing the fantastic elevation changes. Here we go!
Let’s start with the third hole. This is the approach shot up the giant hill to a green at which you can’t see the bottom of the pin. I didn’t take a picture of the drive on the hole which would show the elevation difference on the entire hole, but you can see the change here.
Here’s the instagram picture of the 4th hole I posted, a downhill iron approach shot after a downhill drive, where, if you have the correct aim point on the drive, you’ll shoot it down the fairway and have a wedge in.
We're out here for the 3rd annual US Amateur Four Ball. First practice round on course #8. Beautiful, classic Tom Fazio design. 4th green here, dogleg left par 4 where you can hit a big hammer draw and be in a perfect spot. Tough green though, which you'll also find a lot on Fazio designed courses. #golfonthemind
Moving on! Just because it’s a pretty picture that shows the trees that are around the course, this is a shot from just off the front tee of the par 5 6th hole (with a big uphill tee shot) up to the 8th green, a super long par 3 that was ranked the toughest hole on the course.
Here’s the uphill 16th hole, a par 4 back to the clubhouse before the stretch of 17 and 18 back and forth. Big uphill tee shot, and slightly less uphill approach shot. If you can see how uphill this picture is, just imagine the uphillness of the tee shot I didn’t take a picture of.
This is the par 4 17th hole, the converted par 5, with a downhill drive and slightly downhill second shot shown here. Difficult hole, not just because of the length, but also because the tough green that many par 5s have to prevent the easy birdies.
And finally, here’s the absolutely beautiful par 4 18th hole with trouble on both sides of the fairway which is uphill the whole way.
Quick note here, like many of the courses in existence, especially the old country clubs, the clubhouse does have the highest elevation on property. The routing of the course basically circles the hill, meaning that every course design on that land would have elevation change. However, the design of the holes on their own makes it simple to remember them separately.
Impossible to hit par 5s in two
In my game, I’m lucky enough to be able to hammer the golf ball, especially with driver. There are very rarely par 5s that I’m not able to hit in two (including the 600 yard par 5 10th hole on #2 in a practice round that I’ll talk about in that review). Out at #8, there are good reasons to not to go for two on the par 5s. Let me explain.
When you’re looking to hit a par 5 in two, the big key is that the area around the green is not dangerous, and is not incredibly difficult to get up and down compared to a normal wedge shot.
On the front 9, the two par 5s have similar looking greens. Check out the green here on the second hole, which is a giant downhill from right to left. Where do you miss your second shot with a 3 wood or 3 iron? Basically, it has to be dead straight. A miss to the right side makes an impossible up and down with the pins that the USGA throws out there for their tournaments.
I learned this in the practice round after trying to get near both of these greens. In the tournament, I laid up on both, and made birdie with a wedge and a 10 foot putt (which frankly, was the longest putt I made all week. Gotta make the putts).
On the back 9, the one par 5 is the 11th hole at 579 yards. Narrow fairway with trouble on both sides of the fairway if you have enough length to hit the hole in two, and then a long narrow green with issues to get up and down on both sides. This hole is reachable, but frankly a toss up with what is the easier shot to get up and down — laying up to under 100 yards and having a wedge in, or trying to pitch from around the greens, potentially from a bunker with giant lips.
Birdies are possible but not through purely overpowering the hole.
Greens split in 2 or 4
The great majority of the greens at Pinehurst #8 are very much like most of the Fazio designed courses. I remember back to playing the Fazio Wannamaker course at PGA National earlier in the spring time and basically every single green out there had the same form. The greens are split in either halves or quarters where each section breaks in different directions.
It is very easy to see this through pictures given the Bermuda greens and shine of the grain.
Look back up to number 4 on the instagram pic. Right side of the green slopes back to front, left to right. And the left part of the green slopes front to back and right to left.
Hole 5, a short par 3. I took a picture from the tee to the hole, but this is zoomed in so you can see the green better. Right front to back, left flatish and slopes to the left off the green.
How about the green on downhill par 4 6th hole? Same slopes that the 4th and 5th holes have.
And finally, here’s a close up pic of the 9th green. This picture shows the other types of greens on the Fazio designs. A single spot in the middle of the green, and the four quarters of the greens all slope in different directions.
Because of actually practicing in the practice round, I don’t have any more pictures of the greens at the course. But you can ask Mike how many greens are of this type on the course because I kept mentioning each time the green was of this type, probably so often it got annoying for him at some point. What can I say? I really like talking about course design!
Hmm, what else is there to say about Pinehurst Hashtag 8? In case you’re wondering, we ended up shooting +3 74 during the first round of the US Four Ball. Hit the ball decently, never hit one out of bounds or got lost in the woods, chipped really well and was able to get up and down from everywhere, even in short sided spots that I should have been smart enough to not get in on approach shots. However, making putts out there is really difficult and, as noted above, a 10 foot birdie was my longest made putt of the round. Reading greens correctly and precisely adjusting for the impact of the grain on the greens is crucial and not something us non-Bermuda playing northern folks are overly familiar with.
It doesn’t “seem” like a Pinehurst course because it’s not on the main part of property, but it’s definitely worth playing because of how great of a modern course it is.
Oh, and the sweet tea they have in the clubhouse isn’t as good as the Arizona Sweet Tea I can’t stop drinking. Not sure why, but just a note.