What Travelin' Joe Says
"I'm such a fan of Pinehurst - the town, its namesake resort, its Carolina hotel and its golf courses, especially No. 2 - that it's easy to overlook the region's other gems, Pine Needles and Tobacco Road among them.
"However, I have to recommend adding the Dormie Club (dormieclub.net, 855-955-1999, $125-$225) to your must-play list. Shrouded in mystery almost since inception, this Pinehurst-area layout, located in the town of West End, deserves much better.
"Toss aside ownership and development issues and focus on the course itself, because this three-year-old Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw creation, ranked No. 96 in Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play, is worthy of closer inspection.
"Typical of the duo's design style are the extra-wide, pine-framed fairways, festooned with spectacular, sprawling bunkers, as well as the massive, artfully contoured greens and their surrounds, which demand touch and ingenuity -- and perhaps multiple plays -- to figure out.
"Unusual for this design team are the healthy number of forced carries over wetlands, the result of environmental restrictions and 150 feet of elevation change on the property. The club is now a daily-fee course and a worthy detour when you're in the Sandhills."
* For the first time ever, the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open will be played back-to-back next year on the same course: at Pinehurst No. 2. The course will be closed prior to the championships after the last tee time on May 25th. A reopening date after the winners have been crowned has yet to be determined.
* As if the greens on Pinehurst No. 2 aren't challenging enough, the resort debuted a new 18-hole putting course last August. Called "Thistle Dhu," the heavily contoured 15,000-square-foot green is located near the first tee and 18th green of the No. 4 course. Just don't play it before heading out for your tee time-finding a flat putt on it is highly unlikely, making it better suited for a post-round activity.
* If you are into golf art and memorabilia, then there are few better places in the world than Tom Stewart's Old Sport Gallery (oldsportgallery.com) in Pinehurst's Market Square. Autographed books, vintage signs, historical prints, original art, golf collectibles-you'll find it all here.
* The Outer Banks of North Carolina, on the Atlantic Ocean side of the state, have long been a favorite vacation destination for families. You won't find the state's top-ranked courses there, but there are some quality options for golfers, including the Currituck Club (clubcorp.com/Clubs/The-Currituck-Club), Nags Head Golf Links (clubcorp.com/Clubs/Nags-Head-Golf-Links) and Kilmarlic Golf Club (kilmarlicgolfclub.com).
From the Expert
"The best times of the year to visit -- for room/tee time availability, pricing, course conditions and weather -- are from March through May and September through November.
"In addition to golf, I recommend visiting the Spa at Pinehurst, walking around the main golf clubhouse to soak up the game's history and bring home a piece of memorabilia, enjoying a leisurely bicycle ride through the Village of Pinehurst, watching the sunset from a rocking chair on the Carolina porch and trying the world famous triple chocolate soufflé at the Holly Inn’s 1895 Grille."
-- Matt Chriscoe, Resort Services, Pinehurst Resort
Top 100 Teacher Tip
"The only issue for golfers coming to North Carolina might be adjusting to our indigenous grasses. In particular, the hybrid Bermuda grass rough that lines the smooth fairways of the Carolinas is generally much thicker per inch of height than typical fescue rough.
"The summer cut height of Bermuda rough is typically 1 1/2 to 3 inches. You may get lucky and have the ball sitting up (flyer lie!), but here are a few simple tips to help you when your ball is sitting down in the Bermuda.
"At address: align your body slightly left of your target with your clubface aiming slightly right of your target; play the ball back in your stance with your weight favoring your forward leg to help you create a steeper/more upright angle of approach in order to contact the ball more directly; and grip the club a little tighter in your left hand so the clubface won't twist as you swing down and through.
"In your forward swing remember to swing firmly past the ball location as the thick grass will resist the clubface through the impact zone."
-- Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and PGA Master Professional Ed Ibarguen is based at Duke University Golf Club in Durham
Top 100 Teachers
Need a lesson from one of the country's best teachers while in North Carolina? Then contact Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers Ed Ibarguen at Duke University Golf Club in Durham (919-681-2288), or Dana Rader at The Dana Rader Golf School in Charlotte (704-542-7635).
If you have downloaded the My Pro To Go app (myprotogo.com) and want an in-person swing consultation, or just need a tune-up before starting your first round here, head to one of GolfTec's locations in the Raleigh and Charlotte areas:
Harris Corners (704-405-1490)