Pinehurst No. 2 has once again secured the top spot as the best golf course in the state as determined by the prestigious North Carolina Golf Panel. The Top 10 courses in the state remained consistent due to COVID restrictions which limited panel members from visiting clubs around the state as a group, but many were able to rate courses individually.
Among the Top 10, the Dogwood Course at The Country Club of North Carolina rose from fifth to third in the rankings. CCNC’s Dogwood and Cardinal courses will host the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur this summer. The Cardinal course moved up one spot to number 16.
Dogwood Course at CCNC. Image by Kevin Murray.
The North Carolina Golf Panel was founded in 1995 and is recognized as the most authoritative statewide source of golf course rankings in a state that arguably has some of the nation’s best courses.
The 135-member panel is composed of golf media, club professionals and general managers from many outstanding courses, accomplished amateur players and college golf coaches and others who play an active role in promoting golf in North Carolina.
“As a member of the (North Carolina) Golf Panel, 2020 was a very different year and obviously restrictive when it came to ranking our great golf courses around the state,” said Phil Werz, president and CEO for the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Fortunately, for our tourism economy in Moore County, golf remained open throughout the pandemic. We are so blessed with world-class golf in the Pinehurst area and with the USGA announcement last fall to move a second headquarters here and create an anchor site for future U.S. Open championships, it merely enhanced that this destination is arguably the finest in the country to visit and experience the game for all ages.”
Among the 2021 rankings of the Top 100 Courses in North Carolina, a total of 15 are located in the Pinehurst Area. Those rankings include: Pinehurst No. 2 (#1); CCNC, Dogwood (#3); Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club (#4); Pinehurst No. 4 (#8); Pinehurst No. 8 (#14); CCNC, Cardinal (#16); Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club (#18); Forest Creek, South (#27); Pinehurst No. 9 (#30); Dormie Club (#33); Forest Creek, North (#34); Mid South Club (#40); Pinehurst No. 7 (#47); Pinewild, Magnolia (#59) and Talamore Resort, The New Course (#80).
Cardinal Course at CCNC. Image by Kevin Murray.
The panel also ranked the Top 50 Courses You Can Play and the Pinehurst area once again dominated the list with 15 locations, or 30 percent of the clubs, including the top six and eight of the top 11.
The top six include Pinehurst No. 2, Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, Pinehurst No. 4, Pinehurst No. 8, Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club and Pinehurst No. 9. Mid South Club was ninth and Pinehurst No. 7 eleventh.
Other golf clubs among the Top 50 include The New Course at Talamore (#25), Southern Pines Golf Club (#36), Pinehurst No. 6 (#38), Legacy Golf Links (#39), Tobacco Road (#40), Longleaf Golf and Family Club (#41) and Hyland Golf Club (#50).
“Every serious golfer has a trip to the Pinehurst Area on their bucket list,” said Kevin Brafford, executive director of the N.C. Golf Panel. “One of the many blessings of living in North Carolina is that you can so easily become a repeat visitor.”
The Panel also determined a pair of subcategories for the 10 best Fairest Courses to Play and Most Strategic Courses and the Pinehurst Area is well-represented on both of those lists.
According to the N.C. Golf Panel, the Pinehurst Area has the top three Fairest Courses to Play in the state — Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club is first, followed by Pinehurst No. 2 and the Dogwood Course at The Country Club of North Carolina. Pinehurst No. 8 is included as eighth on that list. The Fairest Courses to Play list considers courses regardless of overall difficulty on the premise that it rewards good shots and penalizes poor ones in a manner that is reasonable.
Video by The Pinehurst Southern Pines Aberdeen Convention & Visitors Bureau.
For Most Strategic Courses, Pinehurst No. 2 and Tobacco Road Golf Club are tops in North Carolina as determined by the Panel. Pinehurst No. 4 and Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club rated sixth and eighth, respectively. This category’s Top 10 was determined based on how each course requires thoughtful planning and precise execution of shots from tee to green.
Pinehurst area golf courses are no strangers to the national and global stage as well when it comes to major championships. In 2019, Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club hosted the U.S. Senior Women’s Open while Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 4 hosted the U.S. Amateur.
In 2021, The Country Club of North Carolina will host the U.S. Junior Amateur. In 2022, the U.S. Women’s Open returns to Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club. And the U.S. Open will be back at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2024, marking the fourth such major championship to be played at the historic club over the course of 25 years (1999, 2005, 2014 and 2024), the most to be played over the course of a quarter-century than any other location in the country.
Last fall, the United States Golf Association (USGA) announced additional U.S. Open championships for Pinehurst No. 2 in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.
For more information about all golf courses in the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen area, visit HomeofGolf.com. For the complete list of the Top 100 Courses for 2021, Top 50 Courses You Can Play and other rankings, visit NCGolfPanel.com.
