When the U.S. Amateur Championship returns to Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., for the third time from Aug. 12-18, 2019, the 312 competitors will play two stroke-play rounds to determine the 64 qualifiers for match play.
The iconic Course No. 2 – site of three previous U.S. Open Championships and a fourth slated for 2024 – will be used in stroke play and host all of the matches, while the stroke-play co-host venue will be Course No. 4, just as it was for the most recent U.S. Amateur contested at Pinehurst in 2008.
Following an extensive 2018 renovation by Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and the rest of their design team, the landscape of Course No. 4 has dramatically changed. In October, the new-look Course No. 4 reopened to Pinehurst members and resort guests.
Here are five things you need to know about the new layout.
Hanse makes it clear that his work on Course No. 4 was not a faithful restoration of the original layout Donald Ross created in 1919. “That course doesn’t exist,” Hanse said, acknowledging previous redesigns over the past century by Peter Tufts, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Rees Jones and Tom Fazio. “We looked at old aerial photos and tried to take some of Ross’s bunker placement, and some of what we believed were his strategies, and did incorporate some of those. There’s a tiny bit of restoration wrapped around a giant renovation, with a couple of [entirely] new golf holes. We just looked at it as a new golf course.”
“When you look across [Course] No. 2 and see what Bill [Coore] and Ben [Crenshaw] were able to do there back in 2011, they did a phenomenal job,” said Hanse, referring to the renovation of the layout that hosted the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in consecutive weeks. “For us to be able to walk through their work every day, it was a great inspiration. I told our guys every single day that I want you to go and look at something on No. 2. Look at the features, the subtleties and how the fairways just bleed into the wire grass, which then bleeds right into the trees.”
“We’ve always looked at No. 4 not as a tribute course, but as more of a companion course to No. 2,” said Hanse. “The greens and surrounds on No. 2 generally repel balls. We have a couple of greens like that [such as the fifth hole], but most of them are more accepting than rejecting of shots.”
Hanse and his team reduced total turf acreage by approximately 40 percent and replaced 180 pot bunkers with larger natural sandscapes and native vegetation, including wiregrass and broomsedge plants. Approximately 600,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved during the project. This not only gives the course a more rustic look, but also makes the course more environmentally friendly by reducing water usage.
Course No. 4’s most challenging hole comes early in the round at the fifth, the longest par 4 on the course. Drives that catch the top of a slope in the fairway will roll forward, leaving a likely shot from a downhill lie to a green with a false front. The green is also one of the few on No. 4 that resembles those found on No. 2, potentially repelling less-than-perfect long-iron approaches. A large bunker positioned well below the green on the right must be avoided.
Arizona resident Tom Mackin is a frequent contributor to USGA websites. Email him at email@example.com.