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.
Dormie most certainly possesses the best C+C greens I've ever played, with tons of slopes and intrigue to allow the course to play different each day, perfect for member play. The piece of property is the most dramatic of all the courses in the area. The routing makes great use of these slopes within the strategy of the holes, particularly on the dogleg left 4th, the massive par 5 tenth, and the drivable 14th. The course contains many of the design duo's finest holes, with the 17th playing homage to the great hazard template creating an extremely memorable hole to finish off matches. Despite a few less than memorable holes, I firmly believe that Dormie can lay claim to the second best course on a Pinehurst trip
The Dormie Club sits in the shadow of its more famous neighbor just six miles south of its location but make no mistake the Bill Coore / Ben Crenshaw design deserves special attention for any core golfer who makes the trek to Pinehurst -- America's St. Andrews.
When The Dormie Club first opened in 2010 there was a window when the club was open to public play. And it was then that I first played it. That has since changed as the layout is now part of a broader Dormie Club Network which encompasses various clubs scattered around the USA.
The most glaring element when coming to the property is its overall size -- the footprint includes 300+ acres and provides for sufficient undulation throughout. The golf experience is also enhanced considerably because of the absence of pesky housing intrusions. There's also the routing of the course -- you start immediately near to the clubhouse but only return with the final hole.
Golf is clearly the center point emphasis.
The opening two holes work you into the round slowly. They are both par-4 holes and both move in different directions. When you reach the short par-4 3rd you encounter a hole type that has clearly enamored C&C with much of their considerable fan base -- the enticing short par-4. The 3rd is 308 yards but the final third of the hole plays uphill.
The key decision starts at the teeing area. Players have to decide on either a cautious or bold play. A massive bunker fiercely protects the right side. There is an alleyway of fairway located on the left side. Those who opt to lay-up will have a wider fairway landing area but then the pitch shot is lengthier and uphill. Those looking to get nearer to the green face a 285-yard carry -- again uphill. The topography makes the carry even more imposing.
The green includes a false front with two tiers and is angled from back-to-front. Incredibly, so much can happen on such a short hole.
When you reach the par-4 4th you encounter a plunging hole that tempts the bold play from the tee. It's essential to move the ball right-to-left in order to gain the turbo boost from the downslope of the fairway. The fascinating aspect of The Dormie Club is how fairway movements are so intertwined with the design. C&C find ways to include an array of details that play a key role in the strategic dimensions -- is especially so with the fairway at the 4th. The green at first glance seems innocuous but it can quickly inflict scorecard pain if careful through is not applied. There is a pronounced drop-off to the right and one had best hope that bunkers gather one's ball. There is also shoulder embankment on the left and one can use that to propel one's ball to the green but the randomness of the bounce can also mean an array of outcomes.
One of the issues mentioned by players is how some of the walks between the holes can be somewhat lengthy. While in the instances that happens does mean that teeing areas are not immediately next to the preceding green played -- I do not feel the nature of such walk is arduous.
The meat of the outward nine hits its stride when you play holes 5-8. C&C have always been keen enough to know that hole variety in concert with the land one has is central to keeping golfers on their toes and the aforementioned holes fit the bill nicely. The 5th is good two-shot par-4. The uphill blind tee shot at the par-5 6th is thought provoking in determining the exact line for the tee shot. The green also runs away from players who seek the target with a second shot. Going over the green provides a true dead end. The par-3 7th is ever exacting. Sadly, the role of the long par-3 has been placed on the back burner for many architects and I find that to be a true pity. Command of the long iron or hybrid and fairway metal is an essential skill and the 7th calls upon that clear dexterity. The 237-yard hole starts from an elevated tee and the green is diagonally angled -- lower left to back right with frontal bunkers quick to snare the half-hearted play.
The intensity only grows with the stout par-4 8th which plays 489 yards. Golfers must hit a tee shot over a hill and the best angle is moving the ball from right-to-left in order to seize a boost the fairway can provide. The green is located near a cluster of trees that are situated to the left C&C do provide a right shoulder area one can use with the approach. Needless to say, pars are not given away here -- they are earned.
The par-3 9th ends the side with a quality hole. The green is slightly elevated and can usually play into the prevailing wind making club choice paramount. There are two halves and the green is pitched from back-to-front.