Top 100 Courses for 2021 (second number is previous year’s ranking)
1. 1. Pinehurst No. 2, Pinehurst
2. 2. Grandfather Golf and Country Club, Linville
3. 5. The Country Club of North Carolina (Dogwood)
4. 4. Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, Southern Pines
5. 3. Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club, Cashiers
6. 7. Elk River Club, Banner Elk
7. 6. Quail Hollow, Charlotte
8. 9. Pinehurst No. 4, Pinehurst
9. 8. Old North State, New London
10. 11. Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro
11. 14. Cape Fear Country Club, Wilmington
12. 13. Old Town Club, Winston-Salem
13. 10. Charlotte Country Club, Charlotte
14. 12. Pinehurst No. 8, Pinehurst
15. 12. Wade Hampton Golf Club, Cashiers
16. 17. The Country Club of North Carolina (Cardinal), Pinehurst
17. 16. Eagle Point Golf Club, Wilmington
18. 18. Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club, Southern Pines
19. 19. Old Chatham Golf Club, Durham
20. 20. Raleigh Country Club, Raleigh
21. 23. River Landing (River), Wallace
22. 24. MacGregor Downs Country Club, Cary
23. 21. Rock Barn Country Club (Jones), Conover
24. 22. Biltmore Forest Country Club, Asheville
25. 35. Forsyth Country Club, Winston-Salem
26. 25. Governors Club, Chapel Hill
27. 26. Forest Creek Golf Club (South), Pinehurst
28. 27. Prestonwood Country Club (Highlands), Cary
29. 29. Country Club of Landfall (Dye), Wilmington
30. 32. Pinehurst No. 9, Pinehurst
31. 30. Treyburn Country Club, Durham
32. 31. Country Club of Landfall (Nicklaus), Wilmington
33. 41. Dormie Club, West End
34. 33. Forest Creek Golf Club (North), Pinehurst
35. 27. Trump National Golf Club, Mooresville
36. 34. Linville Golf Club, Linville
37. 40. River Landing (Landing), Wallace
38. 38. Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte
39. 36. High Point Country Club (Willow Creek), High Point
40. 44. Mid South Club, Southern Pines
41. 47. The Hasentree Club. Wake Forest
42. 39. Finley Golf Course, Chapel Hill
43. 42. Greensboro Country Club (Farm), Greensboro
44. 43. Bald Head Island Club, Bald Head Island
45. 52. Balsam Mountain Preserve, Sylva
46. 50. Starmount Forest Country Club, Greensboro
47. 58. Pinehurst No. 7, Pinehurst
48. 47. Country Club of Asheville, Asheville
49. 46. Gaston Country Club, Gastonia
50. 45. Duke University Golf Club, Durham
51. 48. Scotch Hall Preserve, Merry Hill
52. 51. The Cardinal by Pete Dye, Greensboro
53. 64. Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center (Champions), Browns Summit
54. 55. Grandover (East), Greensboro
55. 53. Hope Valley Country Club. Durham
56. 49. Leopard’s Chase, Sunset Beach
57. 56. The Currituck Club, Corolla
58. 59. Lonnie Poole Golf Course, Raleigh
59. 54. Pinewild Country Club (Magnolia), Pinehurst
60. 60. Prestonwood Country Club (Meadows), Cary
61. 66. Hound Ears Club, Blowing Rock
62. 63. Ballantyne Country Club, Charlotte
63. 61. Jefferson Landing, Jefferson
64. 57. Alamance Country Club, Burlington
65. 62. The Club at Irish Creek, Kannapolis
66. 65. Tiger’s Eye, Sunset Beach
67. 69. Pinewood Country Club, Asheboro
68. 67. River Run Country Club, Davidson
69. 68. Carmel Country Club, Charlotte
70. 77. Mimosa Hill Golf Club. Morganton
71. 70. Croasdaile Country Club, Durham
72. 72. Cedarwood Country Club, Charlotte
73. 73. The Peninsula Club, Cornelius
74. 74. Thistle Golf Club, Sunset Beach
75. 71. Porters Neck Country Club, Wilmington
76. 75. Lake Toxaway Country Club, Lake Toxaway
77. 78. Kilmarlic Golf Club, Powells Point
78. 94. Crow Creek Golf Club, Calabash
79. 79. Providence Country Club, Charlotte
80. 83. The New Course at Talamore, Southern Pines
81. 80. The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation, Raleigh
82. 84. Grandover (West), Greensboro
83. 76. St. James Plantation (Reserve), Southport
84. 81. Linville Ridge. Linville
85. 82. Tanglewood Park (Championship, Clemmons
86. 89. Benvenue Country Club, Rocky Mount
87. 98. Blowing Rock Country Club, Blowing Rock
88. 86. Bermuda Run Country Club (East), Bermuda Run
89. 85. Wilson Country Club, Wilson
90. — Forest Oaks Country Club, Greensboro
91. 92. Mill Creek Golf Club, Mebane
92. 88. Brier Creek Country Club, Raleigh
93. 90. Rocky River Golf Club, Concord
94. 91. Compass Point Golf Club, Leland
95. 93. North Ridge Country Club (Lakes), Raleigh
96. 95. Carolina Golf Club, Charlotte
97. 99. Stoney Creek Golf Club, Whitsett
98. — Deep Springs Country Club, Stoneville
99. 100. Nags Head Golf Links, Nags Head
100. 96. Brook Valley Country Club, Greenville
Feature photo: Pinehurst No. 2 by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer John Patota.