The 1986 Rees Jones-designed No.7 golf course at the famous Pinehurst Resort may not be everyone’s first choice but it’s certainly a challenging and at times dramatic layout that is naturally eclipsed by No.2.
The No.7 course was laid over the site of a former 9-hole course which was fashioned by Donald Ross for the use of Pinehurst's employees.
Tiger Woods claimed his only Pinehurst title on No.7 in 1992 when he led wire-to-wire to win the Big I Junior Classic. Woods became only the second junior, after Billy Andrade, to win two Insurance Youth Golf Classic titles.
Aptly described by reviewer Colin Braithwaite below, the Rees Jones designed Pinehurst #7 course is “newer” with a “throwback feel.” With many holes incorporating hilly terrain and the natural sandscape, challenges await players of all skill levels. The course presents a strong mix of half-par holes with risk and reward opportunities, and the many multi-tiered putting surfaces were intriguing. Those holes which stood out most to me include:
• #1: With a large dip in the driving zone, Rees did a great job at implementing visual deception from the first tee shot. The best angle into the green is from the left side of the fairway, but with the natural tilt of the land, it can be difficult to keep your approach there.
• #4: This dogleg right plays over the crest of a hill and requires shot shaping from the tee to avoid a series of deep bunkers. Missing this green right forces a very tough up-and-down from a steep hollow.
• #10: The “turn” at Pinehurst #7 is an especially fitting moniker. This tee shot plays downhill to a fairway that both twists in an crooked shape, and is canted from right to left. The best angle into the green is from the left side of the fairway, and drives can chase here if the player uses the natural slope of the land. From there, the approach is uphill to a two-tiered, deep green complex.
• #12: The twelfth hole at Pinehurst #7 is one of my favorite holes in the Sandhills, let alone on this golf course, as options abound on every single shot. Off the tee, players must avoid being too conservative with a series of bunkers on the right, but cannot get too greedy down the left with more bunkers and thick woods. This guarded left side provides the best potential opportunity of reaching the green in two. From the fairway, it appears there is significant room to the right, but be warned, any shot that misses the green right is totally dead. I found this out the hard way, from the right greenside bunker. Whether hitting from tight fairway, wiregrass, or a bunker, the green is almost certainly too shallow to hit from the right. Instead, on the second shot, players should favor the left side and use the natural slope as a backstop on their lay-up. The putting surface is banked beautifully into a hillside and a false front can reject any short shot back into the fairway. With interesting topography, strategic sand placement, and width, the twelfth is a hole that will never grow old.
• #14 & #15: Playing along the same hill, players can utilize the tilt of the land to position their drives into these guarded green complexes.
• #16: Requiring a well-flighted shot over a massive waste area, the par three sixteenth was a true standout. Using a mid or long iron, this all carry tee shot must find a complex, fascinating green with a dip running through the center portion and two banking tiers.
• #17: With dry conditions, big drives are possible at the severely downhill seventeenth. If you are playing from the proper tees, one must also be careful about the swamp bisecting the fairway. On the approach, one must hit a high, aerial shot over the hazard and bunkers to a perched complex – a very difficult, natural challenge.
• #18: Wide landing areas welcome conservative tee shots and approaches on the finisher, while difficulties await the more aggressive golfer. The latter must avoid out-of-bounds and a large bunker off the tee, and must not go long off a downhill lie on the approach so as to avoid a lake beyond the green complex.
These elements and many more left me feeling very positive about Pinehurst #7. While the course was certainly quite difficult, the challenges seemed fair and balanced overall with more moderate holes mixed in among the brutes.
In my opinion, there were only two small drawbacks to the architecture presented at the #7 course. First, on six holes, the best line of attack off the tee is to avoid fairway flanking bunkers. This seems like a missed opportunity – should the player not have to challenge those hazards for the best angle into the green? Second, on five holes, one faces a downhill tee shot to an uphill landing area. Many more holes also play to an uphill green. For that reason, while the total yardage of the course is standard, it plays significantly longer as drives hit upslopes and have no run. This frequently downhill/uphill pattern becomes repetitive at points.
