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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Pinehurst Number One

I had the chance to play Pinehurst Number 1 the other day. This Donald Ross gem, designed in 1901, measures 6089 yards and plays to a par of 70. The Pinehurst guide points out that the yardage can be misleading, as Ross used mules to create this course, incorporating the "raw contours and undulations of the natural terrain, creating a very playable course and a favourite for a great starting round." Harry Vardon is quoted as having said, "It is very sporty, no two holes alike. You have 18 holes which it will be a great pleasure to any golfer to play over."

It was definitely a joy to play, despite being caught in a torrential downpour, which providentially led to me being joined by three caddies who were having a skins game but were willing to let me tag along. I struggled mightily on the greens, and, after a double-crossed fairway bunker shot ricocheted off a pine and ended up out of bounds, was happy to forget the scorecard and started smelling the azaleas and appreciating the master's work in designing such a beautiful and challenging golf course.

I was rewarded with a par on the 222 yard par 3 twelfth hole, despite my Sunday-best three wood off the tee ending up short of the putting surface, and happily ended the day with a birdie out of the bunker on the closing par 5. I was left feeling there might just be hope for this old, half-crippled warrior if I don't lose my sense of humour and Can learn to putt! Sometimes, it's best to just lose your pencil and enjoy the walk. 

I feel so fortunate to have visited this golfing Mecca and to have played a couple of courses designed by a master architect and played by some of the game's great players. Tomorrow, I have one more crack at Number 1 before packing the van and heading back to Canada where the snow has finally melted.