The Original Pinehurst No. 3

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Special interest centers in the new course which was generally enjoyed last season and which is now one of the most interesting, varied and picturesque courses in the south; its special charm being the fact that no two holes are alike. Some idea of its character may be obtained from the views printed in this issue. – Pinehurst Outlook 1910

As the antiquarian imagery which follows will give the reader varying impressions of the course, it may be worthwhile to note that, in this case, a judgement of its quality is not one which should be hastily rendered. Most of the black and white photos on this page are from 1909 – a year before it officially opened. Those images show the course in an almost primordial state. It would be difficult to derive an accurate read on how well the course ultimately played based on what is presented here. Also, some images pre-date a remarkable bunkering which was later added. Therefore, the purpose is largely to give the viewer a rare look from an historic perspective more than providing documents for assessment.

To give you an idea of the discrepancy of the primitive and the fully realized consider the images of the only hole Ross was known to have named: the 6th – “Cathedral”



The original 6th is now the 15th of No. 5 Course.



The first hole sat where today’s second hole resides. Also, it is reversed.

Courtesy of the Tufts Archives

Courtesy of the Tufts Archives

The second hole plays essentially as it did in early days. Only now, it is the second hole of No. 5. The downhill tee shot bends to the right with a moderately uphill approach – more uphill than it appears in the photo.

The 3rd hole originally played to a significantly downhill green. Curiously, Ross did that more than usual on the course. Perhaps lessons were learned about drainage because he largely avoided low lying greens with later designs. Later the green was moved up on the hill beyond – and the little pond left of it was expanded part way through the fairway. It still plays that way today.

The 5th hole was 221 yards and later received an artful bunkering which is still in play – as the 14th hole of No. 5 Course.

The 7th hole was another that featured a downhill green. The blind approach would have had to have been precise as the fairway hazard afforded little room for a run up. Without that hazard the golfer could have been careless with his second shot – just bounding the approach somewhere short of the green and letting it chase toward the green. Ross wasn’t keen on providing shots which did not require thought – especially the approach shots.

Here is what Ran Morrissett had to say about the original 8th hole:
That is an unbelievable bunker, both for its size and position and there is nothing else like it in the sandhills of Moore County. What a shame re: its loss! In fact, in studying it more and more, where else in the country does a bunker of such size/magnitude dominate a par five hole like this Hell version once did? Surely, some modern architects have successfully employed such a stratagem. What are the best examples?? Obviously, Old Mac’s 6th has a Hell Bunker but where else and how about one that plays on such a diagonal?

The 443 yard uphill 8th was easily one of the most interesting three shotters Ross ever did. Certainly, it is one of his best. The key being the second shot. The player had three options. Short right of the mammoth bunker, left or over.

The 9th (today’s 18th on No. 5) featured bunkering which came into play on the 1st hole as well. Below the 1st fairway is at the top with the 9th at the bottom.

The 9th finished just down the hill from the clubhouse.

Before turning our attentions to the inward nine let’s have a look at the rough hewn look from the earliest days.

The following is the former clay quarry which one hit over – or tried to hit over – on the 7th hole.


The original idea was to have two nine hole courses rather than a third eighteen. The idea being that some preferred the occasional short round rather than a full eighteen. This is another example of the ethos which guided the resort from the beginning. That is, virtually every wish and inclination of the visitors was responded to in an exemplary fashion. Overall, the continual evolution and refinement of every aspect of the village was an enormously complex enterprise. Yet, they did not merely respond to the needs and desires – they pushed beyond the cutting edge of the times in innumerable ways and moved into revolutionary territories.

It was a staggering achievement.

And as all village matters were continually evolving, so did the concept of this course. The idea of two nine hole courses quickly evolved into making it a standard eighteen hole course. However, the original concept remains in that both the outward and inward nines begin and finish in the same place just across the road from the clubhouse.

The inward segues with the outward exactly as you would expect. The terrain, style and challenge of design are very similar and provide a clear sense of continuity. Rare is the Donald Ross course where the two halves don’t look like they belong together. That the seams go unnoticed is a tribute to a masterfully skilled hand.

As the image bank is not exactly overflowing with those grainy visuals of yore lets concentrate on some of the stand out efforts by Mr. Ross.

The 372 yard 10th hole (today’s 3rd) is particularly good terrain used particularly well. A generous driving area leads to a sharp downturn about 220 yards out. Beyond that was once a stream about 50 yards farther along which, alas, is no more. The approach was then played to a green complex perfectly seated on a hill. Except for the absence of the stream and some narrowing it plays the same today.


After some rather challenging holes the golfer was given something of a respite with the shortish 14th (today’s 7th).

As with all the holes, there was a visual evolution from the rough hewn to an ornate display which sent the photographers grasping for more film. The hole still played the same – and actually still does to this day.

Mind you, the transformation from a truly desolate wilderness to a lush landscape is not something which just happened. It was due to Leonard Tufts drafting a highly skilled German by the name of Otto Katzenstein to oversee this large scale aspect of the resort. In addition to the enormous importation of flora and fauna Katzenstein prized some of the native plants such as wire grass. His cultivation of such indigenous plants puzzled the local population.

While Otto tended to a vast number of horticultural matters it was Frank Maples and Ross himself who were primarily responsible for the golfing grounds. They spent decades experimenting with grassing formulas – not always successfully. Ultimately, they found bermuda with a fertilization program that lasted the summer worked best for golfing purposes.

Moving back to design, if the 8th hole was one of Ross’s very best 3 shot holes the original version of the 17th (today’s 15th) provided a very worthy companion piece. Although the extant records leave something to be desired it is clear the 17th was unique and dramatic.


The original version played 100 yards longer with both the tee and (most likely) the green stretched further than you will find them today. The tee shot played sharply downhill to a fairway which canted noticeably left to right. As with the 8th the key shot was the second one which had to contend with a slanted ravine.


The Pinehurst courses are filled with remnants of the earlier ages. Here is how the ravine plays today.