1600 Morganton Road,
North Carolina (NC) 28374,
- +1 910 692 6565
2 miles SE of Pinehurst
Members and their guests only
Ellis Maples and Willard Byrd, Kris Spence
The Dogwood course at the Country Club of North Carolina is an Ellis Maples and Willard Byrd design that comprises half the golfing challenge at a fine 36-hole facility. Both courses date back to the 1960s and the Dogwood, like the Cardinal, occupies rolling sandhill terrain close to the Pinehurst Resort.
Founded in 1963, the Country Club of North Carolina is a gated residential establishment that’s comprised of two separate communities, each of which enjoys the sporting amenities of tennis, swimming and golf within an enormous 2,000-acre property. It’s true to say the 36-hole golf complex and three recreational lakes are much in demand for the privileged homeowners who live here.
The Dogwood is five years the senior of the two 18-hole layouts, making its debut in 1963, and it’s played host to a couple of USGA events since it first opened for play. The 1980 US Amateur Championship was won at this venue by a then 22-year old Hal Sutton then, more recently, Doris Chen claimed the US Girls’ Junior Championship in 2010.
Apart from the 153-yard 3rd, which plays to an island green, the more memorable holes on the Dogwood are encountered on the back nine, with many of the fairways routed around the shimmering waters of Watson Lake. Best of these is probably the 204-yard 16th, which plays across the northern corner of the lake.After almost forty years of use, Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest renovated both courses over a period of four years, starting in 1999. Fifteen years later in 2016, Kris Spence performed another renovation, which tackled resurfacing and expanding the greens, remodeling bunkers, improving drainage and removing trees.
Dogwood is a beautifully manicured course set in majestic pines. The course winds around and over the shores of two lakes. Over the years it has consistently rated as one of the best courses in North Carolina- a state where good golf courses are a given... It is just a pleasure to play.
It is not tricked up in any way- what you see is what you get!. The fairways are immaculate, and the putting surfaces are firm and pure as the driven snow- and quick! It takes some getting used to. With subtle movement throughout- they will examine your ability to judge both line and length.
You will need to bring your 'A' game to play here, and on the holes where the lake is in play (and there are many)- staying dry becomes a major focus.
There are nine holes that touch on the lakes- 3, 4 & 5, 11, 13, 15-18- these are the holes that are the most memorable on Dogwood. They are attractive to the point of being a distraction, but are good golf holes with strong strategic design.
The holes that don’t involve the lakes are generally not as visual but are still quality golf holes, beautifully bunkered, with elevated greens framed by the pine trees and dogwood.
Dogwood is a pretty course, but also one of strategic merit. Most of the trouble is able to be seen, so it is a fair course with forward tees to suit all level of golfer.
Notable holes include:
- hole 3, a downhill par 3 to an island green
- hole 4, a gorgeous mid length par 4 along the lake
- hole 5, a teasing par 5 with a pond in front of the green
- hole 11, a remarkable dogleg par 4 with water right off the tee. The same lake needs to be carried for the approach.
- hole 13, a strong downhill par 3
- hole 15, a long par 4 with lake backdrop
- hole 16, a long water carry par 3
- hole 18, the big finish is a unique par 5 with water in play off the tee and a climb to the final green
With two wonderful courses CCNC members must be pinching themselves. I can only imagine just what a joy it would be to play Dogwood on regular basis.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Generally regarded as one of the best golf courses in the state, the Country Club of North Carolina’s Dogwood Course has sat on my bucket list for years. Just recently, the opportunity to check off both the Dogwood and the Cardinal arose, and I eagerly made my way to the Sandhills.
Two notable aspects of the CCNC experience were ingrained upon me before my round even began. The first was the incredible hospitality shown to me and my playing partner by the staff. Every single employee we encountered – from bag attendants, to food servers, to the starter, to Mr. Jeff Dotson the head professional – treated us as if we were a seasoned member. Each went out of their way to make us feel welcome, and that type of greeting is hard to forget.
