Steve Pike Anywhere: The Sandhills

The Sandhills of North Carolina is a renowned North Carolina Golf region, formed from ancient beaches, from a time when the coastline and oceanic levels were higher, the North Carolina Sandhills divide the Piedmont region from the Coastal Plains regions of the state, where the weather is great year-round and where quality golf opportunities are abundant.

PINEHURST, N.C. – The Sandhills area here consistently earns its nickname, “The Home of American Golf.” That became even more evident this past month with the U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship (won by Helen Alfredsson) at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, and will continue Aug. 12-18 for the 119th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst.

Pine Needles is the first golf resort to be awarded four U.S. Women’s Open Championships, which is only fitting that the resort was owned by the late Peggy Kirk Bell, one of the more influential women in the history of American golf.

The resort’s first U.S. Women’s Open Championship was held in 1996, when Annika Sorenstam took home the trophy. Karrie Webb won the 2001 championship at Pine Needles, and Cristie Kerr claimed the 2007 title. In addition to hosting the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship, Pine Needles will also be the home of the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open Championship.

Pinehurst Resort and the USGA have a relationship spanning decades and the resort has served as the site of more single golf championships than any destination in America. The 2019 U.S. Amateur will be the 10th USGA championship to be hosted by the club and the ninth since 1989. It will be the third U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst and the first since 2008.

In 2024, the U.S. Open will return to Pinehurst and be the 11th USGA championship to be hosted by the resort – the 10th in the past 35 years.”

Pine Needles’ award-winning golf course is the first in the nation to be awarded four U.S. Women’s Open Championships, and named the No. 4 golf course in the state by Golfweek, the course was designed by the legendary Donald Ross in 1927, and meticulously restored by Kyle Franz in 2017 and today the course spans more than 7,000 yards with each rolling hill and fairway bunker reimagined to reflect the challenges Ross envisioned nearly a century ago.

“This is an exciting golf season for our area,’’ said Phil Werz, president and CEO of the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The national television and media exposure for our destination is invaluable and will reinforce our recognition as the ‘Home of American Golf’.

When the 2019 championship begins on Aug. 12, Pinehurst’s fabled No. 2 Course and Course No. 4 (recently renovated by Gil Hanse) will host the stroke-play rounds, which will be played over two days and 36 holes to trim the field from 312 players to 64 for match play. The first five rounds of match play — through the semifinals — will be played on No. 2 – Donald Ross’s masterpiece – Aug. 14-17.

The championship match, scheduled for Aug. 18, will open with the morning round on No. 4. The afternoon round will be played on No. 2, which was restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2011. It will be the first time the 36-hole U.S. Amateur Championship final is contested over two courses.

It will also mark the second groundbreaking collaboration between the USGA and Pinehurst in five years. In 2014, Pinehurst hosted the U.S. Open (won by Martin Kaymer) and U.S. Women’s Open (won by Michelle Wie) in consecutive weeks on Course No. 2 — the only time the same course hosted those two championships in back-to-back weeks.

According to Hanse, the setup for the U.S. Amateur represent a symbiotic relationship that exists between Pinehurst Resort Courses No. 2 and 4.

“No. 4 is a companion in the landscape, but it is not a tribute to No. 2 in the features,” he said. “The greens are different, the approaches are different and we wanted to take advantage of the landforms, which are much more dramatic than those on No. 2.”

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career includes covering Major League Baseball, the NFL and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the web site for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California. He lives in Delray Beach, Fla, and can be reached at

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