Polish another popular Pinehurst attraction

Pinehurst No. 8 closed in June and will reopen in September after a series of agronomic and infrastructural improvements. Golfers who have followed the Pinehurst Resort arc over the past decade might assume Fazio’s century-old design is getting a facelift with the Sandhills as the No. 2 and No. 4 experienced in 2011 and 2018.

Pinehurst Resort Director of Golf and Grounds Management Bob Faren said he wouldn’t blame them for jumping to that conclusion. But this time around, that’s just not the case. No. 8 will retain all of its original Tom Fazio design elements and architectural styles. According to Farren, the changes will be “subtle but impactful” and will make the layout firmer and faster, in keeping with Pinehurst’s manner.

“We talked to the Fazio people, and Tom even came twice and visited us,” Farren said. “We gave him the opportunity to give us ideas and see if he was interested in making changes. But he had a good deal of conviction that what we were doing was enough. As [Pinehurst Resort President] Tom Pashley says, “We don’t have to hit every course with the same hammer.”

Improvements include new TifEagle greens, restoration of bunkers and fresh bunker sand, improved drainage throughout the course and removal of overgrown trees limiting views and inhibiting sunlight. Several updates are also planned for the interior and grounds of the clubhouse, including the installation of fire pits overlooking the 18th green later this fall.

“No. 8 is a retreat away from other courses and golfers like the change of pace there,” Farren said. “Only golfers who have played the course multiple times will even notice the changes. goal. The course will appear sharper and play firmer and faster. That’s it.”

While the slope and speed of the greens in number 2 are legendary, the putting surfaces in number 8 have gradually worked their way into Pinehurst tradition. They were originally bentgrass when they opened in 1995 and were replaced by Champion Bermuda in 2013. Over the years the slopes have become more severe via topdressing and other maintenance practices. To say there have been a few three-putts in the past decade is an understatement.

“We dig the top of the greens before re-grassing them to get the air out of them, so to speak,” Farren said. “Ultra-dwarf Bermuda grass has fine blades, is dense and can be cut low and roll as fast or faster than bentgrass. This will help temper the severity of the greens while maintaining their integrity. »

Existing Bermuda grass on tees and fairways will be retained, Farren said, but thatch will be removed throughout the course using “fresh mowing” to tighten up lies and promote greater deployment on shots. departure. Strawberry mowing is a very disruptive mowing technique that completely removes thatch from Bermuda grass.

Keith P. Plain