Pinehurst: 10 things you need to know

Pinehurst Golf Resort
A sand path through the trees at Pinehurst. Credit: Chris Auman

It just doesn’t get much better than a golf trip to Pinehurst.

The magic of the place is something we have documented at length and we’ll continue to tell anyone who asks, why this place is so special. But to truly get the most from your visit there are a few things you’ll want to know. Yes, Pinehurst No 2 really is one of the world’s great courses, Pinehurst No 4 isn’t far behind and The Carolina Hotel is beautiful. 

But you almost certainly know all that already.

The Carolina Hotel Pinehurst
For over a century, the ‘Queen of the South’ has welcomed guests to Pinehurst

What we want to do here, is arm you with the tools to go to Pinehurst with a few insider tips, so you notice things you might otherwise miss and allow yourselves to really drink in what makes this place like nowhere else.

So here goes – 10 things you’ll want to know on any trip to Pinehurst

1. The Cradle Pinehurst

Ok, ok, we know, an obvious choice. We have explained why this was the perfect first experience to find our way at Pinehurst but what is it really like? For those who don’t know, The Cradle is Pinehurst’s 9-hole short course. The holes range in length from around 60 to 130 yards and the quality of the putting surfaces, and everything else for that matter, is as you would find them on Pinehurst’s most acclaimed courses. 

The Cradle is as much fun as it’s possible to have with a golf club in hand and shoes are optional. We played in a seven-ball on the day, and a few of the group left their shoes at the starters’ hut. Why? I guess they wanted to feel the turf under their toes. And the sand between them (which they certainly did in the bunkers) – it’s just a reflection of how relaxed this place is. You don’t even need to be a resort guest to play it. PS. The course record is 18 – good luck beating that.

Pinehurst The Cradle
The Cradle is Gil Hanse’s magical 9-hole short course at Pinehurst.

2. The people of Pinehurst

Pinehurst golf resort is special for so many reasons but right at the top of the list are the people who work here. The pride they take in what they do comes through in every interaction and the knowledge and insight they have is right there waiting for you to tap into if you’re willing to take the time to ask. Talk to the shuttle driver who is bringing you to your course. Speak to the front desk manager at your hotel. Or ask questions of the guy or gal who is strapping your golf bag to the buggy. What you likely find is someone who has more than a few stories to tell and someone who will add to your experience of what makes a golf trip to this place so special. Pinehurst looks after its staff too, with all of them able to play any Pinehurst golf course for $5, depending on availability. The caddies of Pinehurst are famously wonderful too and if you’re playing Pinehurst No 2 or No 4, I can’t stress how much you’ll benefit from having one of the team carrying your bag. They can spin a yarn as well as they can read a green. 

Pinehurst golf resort
Pinehurst at magic hour. Credit: Jacob Diehl

3. Walk courses, shuttle the rest

Once you check into your hotel at the Pinehurst golf resort, you can stop worrying about transport. The courtesy shuttle buses are brilliant, frequent and you can catch them all around the village free of charge. So, if you’ve just checked in to The Manor and want to hit a few balls at Maniac Hill, just request the shuttle, wait a few minutes and you’ll be there before you know it – what a brilliant service. Don’t get me wrong, walking is nice too, but you’ll be doing plenty of that on the Pinehurst golf courses and during those summer months you’ll be delighted when you feel that cold blast of air conditioning from the shuttle.

4. Pinehurst Brewing Company

After a day on the golf course, or an evening on The Cradle, you’ll have worked up a healthy appetite. Jump on the aforementioned shuttle and ask them to take you to Pinehurst Brewing Co – it’s just a great place to hang out. The building is historic and striking and was once responsible for powering the entire village of Pinehurst. The food is fresh, tasty, and plentiful. The beer menu is extensive and there are cocktails, whiskies, and drinks to suit every taste. The extensive renovation that turned the old steam plant into a modern, vibrant eatery was done with real care. Brick corbeling is still visible, the original arches and windows remain and the interior brick walls are still blackened from the days this building housed huge steam boilers. I had the railroad ribs and they were immense. Go and check it out for yourselves.

Pinehurst Brewing Company

5. The clubhouse terrace 

Pinehurst golf resort is all about making memories and if you haven’t got a club in hand, there is no better place to do that than by pulling up a rocking chair and drinking in the atmosphere on the clubhouse terrace at the back of the 18th green of Pinehurst No 2. As you walk along the long and historic corridor which runs through the heart of the majestic clubhouse at Pinehurst, you’ll come to the pro shop on your right and a vast cabinet of some of golf’s most famous trophies on your left. Walk out through those doors, take a seat, and just watch.

