Olympic architect Gil Hanse to "re-imagine" Pinehurst No. 4

Olympic architect Gil Hanse to "re-imagine" Pinehurst No. 4

Tom Fazio's 2000 tribute to Donald Ross to be redesigned and rerouted

Reid Spencer Publisher
image (Metro Golf Magazines File Photo)
The 10th hole at Pinehurst No. 2, emblematic of the minimalistic character that will be incorporated into Pinehurst No. 4.

Nice knowing you, Tom Fazio.

There won’t be much left of your challenging—and in some quarters, controversial—design of the No. 4 course at Pinehurst Resort.

The course still billed as “Tom Fazio’s Tribute to Pinehurst” (and specifically to Donald Ross) on the resort’s website won’t be germane when work begins in the fall of 2017 to re-imagine Pinehurst No. 4 in the image of the Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore 2011 restoration of Pinehurst’s renowned No. 2 course, which hosted the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open back-to-back in 2014.

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club announced on Thursday that Hanse Golf Design will redesign Pinehurst No. 4 and develop a short course as part of a master plan to restore further the original character and spirit to the Pinehurst golf experience.

Gone will be Fazio’s tribute, which detractors have decried as too difficult and too extreme. In its place will be a minimalistic layout mirroring the character of the original Ross era. As is the case with Pinehurst No. 2, the proportion of turfgrass will shrink, producing a lower-maintenance, more eco-friendly design.

It’s not that Fazio won’t still have an imprint in the Sandhills. Pinehurst No. 6 and No. 8 still bear his name as designer. But Pinehurst No. 4, which re-opened with considerable fanfare after Fazio’s redesign in 2000, will not.  

Beginning this winter and unfolding in several stages over the next few years, the Pinehurst Resort master plan also includes restoring Donald Ross’ original characteristics to Pinehurst No. 1 and No. 3 while also enhancing Maniac Hill and Thistle Dhu.

“There’s a unique character at Pinehurst because of the landscape Donald Ross found when he arrived in 1900,” said Bob Dedman, Pinehurst Owner and CEO.  “Back then, he may have been a minimalist by necessity, but we’re making a choice to present our historic golf courses in a natural state similar to that era.”

Pinehurst’s migration toward more natural settings began with the highly-acclaimed 2011 restoration of Pinehurst No. 2, which took the course back to Ross’ vision. The course that hosted the Opens in 2014 was vastly different from the U.S. Open course on which Michael Campbell won the U.S. Open in 2005.

The success of that project, shown in the enthusiasm of guests and members, was influential in the decision to revive more original characteristics, while creating new elements reflective of Pinehurst’s origins.

“The overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from the work on No. 2 encouraged us to explore options that are a continuation of that effort,” Dedman said. “We think this is a thoughtful approach to the evolution of golf at Pinehurst, and we think Gil Hanse, with his timeless and natural design philosophy, is the right person for the project.”

The centerpiece of the plan will be Gil Hanse’s complete redesign of No. 4. Hanse’s design and routing, which seeks to create a landscape similar to Pinehurst No. 2, will include exposed sand and native wire grass, wider fairways and natural topography. The project is scheduled to begin in fall 2017 with the course reopening in fall 2018.

“We think this approach will create a more authentic, visually interesting golf course and one that feels in tune with its unique surrounds,” said Hanse, whose portfolio of original designs includes The Olympic Golf Course in Brazil, and whose restoration projects include The Country Club, Los Angeles Country Club, Myopia Hunt Club, Merion Golf Club and Oakland Hills Country Club, among others.

“A playable, artfully shaped and conceived golf course that derives its character and appearance from the traditional golf flavor of this region is what we aspire for in our approach to Pinehurst No. 4.”

Hanse also will design a short course on 10 acres of property currently occupied by the first holes on No. 3 and No. 5. A routing is currently being developed for the course that is expected to have 8-to-12 holes and feature many of the same slopes and contours that create multiple options and inspire creative play on No. 2. The project is scheduled to begin in summer 2017 and open in fall 2017.

“Fun and skill development are the most important concepts behind the short course,” said Tom Pashley, Pinehurst President and COO. “Whether you’re an avid amateur, a beginning golfer, or on an outing with golf buddies or family, the short course will offer an experience that can be enjoyed by all.”

In addition to the redesign of No. 4 and creation of a short course, No. 1 and No. 3 will eventually undergo restoration work designed to return elements of Ross’s original designs.

The plan also calls for changes to Maniac Hill, the country’s first driving range, that will infuse the natural elements associated with No. 2. It also includes moving and expanding Thistle Dhu, the putting course that has become a popular experience.


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