1. Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC; 910-295-6811, pinehurst.com
The Sandhills region of North Carolina, 70 minutes southwest of Raleigh/Durham is studded with wonderful public plays. Still, there’s only one Pinehurst No. 2, and it’s worth every penny to say you’ve played it. Fresh off a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw restoration in time to host the 2014 U.S. Open, No. 2 dishes out the fiercest test of chipping in golf, amid the tall longleaf pines and enhanced sandy waste areas that have restored the strategic challenge to Donald Ross’ original specs. Two other Ross designs are available to resort guests but second choice for many is Tom Fazio’s No. 8. It can’t approach fabled No. 2 for history and lore, but it’s undeniable that for sheer beauty, variety and memorable holes, No. 8 holds its own. Lakes, wetlands, an abandoned sand pit and a man-made dune ridge add to the fun, but it’s the huge, fast crowned greens that can send scores soaring.