The second was the unbelievably superb playing conditions present on both courses. My praise for CCNC’s superintendent and their staff knows no bounds. Fairways were springy and every lie was perfect; the rough was thick and actually played like a true, unpredictable hazard; and, the Bermuda greens rolled exceptionally true with virtually no impact from grain. If ever there was an argument for more Zoysia grass fairways in the Sandhills, look no further than CCNC for an answer. While I do weight routing and layout more when I rate courses, CCNC’s playing surfaces are too pristine to ignore. Of 101 courses played in North Carolina, CCNC’s conditioning was comfortably top three.
Featuring gentle terrain, great disparity in hole lengths, and a mix of shot shaping opportunities, the Dogwood’s championship style tests virtually all aspects of your game. Standout holes for me include:
• #3: The island-green par three third was one such example of this compelling variety. After opening with two dogleg lefts, each requiring a solid mid-iron into the green, the third demands a left-to-right shot shape with a short-iron in hand. Too many courses today are unwilling to leave short par threes like this in a layout. With a deep, narrow green, the seemingly benign chipping area and bunker left actually leaves a difficult up-and-down without much room to work with, and an awkward spine.
• #4: The tee shot at this par four is perplexing. The best angle into this diagonal green is, no doubt, from the right side of the hole. This confused me initially, since there seemed to be no reason to challenge the pond which runs down the entire left side. However, to achieve this angle, one must first carry two large bunkers in the right rough. If they successfully do, the cant of the fairway might actually kick their ball towards the water after all, as the pond juts back into play. Options and trickery abound.
• #5: If playing from the proper tee, this par five might yield a green under-regulation. With a pond short, players must be careful to not spin the ball back. This shallow green was beguiling, as I found out when I laid up to the left. Chipping to the top tier from this side was nearly impossible due to a tough ridge, and I wish I had played more conservatively.
• #6: An uphill par four with a blind tee shot, the architect wisely created a massive putting surface on this very lengthy hole. With a few pocketed tiers, this half-par was very fun to play.
• #10: The short par four tenth was a unique test following five fairly long holes that precede it. With fairway bunkers pinching the ideal landing area, precision rather than length from the tee is a must. From there, players must hit a green that is best attacked from the right side – right where the fairway bunkers lay. A gorgeous, short-grass collection zone sits to the right and beyond this green complex, making any up-and-down truly demanding. Once again, this unique feature created new challenges not yet seen in the round.
• #11: An excellent risk reward tee-shot, any player considering a deep drive over a lake and its bisecting tributary must not only consider water, and short-siding in trees, but also ensuring that they do not fly through the fairway into more water or deep rough.
• #14: Perhaps the most photographed hole on the course, the fourteenth’s approach was even more compelling than the all-carry tee shot. A bunker short right of the green creates an illusion when in fact, this uphill putting surface actually welcomes run-up shots.
• #17: Among my favorite holes on the course, the right-to-left cant of the seventeenth fairway, guarded by bunkers left, demanded a clever shot shape to hold the short grass. From there, players must be precise with an iron to a shallow green complex in order to avoid bunkers short and waste area long.
On this website, as of July 2020, the Dogwood course is ranked #13 while the Cardinal course is ranked #45; on the N.C. Golf Panel rankings, the Dogwood is ranked #5 while the Cardinal is ranked #17. Personally, I found both to be exceptionally compelling. In fact, my playing partner and I both felt if we had to divvy 10 rounds between the two, it would likely be close to a 5-5 split. This is simply just to say that, in my opinion, the courses are far closer in their ‘ranking’ than it might appear on the surface. The front of the Cardinal and the back of the Dogwood is arguably the best composite of the four nines.
All-in-all, the Dogwood course at CCNC kept my interest steadily throughout the round. I hit every club in my bag, played shots in the air and on the ground, and was forced to conjure up fades, draws, and everything in between, all without feeling too beat up when it was all said and done. It is certainly worth the stop if ever you are fortunate to receive an invitation.
First class service and an absolute privilege to play. I completely agree with Mr. Ward's assessment of the layout. He is spot on. It's a great piece of property and a face lift would return this course to the upper echelon of elite clubs in the South.
Sometimes being in the right neighborhood can pay off handsomely and that is the case for CC of NC / Dogwood. The layout for many years benefited from being in the Pinehurst vicinity and the overall depth of courses in The Tar Heel State was nowhere as deep as it is now.
