After years of speculation and hoping on the part of many golf architecture fans, Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina announced Wednesday morning that it will build its 10th golf course just a few miles from the main resort on the site of The Pit, a course that was shuttered in 2010.
Architect Tom Doak landed the job. Plans are for a 2024 opening that coincides with the resort hosting the U.S. Open that year on its famed No. 2 course. Doak designed many of the world’s best modern courses, including Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, Ballyneal in Colorado and Tara Iti in New Zealand, among dozens of others.
“The site is topographically distinct and drastically different from anywhere in Pinehurst,” Doak said in a media release announcing the news. “It’s bigger, bolder and more dramatic. There’s about 75 feet of elevation change, and we’ll work our way up to it around the mid-point of the layout. You’ll have expansive views from this apex over the rest of the course. It will be an unforgettable experience for golfers.”
The Pit, opened in 1985 with a Dan Maples design, was known for its extreme elevation changes and challenges. The layout, which was not part of Pinehurst Resort, did not survive the 2008 financial crisis that clobbered many golf courses around the United States. Pinehurst Resort bought the land on which The Pit sat in 2011.
Architect Tom Doak will build a new course at Pinehurst, slated to open in 2024. (Courtesy of Pinehurst Resort)
Since that time, the sandy site has been the topic of speculation as golfers guessed what the resort might have in mind. Robert H. Dedman Jr., CEO of Pinehurst Resort, had for years said it wasn’t the right time to build on the site. Golf’s recent boom since the start of COVID, which has led to great demand for tee times at Pinehurst Resort and other golf properties in the area, surely influenced the decision to hire Doak and start work on the resort’s first new course to be built in decades.
The resort owns about 900 acres of land near the Aberdeen area, including the site of the former The Pit. A variety of development opportunities will be evaluated with town officials, the resort said in its media release. Those opportunities include additional golf, a short course, a clubhouse, guest cottages and other lodging.
“This exceptional property is a place where many of our dreams of the future can be contemplated,” Dedman Jr. said in the media release. “How those dreams play out will be determined over time, the same way the path forward revealed itself through recent additions like The Cradle, Thistle Dhu and the redesign of Pinehurst No. 4. Adding a Tom Doak design to our collection is another historic chapter in the story of Pinehurst. We can’t wait to read it.”
The site for the new course features rugged dunes left in the wake of mining operations more than a century ago. With natural ridgelines, intriguing landforms, towering longleaf pines, streams and ponds, Doak said in the media release that he envisions a track that complements the resort’s other courses through its contrasts.
“The number one thing that excited us about the project is working with the beautiful sand that’s native to this region,” Doak said. “The sand, the wiregrass, the bluestem grass and other native grasses that grow around the Sandhills create a fabulous texture for golf. It’s something most places just don’t have.”
It will be a busy time around Pinehurst, as the U.S. Golf Association is building a campus that is under construction and is planned to begin to open this year. The resort also was selected as an anchor site for U.S. Opens and will host that tournament in 2024, ’29, ’35, ’41 and ’47.
Architect Tom Doak at Pinehurst (Courtesy of Pinehurst Resort)
And in 2024 all those people headed to the Sandhills will have one more place to play. Doak will work with landscape architect Angela Moser – whose CV includes efforts at Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course, Streamsong Black in Florida and the new St. Patrick’s Links in Ireland among others – on the project.
“Tom Doak builds incredible golf courses on sand, and we’re excited to see what he’ll create in the North Carolina Sandhills,” Pinehurst Resort President Tom Pashley said in the media release. “We’ve worked with some amazing golf architects who’ve embraced our natural aesthetic and believe Tom will do something fantastic on this site.”