Southern Pines Golf Club
North Carolina, United States of America

Sixth hole, 440 yards; 

 

Seventh hole, 200 yards; This hole has bee greatly improved ever since Avestra took over the management and day to day running of the golf course in 2007 from the Elk’s Club. Old photos from Ross’s day show a raw, rugged one shotter that played over the rim of a sandy bowl to a green on the far side. As with too many other clubs in the 1980s, the Elks at Southern Pines made the mistake of trying to ‘Augusta-fy’ the course. Such efforts included hiding the natural sandy character of this hole underneath Bermuda grass. In addition, three dogwood trees were planted in the bottom of what had been a sandy pit. Mercifully, Averstra has restored some of the rugged character to this hole.

Eighth hole, 375 yards; A charming slight dogleg that needs to be approached with caution and where a driver may not be prudent. The fairway may be the most important one to find on the course as peril lurks on either side. Routed along the spine of a hill, a drive that misses right kicks sharply toward a lake while a drive that misses the fairway left kicks deeper into the pine trees. As the lake is a full sixty paces from the fairway and is thus out of sight from the tee, the golfer may not realize the problems of a slice until it is too late. To spring such a delayed trap on the golfer is more clever than building a lake a few feet off the fairway, a sight that is too commonplace in modern golf. The eighth green is equally neat as the left third is protected by a bunker but it also features a bowl contour, allowing the smart golfer to ignore the bunker and let the slope of the green feed the ball down toward the left hole locations. In 1998/1999, John LaFoy oversaw the greens being seeded with Crenshaw bent. Such grass behaves well in the hot summer conditions and this grass allows the greens to play firm so that features such as this left bowl actually play as intended.

The downhill eighth bends around the bunker on the inside of the dogleg but the real trouble is how just off the fairway slopes right toward a lake and left into pine trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ninth hole, 180 yards; One reason that the routing works so well at Southern Pines is because the architect wasn’t forced to return the first nine to the clubhouse. In fact, the ninth green is more than two thousand yards from the clubhouse and it’s the third par three on this side. Most modern architects aren’t afforded such latitude. Back in the 1920s, architects were freer to find the routing that yielded the finest holes – no wonder that period yielded courses of such high quality.

Though Ross’s original bunkers have changed over the years, today’s configuration provides challenging back left hole locations. The golfer who can shape the ball enjoys the chance to showcase his skill when such hole locations are used.

Tenth hole, 335 yards; Wonderful sidehill architecture. A hillock crosses the fairway at the 220 yard mark from the tee and the golfer who can place his tee ball near its broad crest is afforded the more level stance into the green. The green itself mirrors the left to right pitch of the fairway and any approach that ends up above the hole on the left is a three putt in the making. Where Ross got the fill for this green is a mystery. Big hitters who take a powerful swing with their drivers often find it is to no avail as the left to right pitch of the ground encourages their tee ball to end up in the right rough or on a bed of pine needles from where the angle and lie rarely are conducive for a birdie. In short, advances in technology have done little to diminish the playing qualities of this subtle hole. Though the shadows make it a bit hard to tell, this view from the tenth tee still shows the general left to right pitch of the land.

The six foot deep bunker on the right of the green gets plenty of play, given that the approach shot is often times played with the ball below one’s feet.

Eleventh hole, 320 yards; In general, unlike many Ross courses, Southern Pines has not been overgrown by trees. The one primary exception was here at the eleventh where trees had encroached on the hole’s strategy. Originally, Ross gave the golfer a good look at the green on this dogleg right with the inside of the dogleg lined with four deep bunkers. Unfortunately, the growth of the pine trees over the past sixty years obscured the view of the green and several of bunkers on the inside of the dogleg were removed. Good golfers treated it exclusively as a three wood and pitch hole. Happily, the offending pine trees were removed in the fall of 2007 from the inside of the dogleg and once again good golfers are opting for driver on the tee. The feedback to date from the better players has been that they are making a few more birdies now and a lot more doubles (!) as they are suckered into taking too aggressive a line off the tee.

The green is once again visible around the bend and good golfers are being goaded into being too greedy off the tee.