Situated five miles east of Pinehurst, the Mid Pines and Pine Needles golf courses are part of the same resort, separated by Midland Road, which divides the two 18-hole layouts. Both layouts are Donald Ross tracks that were constructed for the owning Tufts family, with the Mid Pines course opening in 1921, seven years before its sibling appeared.
Feature holes include the uphill 330-yard 4th, played to a green that drops away sharply on its right side, the 380-yard left doglegged 12th, the 391-yard right doglegged 17th and the 411-yard closing hole, where the home green is beautifully back dropped by the elegant Inn at Mid Pines hotel.
There’s plenty of authentic
Ross here, thanks largely to a sympathetic restoration carried out in 2013 by
Kyle Franz (former shaper for Tom Doak, Gil Hanse and Kyle Phillips) which
received plenty of critical acclaim, such as: “there’s no doubt Franz
delivered. Mid Pines was always a good course, but it now positively crackles
with new life.”
Excellent Donald Ross course. Old traditions feel from the clubhouse to the course. The course is absolutely fantastic, but I wish they had a little more TLC in the bungalows surrounding the clubhouse. The Inn and clubhouse are very nostalgic and nice.
I had the opportunity to play Mid Pines while on a golf trip to the Carolinas in January. Rolling the dice on forecast, we got lucky to have a warm 60 degree day. Standing on the first tee over looking the tee shot as well as being able to see a few other of the holes was definitely special. The first two holes were premier openers to an all around good round. Outside of the first two holes, another hole that stood out to me was the ninth (par 4 340). For players with longer distance, it was an exhilarating exercise to try to cut as much of the corner off so that one can be left with a little flip wedge. Missing right leaves one in the forest and missing left leaves an awkward long bunker shot where going from sand to sand is in play.
Although the course did not feel as if it there were as many strategic golf shots as Pine Needles, I did find that the course was much more visually appealing.
Mid Pines is the quintessentially charming Carolina sandhills golf experience, packaged in a restored classic Ross design governed by a stately old clubhouse watching over the 18th hole. Kelly Miller has done a fantastic job of bringing in Kyle Franz to restore the Southern Pines trio of courses, Mid Pines, Pine Needles and Southern Pines, and Mid Pines deserves top billing among those three. We were very impressed by the maturity of the restored waste areas given the recency of the renovation; in 2020 these wastes were better grown in than No. 4.
We stayed on the 10th fairway in a group of 20 playing 36 in fall 2020, alternating Mid Pines and Tobacco Road over three days of golf, and each of our golfers were delighted and engaged by the classic early 20th century feel of Mid Pines. Mid Pines is worth a visit to the area regardless of whether the trip also includes Pinehurst, Dormie or Tobacco Road. It is a gem.
Some favored experiences over the 18 include the Par 3s, which each sit perfectly into rolling terrain, crowned greens or waste as if they were purely laid out. The Par 4 16th is an absolute cathedral of golf as highrise pines line the swooping fairway on each side of the dogleg left, the hole playing downhill from a hillside tee box over waste. The best view is back up the dogleg from the fairway landing area to get a real sense of the scale of the elevation that you just played down. The 18th closes into the clubhouse with an approach shot that has literally been painted and reproduced in watercolor. The 18th green slopes severely from back to front, while the green narrows as the slope increases, requiring the player to achieve precision to stay beneath the hole. These are not the only good holes on the 18 - they are all fantastic and worthy of discussion in their own right.
The conditioning was top flight during our visit and the staff could not be more generous, working a large group through their property and facilities. The facilities are a bit dated inside the clubhouse such that our guests were more comfortable in the cabins than the main lodge; taken in small doses that is charming, in larger doses, not so much.
After our Saturday morning round at Tobacco Road, we lined chairs along the fairway and watched the final groups of the day play through the Par 5 10th, a straightaway Par 5 with waste pinching fairway and green and a semi-blind approach shot that can catch a back bunker. As the last group passed through, a few of us walked out to 100 yards with a wedge, barefoot, and took a few last shots at the 10th pin as the sun set behind the trees. This type of magical golf experience is as special as it is rare in today's game, and provided a lifelong memory for all of us.
Mid Pines is pure Ross, best caught in quiet golden light early morning or late afternoon, and in that glowing solitude, it is simply magnificent.
Played on 6/27/22. Quite underwhelming to be honest. The course has a good layout but it seems like maintenance has gone downhill. The tee boxes weren’t well kept, lots of bare spots and very hard soil. The greens were in great shape and definitely the best part of the course, they were much receptive and slower than Pine Needles. Aesthetically the course was not great. Lots of overgrown weeds along the tree line and around water/marsh areas. One hole, I hit my ball 10-15 yards off the fairway and was in the middle of their pine cone dumping area it seemed. Would rate Pine Needles way above Mid Pines.
Solid course. A lot of fun. It’s a typical old school Ross course - if that’s your thing.
Mid Pines is the perfect example of a classic Donald Ross course. Tight but fair fairways, turtle back greens with false fronts and classic Ross bunkering. Short distances from green to tee make this an easy walk which I would recommend if you are able. Conditioning was great and it was pretty wide open for a mild November afternoon. Be sure to check out the classic locker room while onsite.
If you love golf, Mid Pines scratches every itch. Compared to Pine Needles across the street, it is a much smaller, more intimate piece of property, but it does not feel claustrophobic at any point. The 2013 renovation by Kyle Franz to bring the sandscape into play on every hole resembles that of the work at Pinehurst #2, but this course has much more land movement. If there is a weakness, it would be the third hole with a blind tee shot over a pond as it is very out of character for the golf course, but it is a minor blemish. Of all the Ross courses in the sandhills, this one feels the most untouched. The par 3's are as good as any I've played, and the par 5's are fantastic as well. If you are in the Pinehurst area and skip Mid Pines, you are 100% missing out.
An early morning walk through this peaceful routing feels like a trip back to the golden age. The experience is more than the sum of its parts, with the light, sandy pine areas, and undulation evoking a unique sense of place.
What's more the golf itself firmly holds your attention throughout. Spectacular green complexes will reject mishits. Great conditions allow offline putts to funnel and funnel and roll and roll until the entire group can do nothing but laugh. I love a course that feels very challenging without coming off as an exhausting brute. Mid Pines does exactly that and enters my top 3 in the area along with Dormie and #2.
I'm fortunate to have played this course post-renovation and in great condition. The course's windswept, sandy pines aesthetic is amazing. There is just enough openness on the property to see a few holes from each shot. The routing is great for strategy and walkability, and there is more elevation change than is apparent from photographs. The greens are really fierce and they toasted me to the tune of 6 three putts (I will put some of this on my rust and on the pin positions the day we played). This didn't significantly detract from the fun of the course but did make us want to get back soon.
The course demands a lot of players considering its modest length. As others have said, part of this is due to approach shots playing up to elevated greens. The other issue I ran into is an inability to take advantage of the short par 5s due to their strategic defense from 100 yards in (well... that and my putting- see above).
I believe the course to be seriously underrated in (some of) the magazine rankings. This may be a function of raters needing to get back after the renovation, but the quality of the golf experience is top notch.
I'd recommend to play in the winter, particularly if you have some flexibility and can wait for good weather. Fantastic deal at the offering rate.