The Original Pinehurst No. 3

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Their championship was played over No. 2 course, 100 yards shorter than No. 3, though the par is the same, 71. The latter course except for its sand greens, differs little from a finely laid out northern course. Fine turf, natural rolls, woods, ponds make it very sporty, call for all the shots and make it a pleasure to play. – Golf Illustrated 1920

old

This third course was rightfully considered the peer of No. 2 for a great number of years. However, the esteem for this course began to wane as the middle of the century approached.

Why?

The primary reason was spectacular nature of the North-South Open. As No. 3 reached a suitable level of conditioning the establishment wasted absolutely no time incorporating it into this major tournament. And for many years half of the tournament was held there. But time moves along and with it Ross concentrated his artistry more and more on turning No. 2 into his quintessential statement.  After all, Ross literally lived on the course. It was the first thing he saw from his porch in the morning and the last thing he viewed in daylight as he walked home from his labors. Due to this profound level of immersion with the course there was a symbiotic relationship which none of his others shared.

No. 2 has always been a pet of mine. In building these fine new greens, I’ve been able to carry out many of the changes which I have long visualized but only now have been able to put into practice. – Donald Ross

And so, in time, the North-South became entirely held on No. 2. This also happened to coincide with an era when several of golf’s immortals were waging golfing battles on the most supreme of levels. The mythic nature of these competitions fully captured the imagination of the sporting public – and No. 2 became entrenched in the popular imagination.

If you ask the average American golfer what is the best course today the majority are going to say Augusta. Not Cypress Point or Pine Valley or Sand Hills. The average American golfer may very well not even know those courses. It’s a matter of familiarity bred through repeated exposure with glowing words from what suffices as punditry. And when you add a rich layer of extraordinary matches by the best technicians in the world the spell is entire and complete. They are going to be more enamoured with the 16th at Augusta than they are the 16th at Cypress. The fact that the jagged edge which hangs so precipitously over the Pacific is light years superior does not matter. A story has been told and the primacy of a compellingly told story pays little heed to authenticity.

These were the primary factors which led No. 2 to gather an appreciation which far surpassed the course across the street. Had the situation been reversed No. 3 would have been viewed in an entirely different light. The truth of the matter is that at its height No. 3 was an extremely fine course – and to this day has never gotten the recognition it has deserved.

Although today’s modified version still provides a sporty and worthwhile run for the contemporary golfer, if it played in contemporary days as it did at its peak it would most assuredly be somewhere among the upper tier  in the golf rich state.

The original 14th (today's 7th) during an early North-South competition.

The original 14th (today’s 7th) during an early North-South competition.

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