That's not to say the course is not worthy of a visit. When stretched to over 7,200 yards it can be a handful for many. But the design is just adequate in having the kind of design inclusions one sees today at the top tier layouts in the State. As has been mentioned -- the course is really a mixed verdict. The outward nine is good but not especially noteworthy. Fortunately, the return side picks up the slack considerably with water in play on six of the holes and the movement required off the tee shot is at a high level. The closing 18th is the kind of par-5 that yields birdies only grudgingly.
The Dogwood would benefit from an update -- nothing drastic by any means but something to shake a bit of the dust off especially on the front side. If such work could be done then the layout may indeed be worthy of mention with the elite few in this grand golf locale.
M. James Ward
Dogwood was renovated 2016...FYI
Doug, appreciate the comment. My last round at the course came just before the renovation you mentioned. If you look at the comment from David Davis he scores the course at the same level as I did and his round came after the work was done.
I'm curious to know if you see the latest version being worthy of the upper echelon status -- as in top ten -- the course has long had in the Tar Heel State? The depth of courses in NC, as I mentioned in my review, is far beyond what was present from 25-30 years ago when Dogwood reigned among the elite. I still like the course but so much quality golf has really blossomed throughout the State and I just wonder if having a Pinehurst address added a few more brownie points to its pedigree.
I had the opportunity to play the Country Club of North Carolina’s Dogwood course last summer. It’s a fun and challenging modern design that flows through the sandhills of North Carolina in the Pinehurst area.
Dogwood is the championship course at CCNC and can be stretched out fairly long to challenge the world’s best. It’s a tree-lined parkland course with several water hazards that have been designed to naturally fit in the landscape. It has large greens with varying pin positions to increase the challenge and variety available. To play the course well the golfer will be required to shape the ball in both direction off the tee or play shorter clubs requiring longer irons or hybrids for the approaches.
CCNC also has wonderful practice facilities and as a side note some of the only range facilities I’ve ever seen where Pro V 1’s are being used. For me it’s worth a visit only to spend a day at the range seeing how great a practice session truly can be. CCNC is a private club so an invite is required to enjoy the course but the two courses make for a great day out.
This club was once one of the most prominent clubs in the country, especially with its proximity to Pinehurst and having 36 holes.
The Dogwood earns its merits mostly from the commendable design variety on the back 9 holes.
I had the privilege of playing the CCNC during my son’s practice round for the first CCNC Amateur event; a 54 hole tournament on the Dogwood course involving some of the best College players and other leading amateurs.
The first impression of the CCNC is upon arrival at the security gates, which are fully manned and will not be allowing you to pass unless you are expected. Unlike many of the courses in the Pinehurst area, which are open to the public, CCNC is private and exclusive. The moment you are past the gates, and into the undulating, tree lined estate, you know you are in for a special treat.
Once you have reached the car park you are conscious that you are at a golf club that just oozes quality. Clubhouse, driving range, halfway house (rather than hut), buggy fleet, chipping areas and putting greens all of the highest quality, but that’s only the beginning.
There are two courses at the CCNC and by all accounts the Cardinal is an excellent test of golf, but it is the Dogwood course that receives the most acclaim. It is 7200 from the tips, and as there had been quite a bit of rain it was wet and playing it’s full length. Despite the damp conditions though the greens were firm, fast and true.
The course is lined with Pine trees, very common in the area, and visually is a stunning looking course. During the winter months in this part of the world, the Bermuda grass becomes dormant and turns brown, so the fairways are overseeded with Rye grass to make them green. So every hole had a clearly defined green fairway, with yellowy brown flanks, which ended at the edge of the trees or the water. Beneath the Pines is a bed a pine needles, which a shade darker than the rough. This gives each hole a distinct definition, and it was wise to avoid the pine needles, as the ball tended to skid deep into the pines.
There are many memorable holes, but the island green par 3 3rd, the 560 yard 9th on the front 9 stand out. However, it is on the Back 9 where the course is especially beautiful, with water coming into play on 6 of the holes. The final six holes are a very stern test of golf; set around huge lakes and requiring a cool head to close out the round and stay out of the water. The Par 5 18th is a magnificent and truly spectacular finish requiring a drive that misses the water on the left and big bunkers on the right, before turning left at the dogleg and up a steep hill to the green sitting amongst the pines with views overlooking the lake below.
A very special golf course and a true 5 star experience.