Planting your peg on the first tee of a great new course is like waking up on Christmas morning. You may have some idea about the gifts that await, but the surprise is half the fun. As each hole unfolds, it’s akin to unwrapping one present at a time. Each hole, and course, is different, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. As the calendar year comes to a close, GOLF.com will unveil its best of the best when it comes to new courses of 2018. Check the December 2018 issue of GOLF magazine for the full lineup.
On the tee: The best new course you can play of the year
Pinehurst Resort (No. 4)
7,226 Yards, Par 72
Every time Gil Hanse has waved his design wand over a project for the past three years, he’s won an award. This year, Hanse, partner Jim Wagner and their team collected a few more trophies, none more richly deserved than what they earned for their extreme makeover of Pinehurst No. 4. Whether this is a redesign, as Hanse’s working plans state, or a brand new course, as Hanse himself asserts, it’s a remarkable piece of work.
Hanse and his crew plowed under Tom Fazio’s popular predecessor, a 1999 creation that had long been a staple of Top 100 Public Course lists. Why abandon Fazio’s 4? Because Pinehurst felt they could do something truly special. And they did. While the new No. 4 shares the same plot, everything else is radically changed. Gone are the artificial pot bunkers, propped up greens and gussied-up parkland features.
In their stead are extra-wide fairways that take full advantage of the most impressive undulations at Pinehurst. Vast sandy areas bracket and criss-cross fairways. User-friendly kick slopes help propel properly struck shots onto low-profile greens. The changes at the par-5 ninth best illuminate No. 4’s transformation. Fazio’s version featured 25 pot bunkers sprinkled liberally throughout. Hanse’s work sports a massive cross-bunker hazard. No. 4 may never reach the tournament stature of its fabled No. 2 sibling, but for strategy, visuals and enjoyment, it’s in a class by itself.