The inward journey commences with a scintillating par-5 of 657 yards. The fairway area contains a lower and upper fairway area. It's best to play to the upper half so that you have a wider playing angle for the 2nd shot. The strongest of players can contemplated cutting corner on this dog-leg left hole but one will need a hefty all-carry hit of 322 yards to do so. C&C are ardent believers that no meaningful reward can be bestowed without a severe risk in finding a penalty area when failing.
The hole works its way around the penalty area and the landing area for the 3rd shot does become narrower as you near the target. Kudos to C&C because par-5 holes need not be bland or easy prey for the low handicap player who simply put forward brawn over brains. The 10th has a smallish green which runs away from the line and a series of bunkers dot the landscape on the right side.
The uphill 11th forces players to play for a better fairway position than just bang away with impunity from the tee. There is a bunker with wire grass that chokes off the fairway. Playing smartly before it makes the most sense. The approach is then played to slightly elevated green.
The devilish short par-3 12th provides a compelling counterpoint. Now players have to showcase a deft tough to a green that plays uphill and can mean some thought provoking on club selection. The green tilt left and missing right does not augur for a fine future.
The gears change dramatically at the long par-4 13th -- that can stretch to 527 yards. There is a blind tee shot before one gets any boost of yardage from the far side. The best approach angle is from the left side.
C&C keep the adjustments coming with the riveting par-4 14th. The hole plays 306 yards and is a close cousin to their creation of the 14th found at Bandon Trails. The one at Dormie goes uphill -- not downhill like its counterpoint at Bandon Trails. The green is perched above the fairway and there is a large-sized bunker that zealously guards the right area. Players can avoid the bunker and finish to the right but when doing so the bunker becomes a more menacing target as one must loft an uphill approach over its outstretched paws. The same concept one encounters at BT is what you also find at Dormie when playing down the right side. The better play -- albeit with a narrower opening -- is up the left side. Trees and brush await a pulled shot but if the play is successful you are then left with a direct opening to the green with the frontal bunker nothing more than a bystander. The 14th at Dormie will not get the lion's share of attention when held against the one found at BT but the former is no less stingy when it comes to granting birdies.
The par-4 15th that follows keeps the momentum going. The hole starts from an elevated tee to a landing area that is wonderfully angled. The more right you go the greater the carry. In many ways, the hole is comparable to a cape-hole. The deepest carry calls upon a player to produce no less than 300 yards. C&C have smartly added a narrowing landing area for players who seek the boldest of plays. There are also a series of mounds and fairway bunkers on the left. The more right you stay the more visible the green is. There's a high left shoulder which one can use but gauging the bounce and runout are anything but elementary. Finding mid-length par-4 holes less than 400 and greater than 350 is hard to find -- the 15th is simply a superb hole.
The par-3 16th is likely the most underwhelming of holes on the final nine. The hole drops from tee to green but the rich brew of details found at the other holes on the side is not as prevalent.
The penultimate hole may be the finest sub-500-yard par-5 hole that doesn't include water in its presentation. The hole moves uphill while turning left. Strong players may opt to carry the left side -- with a poke of 281 yards. It is a daunting shot but if pulled off can provide plenty of reward for those able to do so.
The key comes with the 2nd shot. Stretching 35 yards deep is a waste bunker area. The placement forces players to decide. Is a carry of 450 yards in two shot worth the effort? The waste area is Dormie's representation of Pine Valley's 7th hole -- "Hell's Half Acre."
Within the waste bunker is sand and wire grass. Those who fail to carry it are left with golf's most dreaded shot -- a longish bunker shot uphill to an elevated green. In short -- good luck with that!
If one wisely lays up, you'll have a 3rd shot approach in the range of 85-110 yards. The green has several riddles to decipher. There's a false front and a tilt of back-to-front with tiers included. So much can happen on this hole -- the strategic dimensions change rapidly based upon the execution of the shots made.
The closing hole is a fine summary. The par-4 generally plays into the prevailing wind and plays 422 yards. There is a cut-off bunker area that stretches across the fairway. From the back teeing area, the carry over it is 308 yards and all but the Herculean of players will opt for more sound decision in laying up before it.
The green is particularly deep -- 53 yards. Club selection is pivotal. The green is also protected by a series of three deep left bunkers which must be avoided. The green tilt right to left and being able to leave with a par on the scorecard is a fine way to end the day.
Overall, Dormie Club has a number of holes where key decisions have to be reached and backed-up with execution of the highest order. There are a few holes which I have noted are fairly ordinary but they are few in number.
C&C have created a portfolio of courses that are truly second to none and The Dormie Club belongs among the second tier of such creations. Turf conditions presented were very good and the firmness of the turf allowed for the bounce of the ball.
