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 tried to take some of what we believed were his (Ross's) 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.”
Hanse said Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's 2011 work on No. 2, which hosted the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open in consecutive weeks, set a high standard for his team. “I told our guys every single day [of the No. 4 project] that I want you to go and look at something on No. 2,” he said. “Just soak that in. 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. “I think it would be a huge mistake to try and replicate, or even come close, to those greens [on No. 2]. If you play the course (No. 4) and try to think your way through it, you'll find that a lot of slopes actually move balls toward the greens.”
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.