Despite this, I would rate Pinehurst #7 as a solid Sandhills option. I prefer #7 to courses #1, #3, and #5, and consider it an equal to #9. The golf course follows the topography well to create challenge, opportunity, and strategic interest.
I can’t figure out why No. 7 has fallen so far down in everyone’s rankings. Personally, the only Pinehurst course I liked better was No. 2. No. 7 was certainly the most difficult course I played in town. Everyone should give ole No. 7 a try!
Recently, we had the pleasure of playing all 9 Pinehurst courses. Sean Delaney of golftripjunkie.com was instrumental in coordinating our itinerary and at a reasonable price. I heartily recommend Sean and golftripjunkie.com
Number 7 is a Rees Jones design and of the newer courses has a throwback feel to it. This can be partially attributable to integrating some of the old employee course into the new design. The first hole is a welcoming par 5. Possible to get home in two if one challenges the moguls on the right side. Safer play is favor the left and choose your wedge yardage as this green is well protected. The 2nd hole is a beast of an uphill par 4. There is a plethora of bunkers down the left side and the green slopes right to left. I would suggest aiming 5 yards right of the pin. Two of our approaches landed on the green and ended up in the greenside bunker. Woe is me. The par 4 3rd is not long but it is tight with fairway bunkers right. Also, on your approach to this elevated green I would suggest adding a club. The 4th hole also has a boatload of bunkers on the left. However, more note worthy is a bunker that is behind the back tees. When #7 was being built this bunker was discovered. Evidently, it had been part of an old Donald Ross course. The mid-yardage par 3 5th looks easier than it is. Bunkers right protect this deceptive green. The 6th is 438 yards from the whites, bunkers down the left, pot bunkers right, water and a green protected by bunkers left and right. It is the number 11 handicap? The short par 4 7th, Devil’s Gut, is a birdie oppty. The hazard runs diagonally, thus there is a lot more yardage left than right. Regardless, I would strongly advise laying up off the tee to your preferred wedge distance. This green is trickier than most politicians and is well guarded by 4 bunkers. The par 5 8th is also birdieable. A fade off the tee will give you an oppty to go for it in two. The green does not hold real well and there is a creek in front and a bunker behind the green. The par3 9th will play a club longer. One must carry the water hazard and the false front , not to mention the greenside bunkers.
The 10th is a short par 4 dogleg left. Favor the left side off the tee, you can drive through the fairway and be forced to navigate several trees. On your approach, it is at least one extra club. The 11th is another dogleg left. Cut the corner, you do not want to be in the bunkers on the outside of the elbow through the fairway. Speaking of bunkers, there is a BAB short right. That one is even worse. The par 5 12th is a double dogleg. If you are huge and crazy you may be able to get home in two. A better play, favor the right side off the tee, for the second shot favor the left to your preferred wedge yardage. This is an elevated green that loves to reject shots that are just short to set up the walk of shame as they roll back the hill. The 13th is a longer uphill par 3 over gunch. There are bunkers short right and left and the green is fairly narrow. It will play at least one club longer. The par 4 15th is a good hole. Slight dogleg right with fairway bunkers. If you bomb it over the hill, it is possible you will end up in the creek left and right. The approach is uphill to a green that is well protected with 4 surrounding bunkers. The par 3 16th is considered the signature hole. Personally, I liked 7,12 and 13 more. For 16 there is a large waste area called Jones Fingers. I ended up in one of these fingers but was able to pull a par out of my orifice. The par 4 17th is a good birdie oppty. There is gunch about 100 yards out. The uphill green is protected by 3 bunkers and be prepared for a downhill lie on your approach shot. The par 5 18th is not reachable. Off the tee favor the right center to avoid the fairway bunker left. There are bunkers on each side near the second landing zone. Here, too, you will probably have a downhill lie.
Overall, an enjoyable course, but I would not pay to replay