Anyone making plans to head to Pinehurst should check out what possibilities are doable to play it.
In short -- Dormie Club delivers.
Amazing course. Long course with some coastal and mountain course elements. Hung but golf course and forest - no houses. Truly something special.
I have played the Dormie Club several times. Initially I was drawn to the course by outside resources which were gaga about the place. I played it and pondered. I played it again. It's a nice course. I made my way back a 3rd time while I was in the area to play elsewhere. It's in a hotbed of nice courses. If I list the courses I would prefer to play just in the Pinehurst area.....Maybe The Dormie could be top 7.....Maybe 5th. It is a fun course and a joy to play and offers many options whilst you play.
On a trip that included Pinehurst, Pine Needles, Tobacco Road and a number of others, this was the best course we played (unanimous among our foursome). The fun factor is off the charts and you're presented with many options. Fantastic bunkering. Interesting greens in great shape. Great mixture of distances in par 3s and par 4s. Themes that our group felt were overshadowed by the Disney-esque aspects of Tobacco Road, so we booked an additional round here on a whim and enjoyed it even more the second time.
Edit: we played Pinehust 4 - not Pinehurst 2.
Dormie Club is located in the Sandhills of North Carolina, near Pinehurst.The course opened in 2010 and was designed by Coore + Crenshaw, who are generally regarded amongst the best in the business. Coore + Crenshaw courses are known for their minimalist designs and Dormie Club is no exception.
The course looks like it has always been there and simply been discovered and carved out of the sandy, wooded, hilly terrain.There is little in the form of a formal rough- the fairways are surrounded by sandy scrub then framed by trees- it has a genuine rustic feel. In general fairways are wide, and the emphasis is on the second shot.
It is reminscent of Royal Melbourne at times with the width off the tee providing players choices with the angles of approach. The greens definitely reward the thinking golfer and challenge the golfer approaching from the wrong spot!!!
When I played in 2016 the infrastructure was still a little rough- cart paths were rough dirt paths. Perhaps things were tight financially? Overall I though the course was outstanding.
The first four holes were superb, and really grabbed our attention with strong, boldly bunkered holes which looked natural in the setting.
The collection of par 3's at Dormie Club are exceptional with each of holes 7, 9, 12, & 16 real gems, but also quite different from each other.
Hole 7 requires a carry over swampy ground with a longer iron or rescue to a green which slopes left to right and is heavily bunkered front and right
Hole 9 also requires a swamp carry with a short accurate iron shot to a green with a sharp drop off at the front. You need to be up!
Hole 12 is the prettiest of the par 3's, and the shortest- requiring only a wedge or 9 iron at most to negotiate the sandy waste and bunkers which cover the entire journey to the smallish green. Accuracy is the key..
Hole 16 is a downhill par 3 requiring a middle iron to a large squarish shaped green surrounded by bunkers. It reminds me strongly of McDonald/Raynor holes and would not have been out of place at Chicago golf Club.
Hole 14 is a top hole as well. A very short par 4 with a severe left to right sloping fairway, the green is defended by 3 factors: - a solitary greenside bunker front right - a large tree on the left side of the fairway, and - the slope of the fairway. Inevitably a decent drive will find most people hitting a short elevated shot over the bunker to hit the green.
Then there is the amazing par 5 seventeenth hole which requires a long and accurate drive to thread between the waiting bunkers each side of the fairway as it turns to the left and climbs. The green sits on top of the hill requiring a long strong strike to get home in two. It will be too much for most as the last 80 metres before the green traverse a spectacular quarry- and that quarry face is a daunting prospect to carry.... Many will be better off to lay up and try to hit the green in three, I would suggest.
Overall I rate Dormie Club highly. There is nice variation in the holes, with a good mix of short and long par 4's, and some great par 3's. However while there are no bad holes I thought the start of the back nine was a little quieter than the rest of the course, with little bunkering... I am not sure why?
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
A course that rivals those of nearby Pinehurst. Must play if you travel to the sand hills
The reviews below are each so thorough that there is very little for me to add. Dormie Club is certainly among the strongest courses in the Sandhills, and its minimalist modern Coore/Crenshaw routing makes it challenging, but also provides strategic options. Dormie falls under my category of very playable every day.
Some of the most memorable holes at Dormie for me include:
• #1: After a steep downhill tee shot, I believe the real genius in the routing here is the subtle uphill approach. During my first round, I did not plan for enough additional yardage and ended up well short of this green. The two bunkers situated far from the green are visually intimidating, but hint at the days of past – perhaps the best shot into this elevated, back-to-front sloping green is actually on the ground?