Not only will you get to see golfers come down the final hole at Pinehurst No 2 but you’ll likely find yourself surrounded by a few others doing the same. You’ll be joined by family members of golfers playing, fellow golfers and a whole bunch of other people besides. It not only makes for a great atmosphere for those coming down 18 but it’s a brilliant way to immerse yourself in life at Pinehurst. And if you’re feeling hungry, head into The Deuce (means 2, as in No 2) and grab some of the fantastic food there. You can eat at the bar and still look through the windows onto the 18th at No 2. To your right close by, you’ll spot the iconic statues of Payne Stewart, Donald Ross and others who have played such an important part of life here. It’s just a great spot.

Pinehurst No veranda
Take your seat behind the 18th green of Pinehurst No 2

6. Thistle Dhu Putting Course

We are huge fans of the Himalayas putting course in St Andrews, but Thistle Dhu is right there with it when conversation turns to the greatest putting greens in the world. Not only is it vast in scale but the undulations are incredible and the whole thing is maintained to the same standard as the greens out on the many Pinehurst golf courses. Right in the centre, you’ll find the statue of the Putter Boy, which is certainly worth a visit. There isn’t a dress code, a green fee and there aren’t rules or regulations governing the games which take place here. It’s just a really fun place to spend a few hours. And a brilliant way to prepare yourself for the speed and undulations you’ll find out on the courses. 

Thistle Dhu Putting
Thistle Dhu: 18 greens, but no greens fees

7. The Pinehurst refreshments

There is no excuse for not having the drink of your choice in hand at Pinehurst golf resort, there are just so many places to grab something. Yes, of course you’ll get the drinks carts which will come out and meet you as you play your way around, you’ll find halfway huts too but our two favourite places to grab a drink are the aforementioned Cradle Crossing, complete with its deck chairs and fire pits, and the Pinecone, which sits close to the 1st tee at Pinehurst No 2 and serves just about all the drinks and snacks you could dream of. Try a Transfusion cocktail

Here’s the recipe:
-3 ounces vodka (around 2 shots)
-1 ½ ounces Concord grape juice (or 1 shot)
-1/4 ounce fresh lime juice (about 2 lime wedges)
-Ginger ale
-Lots of ice

8. The Pinehurst golf pro shop

There are pro shops and there are pro shops and the one at Pinehurst is the latter. It’s vast for starters and as you wander around it, you catch the eye of other golfers who all have the same look on their face, which goes something like ‘jeez, I could spend a lot of money in here.’ I just kept thinking when someone asks me what I want for Christmas, my answer will be ‘a shopping trip to Pinehurst pro shop.’ There’s a huge amount of Pinehurst clothing and hats and towels and markers and golf balls, but the service is warm and welcoming, and no one is worried if you just want to go in there to marvel at all the things you wish you could buy. 

Maniac Hill, Pinehurst golf resort

9. Pinehurst’s practice facilities

Perhaps it’s no surprise to discover the practice facilities will leave you wanting for nothing at Pinehurst but there is history and significance here too. You see, Maniac Hill at Pinehurst is arguably the earliest formal practice facilities in golf. These days it’s estimated around 10 million golf balls are hit annually at Maniac Hill and if that isn’t enough then consider this: every one of the greats of the game have hit balls right where you are standing  – Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods – the lot. Don Padgett Sr, a former director of golf at Pinehurst, said, ‘if you can’t get excited over that, maybe you should take up tennis.’ Amen to that.

10. The little things at Pinehurst

Pinehurst is a place where the details matter. Yes, it’s a golf Disneyland with so many courses and places to play but the little things will give you joy too. Let’s start with the tees, yep, tee pegs. If you’re looking to get hold of some pretty special golf tees, Pinehurst golf resort is the place for you. Pinehurst No 2, No 3 (slightly shorter to reflect the shorter length of the course at no 3), No 4, No 8  and The Cradle all have their own signature tees which you can help yourselves to at the starters’ hut at each course. But there’s more.

At The Nest, which is close to the 10th tee of Pinehurst No 2 you’ll find tees that are different again. In the main Pinehurst golf pro shop, there is a hole in the countertop which you can dip your hand in and grab a bunch of tees. Most of the year, they’re the signature Pinehurst resort tees but during the spring season (March and April) these change to a special pink tee. 

