I’ve been anxiously awaiting this long weekend because it has been a while since I’ve headed out town to stay a night somewhere and golf. I struggled a little trying to figure out where I wanted to go though. The Philadelphia area was high on my list as well as Knoxville, TX and West Virginia. I “settled” on the Pinehurst area because I was worried that the long winter might have kept the course conditions at the northern locations from being their best and it is around this time that the rates drop at the Pinehurst courses. Plus, I wouldn’t have to drive very far once I got there as all of the courses are close to each other. I don’t have any desire to pay hundreds of dollars for a round of golf so the Pinehurst Resort was not on list at least for this trip. I’m not sure I’ll ever make it to the No. 2 course (where the U.S. Open is being held this year) because of the price, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about golf in this area.
I am falling a bit behind in my reviews and actually have a review to post for a fun little course that I played locally last weekend. However, I am going to try to keep this as current as possible on my trip during my down time. I got up early today and left Charlottesville around 4am. I booked a 9am tee time at Whispering Woods and planned on it taking about 4 hours to get there. It worked out to be about 4 hours and 15 minutes which got me to the course early enough to hit some golf balls, or so I thought. When I checked in I found out that the course doesn’t have a driving range. I’ve been hitting it pretty bad and wanted to try to find a swing before the round. Normally, no range doesn’t bother me and I don’t put any weight on it when typing the review. Just like I don’t care how the clubhouse looks or if the cart girl came around enough times. In the end the mistake is mine as I should have booked a time at a course that has a range. I headed over to the 1st tee around 8:45 figuring that my game wouldn’t be any good, and I was right. My poor play made the round drag along, but I fell in love with the area after just a few holes. I love playing courses with pine trees and that is all that is around. I’m guessing that the setting for the course is typical of others locally, but it was very peaceful to play through all the pines and I loved their smell. The area has some elevation change and the sandy soil allows for a rugged look to some of the holes, at least at the two courses that I’ve played so far locally. This course had some nice looking waste bunkers which added to the rugged feel.
Whispering Woods is a shorter course by today’s standards and the Championship tees only play 70.8/134/6324. The course actually plays shorter than the yardage because of some doglegs. The course was designed in the 1970’s by Ellis Maples who is actually the father of Dan Maples. Dan is know for some impressive course designs. I don’t know much about Dan Maples courses so I cannot compare the two, but I was left scratching my head on numerous occasions here. I was hitting the fairways for the first third of my round and felt like I was getting kicked in the face instead of being rewarded. I would hit in play and end up with a stance that should move the ball the opposite way of where it needed to go. I was faced with downhill lies when I needed to hit the ball high so I’d say make sure to try to find a flat part of the fairway. That might mean hitting driver on a short hole where someone would normally hit iron or 3 wood and even laying it back on a longer hole. Trees came into play from the fairway too so there is a lot more needed than just a straight, solid shot. An added difficultly was that there was some slope to the fairways and some tee shots were just blind enough so that I couldn’t figure out exactly how the ball would hit when it landed. The ball did a lot of moving here once it was on the ground.
The other thing that stood out to me were all the false edges on the greens where the ball would trickle 20 or 30 yards away from the hole. I knocked it over the 3rd green in two on the par 5, hit a decent putt, and it rolled 30 yards back towards the tee. I tried to drive my chip into the hill and it ended up coming back to my feet. I had a similar experience on the 8th where my tee shot on the par 3 hit the front left of the green and rolled back into the hazard. I had a chip at it and hit another decent short game shot and it rolled off the other side. The course seemed a little tricked up around the greens. That said, I think that the course has enough birdie holes to offset some of the awkward shots. The course is only 6300 yards and plays to a par of 72 with five par 5’s and five par 3’s. There are a couple really short par 5’s (436 & 437 yards) that can be taken advantage of and in fact, I had just a pitching wedge into one of them. The course has some elevation change and the ball ran out especially on the downhill shots so someone is going have plenty of short iron approaches.
There definitely are some interesting holes at Whispering Woods. The 3rd is the 436 yard par 5 with that severe green where I putted off the other side of the green. I actually hit 3 wood off of the tee for position and had an uphill lie. If I would have hit driver, I could have hit the top of a hill and let it run into a valley in the fairway. The 4th is another par 5 and it is 537 yards. The tee shot is semi-blind and I ended up down the right side of the fairway. From there I was blocked out by some trees from only 190 yards. I hit a layup that hit the center of the fairway and rolled straight right into the water so this is a hole that someone needs to pay attention to. The 9th, a 397 yard par 4, is another odd hole. The tee shot is played past some trees with something less than driver and then it goes almost 90 degrees left to a green surrounded by trouble. The back nine is a little more traditional and flatter at least until the closing holes. The 14th is the short par 5 on the back side and if someone can hug the tree line down the left the ball will hit on the downslope in the fairway. The 15th is a 389 yard par 4 that moves hard left and the tough part is to judge what club to hit off of the tee to carry one hazard, but keep it short of another. The 17th is cut into the side of a hill and then the 18th is a closing par 5 that plays from an elevated tee with a nice view.
As far as the conditions go, the short of it is that I would probably stay away even for the reasonable $39 that I paid for my weekend morning time on Golfnow. The greens were the nicest part of the course and per the website, they were all re-done in 2013. They are bermuda and they were pretty fast. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but every now and then a putt would wobble on what looked like a smooth part of green. I struggle getting the ball to roll off of the face on bermuda so I didn’t make much, but that didn’t have anything to do with the maintenance. The course needed some water as much of it was dried out. Only a couple tee boxes were nice and most didn’t have enough grass to take a clean divot. Plus, many of the tee boxes were uneven which is something that drives me crazy. The 16th tee box was all sanded and some spots in the fairways were the same way. Other parts of the fairway were in good shape and yet other spots were longer so I never knew what I was getting if I hit it in the short grass. Therefore I struggled to cleanly contact an iron.
It was a gorgeous morning and I got around much quicker than I expected as the round only took 3 hours and 15 minutes. I probably could have done better with my course selection, but I don’t plan on this being my last trip to the area so its no big deal.
#1 green looking back:
#4 from 190 yards:
#4 green looking back:
#7 green looking back:
#14 green looking back: