I was reminiscing on my Top 100 quest the other day and I thought it would be a good idea to tell all of you about the first Top 100 course I played. That wonderful track was Pinehurst #2.
I luckily got to play it when I was 16 years old due to the fact that I had begun taking lessons from the lead instructor there, Eric Alpenfels. After one of our lessons, he arranged for me to play the course. This was well before the renovations done by Coore & Crenshaw. To say that is was a different course would be an understatement. There was pretty much wall to wall grass. The greens were still phenomenal, but other than that it was pretty pedestrian.
A highlight of that first round was playing with a couple guys that were marshals for the 1999 US Open. They showed me where some of the tees were and some other interesting points of interest. I can also say I made par on the difficult fifth hole. Back then it played as a long par 4.
I continued taking lessons with Eric through early college and my connection with Pinehurst would continue along that same timeline. I worked for two summers at the junior golf camps at the resort. It was the best job I have ever had. A normal day involved getting the campers to the famous breakfast buffet at The Carolina, assisting with their practice in the morning (where we were also allowed to practice), eating lunch at the clubhouse, playing 18 in the afternoon with the kids, and eating dinner with the group. This was the drill Monday to Friday! If I could get a living wage from that job I never would have left!
Needless to say, I love Pinehurst. I went to the 2014 US Open there and played the course post-renovation in November 2014. It is a much better course now after the extensive renovations. It plays firm, fast, and true to what Donald Ross envisioned when he designed the course.
I hope you have a chance to play the course that started this whole crazy journey for me!