Russell F. Breedon is certainly not the biggest name to have designed a golf course in North Carolina, but both he and ownership stuck to some safe standards when creating the Pinewood Country Club. For one, on ownership’s part, sticking the word “Pine” in the title certainly brings happy thoughts to golfers familiar with the state’s sandhills. On Breedon’s part, turning to the celebrated architect who created many of the state’s other “Pine” courses proved to be a wise choice.
Those playing the 6,900-yard course will note Breedon’s general appreciation for Donald Ross, in both the placement of bunkers and the use of the rolling land as a hazard unto itself.
Not wanting simply recreate a tribute course, of course, Breedon took some liberties to emulate the trends the golf during the ‘70s, when the course was designed. One example is the downhill par five at No. 3, where big hitters can go for the green in two, if they feel bold enough to carry nearly 40 yards of pond in front of the green.
Although a true country club, Pinewood’s golf facilities are open to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The city of Asheboro is a surprising crossroads in North Carolina. Situated in the ancient Uwharrie Mountain range, Asheboro creates a unique link among the piedmont, Sandhills, and Appalachian geologic zones of the state. On this common ground, it is fitting that Asheboro’s strong golf options also capture three styles of architecture, each from a unique era in design history.
Representing the classic period is one of North Carolina’s best nine-hole courses, the Asheboro Municipal Golf Club. This 1937 Ross design gently flows over a rolling property with perched putting surfaces. On the other end of the spectrum is the modern Mike Strantz course at Tot Hill Farm, once rated among America’s toughest courses. The rugged oddities found throughout Tot Hill Farm make other polarizing Strantz properties seem benign.
Built in 1971, Pinewood Country Club presents a more typical routing for a central North Carolina golf course. Clearly constructed for a strong playing membership, the twists and turns of Pinewood present challenges both for recreational golfers and the state’s finest amateurs. Though historically private, Pinewood has now opened its doors with limited tee times for the public.
The two nines at Pinewood could not be more dissimilar, each telling its own individual tale. The front pays homage to the historic mountains on which the course was built. Every one of the par fours and fives rises or falls steeply over hills and valleys. Interestingly, the bold green complexes follow suit and feature terrifying plateaus and knobs. They are as wild as the nearby North Carolina Zoo.
The course’s opening three holes are attention-grabbing, capturing the spirit of this undulating, strategic design. The first hole bends to the left, though the fairway is canted to the right. This tilt makes the approach shot into the green challenging, since the natural miss will force balls out-of-bounds. The landing zone at the second provides a major speed slot for the aggressive shot-shaper, but may also leave an awkward downhill lie to a sharply uphill green. The massive plummet at the par five third is inspiring, but tightened by forest, sand, and a pond situated in the ideal driving location. Each of the greens on these holes feature no less than three distinct tiers, forcing players to be precise on their approach.
The theme of harsh, rolling terrain all but disappears on the second nine. Mapped over more gentle topography, many holes after the turn feel more like a stroll in a park, especially on the stretch from 12 – 15. This is not to suggest that the back lacks teeth. Bunkers pinch or flank the ideal landing zone on every one of the par fours and fives, and on many occasions, knolls carefully funnel even well struck tee shots into the sand. Not a single green on the back welcomes a run-up shot, as bunkers also guard the entry to every putting surface.
In the same way that Asheboro bridges the gap between so many regions of the state, Pinewood Country Club is the middle ground of two other notable golf properties in the area. Pinewood manages to test any type of player while still showcasing the natural beauty of the Uwharrie landscape.