How Can I Play Pinehurst No.2?

The North Carolina course has hosted plenty of the world's most famous players, but can you play it too?

The par 3 ninth hole at Pinehurst No.2
Pinehurst No.2 is one of nine 18-hole courses at the resort, with a 10th on the way
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina has no fewer than nine 18-hole courses, a nine-hole course and a putting green.

It’s not stopping there, either. After nearly three decades, a 10th championship course, designed by Tom Doak, is set to open in spring 2024. No wonder it’s known as “The Cradle of American Golf.”

Despite the abundance of options, though, for most players, one of the resort’s courses stands alone - Pinehurst No.2.

The course was designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1907, but it is now considered his masterpiece. Considering other Ross designs include East Lake, Pine Needles, Oak Hill and Seminole, it needed to beat some stiff competition for that honour.

A plaque dedicated to designer Donald Ross at Pinehurst No.2

Donald Ross designed the course, which opened in 1907

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Among Ross’ qualities was his meticulous attention to detail, and that is abundantly clear in his handling of Pinehurst No.2, which didn’t finish once it opened. Instead, he made tweaks to the course until he died in 1948, seeking perfection, which suggested he knew he had created something very special indeed.

By the 1960s, much of that magic had begun to fade, with the fairway bunkers no longer a serious consideration for most players, the greens more a chore than a challenge and a sameness to some of the holes.

That all changed in 2010 when the course was revitalised by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, who reshaped the fairways and bunkers and removed the rough but added sand and scrub to bring it closer to Ross’ original design.

The 16th hole at Pinehurst No.2

Pinehurst No.2 is one of the most famous courses in the world

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pinehurst No.2, like many Ross courses, has incredibly difficult domed green complexes that take their cues from Royal Dornoch in Scotland, where he once worked as a greens keeper. Those “turtleback” putting surfaces, which Johnny Miller once described as “like trying to hit a ball on top of a VW Beetle,” are also smaller than they look and need huge skill to negotiate. Approach shots need to be accurate, too, with shots that are short, often rolling back off them.

The 17th green at Pinehurst No.2

The greens complexes are well-known at Pinehurst No.2

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Before worrying about the devilish putting surfaces, though, there is some leeway for players with the often wide fairways. However, even then, strategy is a must, with strategically placed bunkers and deceptive undulations ready to test even the most accomplished player.

A look at the tournaments Pinehurst No.2 has hosted gives a clue to the task at hand. After all, as well as the 1936 PGA Championship, it was also the scene of three US Opens, with five more in the pipeline – including 2024. Given that particular Major is notorious for its often gruelling nature, it’s safe to assume the USGA knows when it’s found a course that lends itself to that kind of a challenge.

On the subject of those tournaments, that’s another thing that sets Pinehurst No.2 apart, not just from the courses it neighbours, but worldwide – its incredibly rich history.

There’s also great poignancy. That’s because 50 or so yards from the 18th green is a statue of the late Payne Stewart in the pose of his famous fist pump after he beat Phil Mickelson to the 1999 US Open title. Barely four months after that famous moment, Stewart was no longer with us. He died at the age of 42 when a plane he was flying in, which was taking him to the Tour Championship in Texas, failed to pressurize and it later crashed.

The Payne Stewart statue at Pinehurst No.2

A statue at Pinehurst No.2 of Payne Stewart depicts the moment he won the 1999 US Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Those elements make Pinehurst No.2 one of the most beguiling courses anywhere and a must-play for golfers at some point in their lives.

How To Play Pinehurst No.2

The good news is it’s not difficult to arrange a round at Pinehurst, as it’s open to the public and there are various packages to stay in one of the accommodation options at the resort.

For example, the Donald Ross Package includes the option of a two-night stay starting at $747, including three rounds.

Guests will need to stay a minimum of two nights to play either Pinehurst No.2 or another course designed by Ross, Pinehurst No.4. You can stay at the resort for one night and play Pinehurst No.6, No.7, No.8 and No.9, though.

If you would rather play Pinehurst No.1, No.3, No.5, or nine-hole course The Cradle, you don’t even need to be a resort guest. Instead, you’ll need to call no less than a day in advance to book a tee time.

Depending on factors, including the time of year and course you play, green fees range from $50 to $490.

You can become a member of Pinehurst, too, with five options – Signature, Premier, Classic, Sports and Social. The Signature membership reportedly requires a $45,000 initiation fee and monthly dues of $620. For that, you will have access to all nine courses at one of the most famous golf resorts on the planet.

Pinehurst Resort Location

Who Designed Pinehurst No.2

The course was designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1907. He continued making improvements to the course until he died in 1948. In 2010, the course was renovated by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.

Is Pinehurst No.2 Open To The Public?

Guest staying a minimum of two nights at Pinehurst Resort can play Pinehurst No.2, with various golf packages available. There are also membership options, while some of the other courses at the resort can be played by booking a tee time in advance.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.