Pinehurst course delights golfers in full bloom
When 50 or so golf writers descend upon a golf course for a friendly three-day competition, the urge to come up with a new phrase or two can become pretty irresistible.
The Golf Writers’ Association of America recently held its 2011 tournament, hosted by the fine folks at Pine Needles Golf Resort in Southern Pines, N.C.
The 54-hole event began with a round at the famous Pine Needles course designed by Donald Ross, one of golf’s finest architects.
Pine Needles has hosted several major competitions, including three U.S. Women’s Opens, the latest in 2007.
The next day’s competition took place at Mid-Pines, the resort’s companion 18-hole layout. Ross also designed this course, in addition to several others in the area, including Pinehurst No. 2 at the nearby Pinehurst Resort.
The tournament’s last round was held on the Dogwood course at the Country Club of North Carolina, in Pinehurst. Ellis Maples designed this beautiful track, with the pines along the fairways edged by white dogwoods and the occasional red azaleas.
By the time we reached the CCNC course, however, many writers had experienced more than a few examples of classic Ross architectural challenges.
For example, Ross is famous among golf course design fans for his gently mounded greens, with the greenside edges trimmed tightly on all sides. Any approach shot that is not hit in just the right spot has a distinct tendency to roll off the green, presenting the nervous golfer with a chipping challenge.
Chip too hard, and the ball can easily roll off the other side of the green. Chip too softly up the shaven slope, and the ball can easily roll backward, farther from the green.
After watching my fellow writers struggle a bit at Pine Needles, I suggested that they’d been “Rossed.”
They readily agreed that “Ross” can be a highly appropriate verb.
We began using the term at every opportunity, both on that day and the next at Mid-Pines.
My preferred solution to the Ross mounds was to avoid chipping, and simply putt the ball instead - sometimes from several yards off the green. That worked fairly well, including a few putts holed from off the green.
During the third round at the Country Club of North Carolina, however, I also managed to pull a shot or two into the ponds. Another writer suggested that perhaps I had been “Mapled.”
That actually made sense to me, under the circumstances.
The GWAA tournament is traditionally held the week before the Master’s Tournament, as it was this year. Several competitors were heading down to Augusta after our tournament, while the rest of us returned to our regular golf writing assignments.
Last year’s championship took place at the World Golf Hall of Fame near Jacksonville, Fla. This was the first year that the competition was held in the Pinehurst area, and most if not all of the writers were very pleased at the course conditions, the accommodations, and the dining options among the area’s restaurants.
The first night’s dinner took place in the Pine Needles dining room, attended by all of us. I joined another golf writer the next night for dinner at Southern Prime, a new steakhouse in Southern Pines with a very good wine selection. For our last night’s meal, we enjoyed a very pleasant dinner at the Pine Crest Inn, a charming old-style hotel in the heart of Pinehurst Village.
Judging from the comments on the last day, it sounded like the GWAA tournament organizers were hoping to return to Pinehurst for next year.
I would be perfectly fine with that - Rossing or no Rossing.