Another minimalist creation from the Coore & Crenshaw design team, Dormie Club lies to the north of the Pinehurst Resort in a tract of sandy, wooded terrain that extends to just over 300 acres. It’s a course that's been well received by those in the know since it first opened for play in 2010 so there’s no doubt this 18-hole layout is destined for greater things in terms of its future ranking position.
Fairway width is a characteristic attributed to many of the holes here, allowing golfers the opportunity to find the best angle into whatever pin position they are playing to. Proper rough doesn’t really exist beside many of the fairways, with playing corridors simply melting into the native sandy-scrub wasteland.
A round begins with five straight par fours, only one of which measures less than 400 yards from the back tees. Stroke index 1, the 477-yard long par four 8th is sandwiched between the only two par threes on the front nine at holes 7 and 9. On the back nine, the 307-yard par four 14th is a fine short par four that plays uphill to a green sloping sharply from back left to front right.
This is a really good modern design in the heart of the Pinehurst sand hills. The course is fairly hilly and flows down to and around a lake, but the water is essentially never in play here. The design team of Coore/Crenshaw used the land to great advantage and worked the routing very well around the sometimes steep slopes. The fairways are fairly generous, but after playing the course once you realize there is definitely preferred path from the tee to the green that needs to be utilized. On the down side this would be a hard course to walk and some of the women’s tees were ridiculously long ( 10 is a 571-yard par 5 from the front tee. Yikes!). I enjoyed the club and would certainly play here again.
Read my full story: The Sandhills – high-class designs outside Pinehurst
Last summer while in the Pinehurst area I had the pleasure of a 2ndvisit to Dormie Club. I’ve yet to find a Coore & Crenshaw course I really didn’t like. This one is full of great holes but is not without some quirks in the routing that make walking it feel a little disjointed for me. I’ve walked it once and rode once and would say the course leans in the direction of being a cart ball course. It is still very walkable it just doesn’t quite flow right when walking with some of the links between green and next tee.
As a side story, not architecture related, this day was the kind of day that everything went right. Sometimes we have those days as golfers (though rarely unfortunately). My daughter (16) was my caddie on the day. This was part of a Father’s Day gift she had given me by way of a coupon book with several creative things I could redeem. Imagine her surprise when I pulled out the coupon and told her I was cashing it in. Why is this relevant you may ask? Well, on the 12thhole I had my first ever hole in 1. Amazing given she had never really caddied for me before and she was there to see it happen. Clearly she thinks this happens all the time now. I also felt as though I couldn’t really miss a putt on the day and ended with an ace and 4 birdies, trust me that’s not my normal golf but it was a very special day with a very special caddie not to mention a friend who is a pro who had also joined and witnessed the fun.
Naturally experiences affect how most of us see courses and I’m most likely not above that to some extent though other than giving Dormie a special place in my heart my view of the course still remains unaltered. Though I suppose I now have to say 12 is my favorite hole.
The Dormie Club is a nice complement to any trip among the Pinehurst courses and Pine Needles nearby, and a real treat. As a fan of the Coore Crenshaw portfolio, I was excited to play the course and it did not disappoint. The course required a great variety of shots and certainly followed the minimalist, follow-the-terrain approach of its authors. I do think that opportunity was lost at the design stage with a few of the targets, where maybe moving a little more earth would have created more interest and chiseled the greens a bit more dramatically. On the other hand, holes like the short par 3 12th provide a picturesque challenge that stay languidly in the memory. Finished in a downpour. Without prompt or expectation, the clubhouse spontaneously refunded part of the green fees because it was raining. Unprecedented for this humble pilgrim. - Jake Starr
What’s really great about the course is the sheer variety of holes, the playability and given their uniqueness the ease with which you can remember all of them. There is an excellent mix of short and long par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s, great topographical changes and wonderful land that C&C managed to make the most of.
There is one point that I’d really like to make to anyone that plays Dormie when in the area and I think this is a huge plus point. To my knowledge most of the courses in the Pinehurst area are built with Bermuda grass which has specific playing characteristics that to my experience for a large part reward target golf as opposed to allowing a wider variety of shots utilizing the ground to be played. This might vary in dry conditions or when the turf is dormant however, in general there is a huge playability plus to the kind of golf that I enjoy more with the turf and greens at Dormie Club. These have been created with fine bent grasses that serve perfectly to fast and firm playing conditions.
While I certainly can’t think of a hole I didn’t like one might suggest if being critical that the 18th does not serve as the type of high impact finishing hole one might expect on such an excellent course. It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong, just not quite a spectacular as other holes on the back 9.
My favorite holes were 5, 12, and 17. The par 4 5th hole is a light dogleg left monster at 430 yds and plays slightly uphill after a demanding tee shot over a lake to a fairways that gently slopes left to right. The approach is a mid to long iron and can be ran into the green. The par 3 12th hole is a classic short par 3 with a beautiful green and some great tricky pin positions. It’s framed wonderfully with trees and waste area. Finally the par 5 17th is reminiscent of Pine Valley. A great risk reward hole where a strong drive allows you to go for the green in two but to do so you have to take on the up hill second shot over the waste area which is really a spectacular approach and difficult to judge given the rise in elevation.
If you’re in the area for a golf trip, make the effort to get out here.