Pinehurst Golf Resort things to know
There are also some very special (and hard to come by) Cradle Crossing tees at Pinehurst. These won’t be on display, so you’ll need to ask at the bar, and they disappear like gold dust. Where else? There are tees at The Carolina Hotel, which have a different logo on top and red and black stripes. There are different tees to be found in a large bowl on the reception desk at The Manor hotel, you’ll find tees at traditional Holly Inn Hotel in Pinehurst. And lastly, and perhaps the hardest to come by are the tees you marked with Dornoch Cottage on the side. Of course, this was where Pinehurst architect Donald Ross lived and so it’s a real prize if you are able to grab a few.

There are ball markers at almost all the courses too, which, like the tees are branded differently depending on where you are. One special mention – on the first day of spring The Cradle releases a spring logo ballmarker with five signature colours – white, pink, green, blue, and yellow. Once they’ve gone, they’ve gone.

Pinehurst golf resort
What else? Cups. You can collect plastic cups at Pinehurst. You’ve got the regular Pinehurst golf resort cups, which you’ll find at The Deuce and the 91st hole. The Nest has their own cups and, with it, their own speciality cocktail. There is a special Cradle Crossing cup, which is beautiful and one more to look out for would be at The Spa at Pinehurst, where they make their own smoothies, which change flavour every week.

Last but not least, if you do bring your best golf to Pinehurst and find a way to make a 2 on Pinehurst No 2, there is one more hack you must not miss. Once you finish your round with a 2 on your scorecard, walk off the the 18th green, on to the Veranda and into The Deuce restaurant. Go to the bar and tell them you just made a 2 on Pinehurst No 2 and they will present you with a very special Deuce coin. On the back it is engraved with the words ‘2 on 2 – I’ll drink to that.’ 

Deuce Coin Pinehurst No 2

Pinehurst golf resort: frequently asked questions

Why is Pinehurst so famous?

Pinehurst is the cradle of American golf and has a rich history and significance to the game of golf in the United States and beyond. No 2 has hosted more championships than any other course in the United States, including the US Open, the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup, the US Amateur to name but a few. But its significance and magic comes not because of those championships, but because of the spirit that engulfs this corner of North Carolina. 

Where is Pinehurst golf course?

Firstly, Pinehurst is not one golf course, it’s lots of golf courses and actually much more besides. Pinehurst is located in North Carolina, USA. It is around 1hr and 15 minutes south of Raleigh and around two hours west of Charlotte. The most convenient way to fly is to land at Raleigh-Durham International (RDU). Pinehurst offers an airport shuttle service.

Why is Pinehurst 2 so difficult?

Pinehurst No 2 is the most famous and celebrated golf course at the Pinehurst golf resort and one of the most important courses in the United States. It has hosted the US Open on a number of occasions (1999, 2005, 2014, 2024). Its devilish difficulty comes not because of deep rough or huge distances but because of its greens, which many liken to upturned saucers. Their slopes and speed led Johnny Miller to say it was like trying to a land a ball on the roof of a VW Beetle.

Can anyone play Pinehurst #2?

Only Pinehurst resort guests or members are able to play Pinehurst No 2. The same goes for Pinehurst No 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9. If you are not a member or resort guest you can still play Pinehurst No 1, 3, 5 or The Cradle.

Does Pinehurst have rough?

There is a running joke is that there are only two lengths of grass on Pinehurst No. 2 – the greens, and everything else. And to some extent that’s true. There is some growth in the natural sand and waste areas but by no means is there long rough around the greens.

Where will I find the best Pinehurst golf packages?

The answer is the Pinehurst website. For instance they offer a two night, 3 round package, which includes breakfast and dinner daily. Pinehurst isn’t cheap, but you wouldn’t expect it to be for what it offers.

Where can I find a Pinehurst golf courses map?

How about, right here. Pinehurst 1 to 5 and The Cradle, are based at Pinehurst golf resort. Pinehurst no 6, 7, 8 and 9 are a short drive away. But this map gives you a good idea of most of the courses. 

Pinehurst golf courses map

What about the Pinehurst golf shop?

The Pinehurst golf shop is incredible. It’s a vast space, with every kind of branded Pinehurst hat, shirt, golf towel, ball marker, tee and golf ball you could dream of. The staff in the shop will be delighted to help should you need anything. It’s the kind of place you could blow a lot of money in.

Pinehurst No 2 scorecardPinehurst No 2 scorecard

Pinehurst No 4 scorecard

Pinehurst No 4 scorecard


The founder of The Wandering Golfers, Ben grew up on the links of Scotland learning the game from his beloved Grandpa. Previously a writer and broadcaster for The Times and BBC

Latest from Golf