The Original Pinehurst No. 3

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This is a pretty accurate scale superimposition of the original holes on a current aerial. The large red numbers show the original route. The smaller numbers indicate the current hole numbers: yellow for No. 3 and blue for No. 5

This is a pretty accurate scale superimposition of the original holes on a current aerial. The large red numbers show the original route. The smaller numbers indicate the current hole numbers: yellow for No. 3 and blue for No. 5

Epilogue

Ross designed, literally, hundreds of courses. But, the four courses as one whole were without a doubt his magnum opus. And until the grass greens and nuances were worked into No. 2, it was No. 3 that was the golden child. It was tougher, far more scenic and with clearly superior terrain. Ultimately, it bore the brunt of modernization and housing even more than the others.

The modernization was pursued with good intent. Good intentions guided their efforts even before James Tufts personally drove the first stake into the barren ground and said “this is the center of the village”.  The difference – and it was a dramatic difference – was that the early guidance of the vast tract never, ever stopped with good intentions. Not a single time. Not only did they provide the best available – they forged into uncharted territory. That path was not without its mistakes. For instance, at one point No. 2 took a very incongruent path down and back up a sharp hill which was not really suitable for great golfing.

With any elaborate and complex endeavor which travels through many eras the occasional false step is to be expected. However, the salient point here is that the early guardians always corrected the misguided efforts. Their iron clad resolve to ultimately bring each aspect of both the courses and the resort to the best possible level was unwavering.

The guiding star for their decisions was: what is the best way to handle the issue at hand? Sure, there was on occasion expedience and delay in bringing various elements of the long running drama to a fitting outcome. But those were rare and mere way stations on the larger journey toward a plateau of spectacular brilliance. At its peak this place really was the magical golfing dreamworld. There are any number of historic accounts of people’s first visit to the veranda which looks out over Ross’s vast masterwork. It took their breath away.

As you know, the courses gradually moved to an era in which, to a significant degree, they became something akin to standard retirement fare.

That is not what Pinehurst is supposed to be.

The question is: how are the courses going to be guided through the coming years?

Shall the decision be – as it was in the early days – to make a journey toward bringing them to the best level possible? If that is the case then, without the slightest doubt, there should be a long hard look at how Ross had courses 1,3 and 4 in the late ’30’s to late  ’40’s.

Does anyone think there is a way to present these courses in a manner which is superior to that?

The exquisite look and playability of the Ross courses at their peak in the late 30’s and into the 40’s should be central to considerations of how the resort progresses through the decades. That is precisely what brought the magic back to No. 2. If advanced thinking is applied to that effort then a great deal more of the Ross virtuosity can be uncovered amongst the rest than one would suppose. For that to happen there has to be the same quest for supreme quality that the early leaders unremittingly brought to bear for so many years. Pursuing that as brilliantly as the recent No. 2 restoration has been conducted will return the resort to a profound ambiance which only a few of the supreme destinations possess.

Ross perfected these courses.

The way forward is by looking back.

 

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THE END

Chris Buie is the author of The Early Days of Pinehurst