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Course Source: Pine Needles Lodge, Pinehurst Resort

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IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.

THE LAYOUT: Only a 10-minute drive from the famed Pinehurst Resort, Pine Needles -- which hosted the 2007 U.S. Women's Open won by Cristie Kerr -- is a Donald Ross masterpiece in the Sandhills of North Carolina.

Although it is located at a resort, the course is open to the public.

The course was renovated in 2005 under the direction of Arizona-based designer John Fought to make it more closely resemble the course that opened in 1928. Tee boxes were lengthened, greens and bunkers were restored to their original sizes and positions, and native turf grasses were re-established.

Pine Needles, which plays to a par of 71, has been lengthened by about 300 yards to a total of 7,015 yards.

You can take a lesson from famed instructor Peggy Kirk Bell, whose family has been a presence at the resort for three generations. Bell now owns the resort. Also on the teaching staff is Donna Andrews, winner of six events on the LPGA Tour, including the 1994 Nabisco Dinah Shore, and Pat McGowan, who was Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour in 1968.

GENERAL MANAGER, DIRECTOR OF GOLF: Graham Gilmore.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Michael Campbell of New Zealand set up camp at the Pine Needles Lodge the week before the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst with his Florida-based instructor Jonathan Yarwood, who refined Campbell's chipping and putting strokes for the inverted saucer greens at Pinehurst.

After Campbell's remarkable victory at Pinehurst on the No. 2 course, perhaps' Ross' most famous layout, the winner returned to celebrate on Sunday night at the "In the Rough" Lounge at Pine Needles.

Pine Needles boasts an exceptional set of par 3s, three of them from elevated tees, so choosing the correct club is a must. The 145-yard third, the signature hole and shortest on the course, is the most picturesque, requiring a tee shot over a lake and wetlands area to a green that slopes dramatically from back to front.

The sixth hole, a 459-yard par 4, might be the best on the course. You hit your tee shot up to the fairway, and long hitters can catch the downslope atop the knoll to get an extra 30 yards of roll. The approach plays downhill to the green.

As part of the 2005 renovation, the 14th and 15th holes, perhaps the best on the back nine, have reverted to their original shot values. No. 14 is a daunting 454-yard par 4, followed by the 530-yard par-5 15th.

OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Pine Needles' sister property next door, the Mid Pines Inn, boasts another Ross classic, Mid Pines Golf Club. Of course, a few miles down the road is Pinehurst Resort and Club, with eight courses, including the prized No. 2 course.

Also in the neighborhood are the Mid South Club in Pinehurst, designed by Arnold Palmer; Legacy Golf Club in Aberdeen, designed by Jack Nicklaus II and host of the 2000 Women's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship; National Golf Club in Pinehurst, designed by Jack Nicklaus; and Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford, an innovative course designed by Mike Strantz.

Others worth a look are the Pit Golf Links, Talamore Golf Club, Little River Farm and Pinewild Country Club.

WHERE TO STAY: The Carolina Hotel is a National Historical Landmark in the center of Pinehurst that has been offering exquisite service to go with Southern charm since 1901.

Four U.S. presidents have stayed at the Holly Inn in Pinehurst, which opened its doors in 1895.

The Manor Inn has been one of Arnold Palmer's favorite hangouts since he visited Pinehurst with his father as a boy.

In addition to Pine Needles Lodge and the Mid Pines Inn, other quality accommodations may be found at Amble Inn Acres Bed and Breakfast in Vass, the Blacksmith Inn in Carthage, Hyland Hills Resort in Southern Pines and the Old Buggy Inn in Carthage.

ON THE WEB: www.pineneedles-midpines.com

THE LAST RESORT: Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C.

THE LAYOUT: There are eight championship courses at Pinehurst, one of the finest golf resorts in the world, four designed by architectural giant Donald Ross.

The others were designed by George and Tom Fazio, Rees Jones and Dan and Ellis Maples.

Pinehurst No. 2, of course, is Ross' masterpiece -- which has been recognized since its opening in 1907 as one of the most challenging layouts in the world. It plays to 7,252 yards from the tips, with a par of 72, and has a 75.9 USGA rating with a slope of 138.

No. 2 has been the site of more big-time championships than any other course in the United States, and it was the host the 2005 U.S. Open, in which Michael Campbell of New Zealand held off Tiger Woods to win by two strokes.

The United States Golf Association will stage the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on consecutive weeks in June 2014, the first time a course will host national championships on consecutive weeks.

DIRECTOR OF GOLF: Chad Campbell (not the one who plays on the PGA Tour).

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: The beauty of the No. 2 course belies the difficulty, with the subtlety of Ross' design coming into view only after the golfer lands in a strategically placed bunker or has his ball trickle off one of the crowned greens.

However, the course is playable for even the weekend golfer because the fairways are wide and forgiving.

Make your birdie or par on the easier third and fourth holes, because the diabolical fifth, a 483-yard par 4, and sixth, a 225-yard par 3, await with as punishing a one-two punch as golf can provide.

No. 14, at 471 yards to a green with trouble everywhere, is considered to be among the best two-shot holes in America.

Many a duffer has stood on the 18th green and tried to see if he could sink the same 15-foot putt the late Payne Stewart drained to beat Phil Mickelson and win the 1999 U.S. Open.

A statue of Stewart in his fist-pumping pose after sinking the putt overlooks the 18th green.

Ben Hogan won for the first time as a pro on No. 2, beating Sam Snead by three strokes in the 1940 North and South Championship.

OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: If you don't get enough golf at Pinehurst, there is plenty nearby in the Sandhills of North Carolina to keep even the golf-aholic busy all day, seven days a week.

Ross also designed gems at Pine Needles Lodge and Mid Pines Inn, both in neighboring Southern Pines.

Others in the neighborhood are the Mid South Club, designed by Arnold Palmer, in Pinehurst; Legacy Golf Club in Aberdeen, designed by Jack Nicklaus II and host of the 2000 Women's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship; National Golf Club in Pinehurst, designed by Jack Nicklaus, and Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford, an innovative course designed by Mike Strantz.

Others worth a look are the Pit Golf Links, Talamore Golf Club, Little River Farm and Pinewild Country Club.

WHERE TO STAY: The Carolina Hotel is a National Historical Landmark in the center of Pinehurst that has been offering exquisite service to go with Southern charm since 1901.

Four U.S. presidents have stayed at the Holly Inn in Pinehurst, which opened its doors in 1895.

The Manor Inn has been one of Arnold Palmer's favorite hangouts since he visited Pinehurst with his father as a boy.

Other quality accommodations may be found at Pine Needles Lodge in Southern Hills, Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club in Southern Pines, Amble Inn Acres Bed and Breakfast in Vass, the Blacksmith Inn in Carthage, Hyland Hills Resort in Southern Pines and the Old Buggy Inn in Carthage.

ON THE WEB: www.pinehurst.com

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