The Country Club of Whispering Pines is a 36-hole facility owned and managed by Brown Golf Management who also owns nearby Foxfire Golf Club. This gives local Brown Golf members access to 72 holes of championship golf in the Pinehurst Area of North Carolina! More on that in a minute.
The original 18 holes at the Country Club of Whispering Pines opened for play in 1962. An additional 9 holes were added in 1965, and the club operated as a 27-hole facility for about 4 years until 1969 when the final 9 holes were added. Since then, changes have been made and some hole rerouting has taken place and the Country Club of Whispering Pines is now a 36-hole facility. The courses have been renamed the River (formerly the West) Course, and the Pines (formerly the East) Course. Both courses were designed by Donald Ross protégé Ellis Maples way back in 1959 and 1965 respectively and share one thing in common – variety. One example of this is the types of grass used on the greens – The Pines features Champion Bermuda and The River, Bent grass.
Before your round, head over to the practice area, where you’ll find a full-length driving range, a practice pitching green complete with sand bunkers, and two putting greens to get you ready for your round.
The Pines Course
The Pines course has been referred to by some as an “inland links” style course, because of the absence of water. Donald Ross’ influence is evident in the way this Maples design hugs the natural contour of the land, as well as in the use of open, hardpan areas in the rough that are sparsely covered with pine straw and native grasses. You’ll also see his touch in the shaping of the greens and positioning of the sand traps. A great golf course from a golf design icon.
From the back tees, The Pines plays 7,094 yards to a par of 72, with a course rating of 74.5 and a slope of 134. Most golfers will find that the White Tees (6,409/71.1/131) offer an adequate test. Although the Pine Course offers generous fairways, you’ll still end up hitting every club in your bag because of the variety of holes. Ladies will have a great time from the Red Tees (5,324/71.4/121).
The par 5, 5th hole is not only the toughest ranked hole on the course, it’s also one of the more scenic holes out here. From the White Tees, the hole plays 544 yards, so for most of us, it’s a 3 shot hole. There’s a large pine tree on the right side off the tee that needs to be avoided; your best line is to bisect the left bunker and the pine tree. The landing area for your layup shot is wide open and the right center of the fairway will leave the best angle in to the green. Your approach shot is about half a club downhill over water to a large green protected front right and back left by sand. It’s easy to see why this is the toughest hole; it takes 3 good shots to get on and an accurate pitch if you want to score better than average.
Another hole that will test your mettle is the par 4, 10th. It plays 401 yards from the Whites Tees, predominantly uphill. It’s a narrow hole that requires two long, straight shots into another oversized green which is fronted by bunkers on either side.
With all of the elevation changes out here, you’re in for an interesting round. You’ll be hitting from uphill, downhill and side hill lies, but that’s a lot of what you find in the area. Trust me, it beats flat! Let me leave you this this piece of advice: if you tend to slice your tee shots, use a white ball. It will make it that much easier to find on the range!
The River Course
The River Course features towering oak trees that line the fairways and overhang several greens. The River course is not as demanding as the Pines Course (a slope of 130 on the River versus 134 on the Pines); however, you’re still going to have to play the role of shotmaker if you want to score well out here. Especially on the back none, where water is present on every hole. The greens are smaller and the rough is thicker, so it’s best to be hitting out of the short grass on a regular basis. There’s more emphasis on accuracy than on distance.
The River Course plays to a par of 71, and from the back tees, plays 6,521 yards with a course rating of 70.8 and a slope of 130. Most golfers will choose the White Tees, which play 6.044 yards (69.0/126) and be challenged the entire round. Ladies typically play from 5,140 yards.
The 4th hole plays 396 yards from the White Tees and requires you to thread your tee shot through a narrow opening between pine and oak trees. If you can hit a draw, now’s the time. A good drive will leave a negotiable-length approach shot to an elevated green that slopes severely from left to right. It’s handicapped number 5, but plays much tougher.
Number 10 is where the water really starts to come into play, and in a big way. It’s a big, sweeping dogleg right par 5 that plays 533 yards from the White Tees. If you try and cut the corner or hit it too far right, there is a pond waiting to greet your golf ball. Although it brings the sand traps up near the green into play more, this hole is best played down the left side.
Your round on the River Course concludes with the toughest hole on the back nine. Number 18 plays 394 yards from the White Tees. It’s another hole where left is best and takes the pond on the right out of play. Avoid the bunker that guards the left side of the green and the one short right and you’re well on your way to a successful completion.
The two courses at The Country Club of Whispering Pines offer peace and relaxation. Out here, you far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, all that’s left to do is put that little white ball in the hole. Eighteen times!
I spoke with several members while I was there who all raved about the dining room and how well Brown Golf Management was doing in restoring the club to its former splendor. The Grill features all of your clubhouse favorites and what’s most impressive – they all taste good. From the Grilled Reuben to the Ellis Maple Burger, you’ll enjoy every bite. They also feature several beers on tap and have a full bar.
According to the members, one of the best thing about joining the club is that you have access to unlimited golf at two 36-hole facilities in the Pinehurst area, as well as unlimited range balls.
The Country Club of Whispering Pines also has 32 hotel-style rooms as well as 9 condo/suites for those looking for a stay and play vacation. The rooms are a short walk to the clubhouse and first tee include free wireless Internet access, unlimited use of the outdoor pool and tennis courts (as well as the 24-hour fitness center.
For more information on The Country Club of Whispering Pines or to become a member, visit their website www.countryclubofwhisperingpines.com.