Going to the U.S. Open? Here's 5 must-play courses
05 Jun 2014
by Benjamin Larsen of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Pinehurst Resort, All Course Reviews

Golf is constantly on the mind in the Pinehurst, N.C. area and this month, even more so.

For the thousands of golfers that will be in attendance at the back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open Championships at Pinehurst No. 2, though, where should they play their golf when not being a patron?

Within the 15-mile radius that encapsulates the Pinehurst and Southern Pines region, there are 40 world-class golf courses, including many not named Pinehurst No. 2 that have hosted USGA championship and are consistently ranked among the nation's best.

For the golfer who's heading to Pinehurst this month, here's a look at the five must-play courses they should be sure to book a tee time at while in the area:

Pine Needles Golf Club
The area is home to a number of Donald Ross originals in addition to famed No. 2 and these two courses are among the best. Pine Needles is owned by Peggy Kirk Bell and family and was completely restored in 2004 in between its second and third U.S. Women's Open championships. The experience and facilities at Pine Needles are first-class. If you have the chance, stay on site at one of the resort's lodges. Mid-Pines was also restored -- but more recently. Last year, the course -- and primarily the greens -- were returned to Ross' original designs led by architect Kyle Franz and it was named the best U.S. resort renovation of the year.

Talamore Golf Club
Nearby Pine Needles-Mid Pines, the Talamore is somewhat new compared to many of the other famed courses in Pinehurst and Southern Pines but that shouldn't take away from its acclaim. Rees Jones is the architect behind the impressive 7,020-yard layout, which became the first to institute a llama caddy program. That's right, a llama can carry your bag for your day at Talamore. Also be sure to try partner course, Mid South Club, an Arnold Palmer signature course.

Pinewild Country Club
Pinewild offers 36 holes and a nine-hole par-3 course, depending on your time available while at the Open. The club is private but available to golfers participating in one of the area packages. The club's Holly Course is a Gary Player Signature course and the Magnolia, considered a traditional masterpiece, was built by Gene Hamm. A host of the PGA Tour's Q- School, LPGA Pinewild Championship and U.S. Open qualifying, Pinewild is a solid play while in the Pinehurst area.

Tobacco Road
Considered among the top courses in America by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine, the Mike Strantz-designed Tobacco Road has been described as 'Pine Valley on Steroids'. At 6,500 yards, it plays through an old sand quarry and challenges golfers with shotmaking a priority. In July 2013, Tobacco Road reached No. 50 in the world according to Golf Architecture Magazine.

The Dormie Club
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw led the development of the 6,984-yard Dormie Club, which spans 1,030 natural acres in West End, N.C. The terrain was nearly untouched, similar to the duo's terrific efforts in Bandon Dunes, Ore. and the new Streamsong Resort in Fla. Tee time are still available during the week of the Men's U.S. Open on what Golfweek considered the No. 2 course you can play in 2013.

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