• #3: This short par four was one of my favorites. With a small, sharply undulating green complex, the challenge is clear: if you want to go for this hole in one, your shot must be perfectly on line, as any miss within 50 yards could lead to a very high score.
• #8: This par four’s tee shot is just fabulous – banked into a severe hill with a right-to-left slope, a properly placed drive can pick up another 50 yards in the right conditions.
• #10: True par fives are so rare to come by, but the 10th at Dormie does it right. With width, and various ways to reach the green, it is an absolute adventure.
• #14: I am a sucker for short par fours, and the 14th at Dormie is one of my all-time favorites. With the green banked on the left hand side of this hole, it is so easy to get greedy and try to play the ball down that side. However, even the slightest mis-hit too far left can be devastating. All this must accomplished with terrain running the opposite way. Spectacular!
While Dormie is a standout course overall, I left with a feeling that the course was very calculated. By this, I mean to say…both sides had one short par four with a tiny green, both sides had one long par five, both sides had one short par five with a small green, both sides had a long par three, both sides had a short par three, etc. While I appreciate this balance, it feels a bit manufactured.
Dormie does a wonderful job of capturing the beauty of true Sandhills golf in a layout that one could enjoy every day. I consider Dormie to be the traditionalist’s version of Tobacco Road. That said, if I were splitting 10 rounds between the two, I would still lean toward Tobacco Road.
Recently, we had the pleasure of playing all 9 Pinehurst courses as well as Dormie. Sean Peterson of golftripjunkie.com was instrumental in coordinating our itinerary and at a reasonable price. I heartily recommend Sean and golftripjunkie.com.
After we completed our round at Dormie, my playing partner and sometimes adversary, Moyo, asked me to describe it in one word. I chose “relentless”. He thought that was a good choice. Dormie is a Coore & Crenshaw design. When playing Dormie recognize that it is a par 71. The challenge is the tips are 6800+ yards, the middle 6500+ and the up tees are only 5900+ . If ever a course is screaming for another set of tees, it is Dormie. From the blues it has 6 holes over 400 yards.
When we played conditions were miserable. We were in fact the only group on the tee sheet for the entire day. Thus, pace of play was fantastic and one of us was ensured of being medalist. The first hole is pretty much what you see, however your approach is uphill so take an extra club. The 2nd and 3rd holes are your chances to make hay. On two stay right off the tee to avoid being blocked out. The 3rd is an excellent birdie oppty. Less than 300 yards but it is uphill. The par 4 4th is long and has a diabolical green. Aim left and if the pin is front right just move on to the next hole. The 5th is another long par 4 with a redan water hazard. The carry is much longer than it looks off the tee and if you are right, you better have it hit it well or you will pay the price. If the pin is back everything will roll hard right. The par 5 6th is a blind tee shot. Favor the right as the hole falls off on the left side. The 7th is a 200 yard par 3 that looks easy once you get to 8. The 8th is the number one handicap and at 472 yards from the blue tees godspeed. Moyo would not believe me when I told him it was a par 4. No, it is not downhill. The tee shot is slightly uphill and the 2nd shot downhill to set up your wedge to the green. If the pin is right aim at the collar, it will go hard left. I would describe it as a mediocre par 5 and an impossible par 4.
The 8th was just the warm up for the par 5 10th weighing in at 632 yards. It is a dogleg left with the 2nd shot needing to carry gunch. Three really good shots and you will be rewarded with a par. The 11th is another long par 4 uphill. The 12th is really the only gimme hole. An uphill 108 yard par 3, take an extra club. The 13th is another long par 4 and is the number 2 handicap. The short par 4 14th, is really your last breather. The 15th is a dogleg right and it is all about how big your appetite is on flying the gunch ravine. The short par 5 17th looks easy on the card, but will require 3 good shots. It has an extremely elevated green with a huge gunch waste bunker in front of it. If you hit a good drive, you probably can only hit your second shot 180 yards. This will leave you about 115 yards out. It is at least an extra club and probably two if the pin is middle or back. The front of the green will reject short shots. Not surprisingly, the 18th is another 400+ yard par 4. The fairway is bisected with a waste area about 250 yards off the tee. On your approach, do not miss left.
Heck of a course, I am exhausted by reliving it. Not a fun course, but tough, demanding and relentless
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