Dormie Club Hole 5

The Dormie Club Review

Well it’s been a minute since I’ve done a proper Top 100 review of any kind.  Honestly, things have picked up on the business front, and it’s kept me from spending the 4+ hours it takes to edit photos and get one of these up.

However, I really enjoy doing them, so this marks my effort to get back into doing it.

Last October I was at a conference in Charlotte, so naturally being this close to Pinehurst I had to take a few extra days and take a little golf trip, right?!

Over the course of 4 days I played:

I had an early morning round on Pine Needles and was left with a decision to make. Do I stay at the resort and go get a round in on Mid-Pines or do I make the quick 20 minute drive to play Dormie Club – there was only time on the trip for one of the two.

While I’m super bummed I didn’t get to play Mid Pines (I’ve heard nothing but great things about the course) I chose to ante up the moderately steep greens fee of $140 and head out to Dormie.

And boy am I glad I did.

The Dormie Club is a unique experience in golf.

The signs for the club are small and understated, and when you pull in it certainly doesn’t look like what I was expecting it to. A few years back the Dormie Club was being touted as one of the best and most exclusive private courses in the country.

The subdued entrance to the Dormie Club

The subdued entrance to the Dormie Club

With the recession those plans didn’t exactly pan our as expected. There was no fancy clubhouse, and I parked in a dirt parking lot.

However it’s the understated features that help make you feel like you stumbled upon a hidden gem with Dormie.

I checked in and headed straight out to the first tee. I had a gorgeous day and the course wasn’t crowded at all.

It was the complete antithesis to my round at Pine Needles in the morning.

That was a classic Donald Ross track that weaved through neighborhoods and kind of felt like a course that was built in the 60s or 70s. While Pine Needles was certainly not a bad course, it didn’t really jive with me as much as some others.

At Dormie there were times I truly felt like I was out in the middle of nowhere.

The only other Coore and Crenshaw course I’d played at this point was Bandon Trails – which just so happens to be one of my very favorite courses.

I was happy to see some similar features and a landscape, that while not coastal, felt quite similar to that of Bandon Trails.

Like most of the other courses I played in North Carolina all of the bunkers were treated like waste areas, so you could ground your club and skip the raking – which I still find to be a pretty curious aspect of golf down there.

Just the Facts

  • Built in: 2010
  • Designer: Coore + Crenshaw
  • Rank: #43 Top 100 Public (Golf Digest), #53 Top 100 Courses You Can Play (Golf Mag)
  • Location: West End, North Carolina
  • Fees: $70-215 depending on time of year
  • Website: http://www.dormieclub.com/
  • Slope: 138, Rating: 73.7
  • Distance: 6,883 from blacks, 6,576 from blues.

The Course

Hole 1 (Par 4, 421 yards)

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for strategically placed cross bunkers  (see my love affair with Waverley Country Club) – so when I stepped up to the first tee and saw the prominently placed bunkers in the middle of the fairway, I knew immediately I’d like this course.

The opening hole at Dormie Club featured a generous landing area and wasn’t overly long – a great opening hole to ease you into the round.

The opening tee shot

The opening tee shot

Hole 2 (Par 4, 397 yards)

The second features a sharp dogleg left, that can reward you with a short approach if you’re ballsy and want to try and clear the bunker at the corner. Safe play however is just to put it out in the fairway – as even from the tips the hole plays under 400 yards.

Dormie Club Hole 2

Hole 3 (Par 4, 312 yards)

love short par 4s – and this is one of the best I’ve played. The left side bunkers are perfectly placed, and leave you with a decision: do you pull driver and aim to clear them and give yourself a shot at the green? Or do you layup short? I took a 3 wood and put it just to the left of the bunker. Safer play would have been a hybrid.

Dormie Club Hole 3 Small

Hole 4 (Par 4, 434 yards)

Another dogleg left with a severely contoured fairway. The cross bunkers defend against anyone trying to cut the corner, and play visual tricks on your approach. The green falls off severely from left to right.

Dormie Club Hole 4 Approach Small

Hole 5 (Par 4, 430 yards)

One of the few holes with water in play on the course, makes for one of the most scenic tee shots I’d had in awhile. At 430 from the tips, its one of the longer par 4s on the course, but a good drive in the middle of the fairway will put you in good position to score.

Dormie Club Hole 5

Hole 6 (Par 5, 524 yards)

A blind tee shot over a ridge that slopes from right to left, this is also the first par 5 on the course, and the only one on the front 9. If you’re going to miss on this green, miss short, as the trees in back can be brutal and the bunkers to the right aren’t much fun either.

It was around this time I really was getting into the round. I was the only one out there at this point, and it was truly one of those rounds where you feel like you’re the only person in the world – and that nothing else mattered.

It didn’t hurt I had a pretty good score going as well.

Dormie Club Hole 6

Hole 7 (Par 3, 236 yards)

The first par 3 on the course is a tricky one. The green is large, but severe bunkers and hazard awaits anything short and to the left.

There’s a bailout area to the left, and at 236 yards stretched out, there’s a good chance you might need it.

Dormie Club Hole 7

Hole 8 (Par 4, 488 yards)

The sloped fairways continue with your tee shot on #8. Looking at the fairway you can’t help but wonder, if I draw the ball, is there any way it could stop? Luckily any shot on the hill to the right is pretty forgiving and should give you some roll back down to the center of the fairway.

Avoid the left bunker if you want a good angle at the green. You’ll need all the help you can get on this hole, as it’s one of the longest par 4s, and #1 handicap hole.

Dormie Club Hole 8 Tee

Hole 9 (Par 3, 167 yards)

The par 3s at Dormie Club is definitely one of the strengths of the course. You cover a wide variety of distances, features, and elevations throughout the 4 1 shotters – and I really enjoyed 9.

Not overly long at around 150 yards, the bunkers are the primary defense on this hole. You don’t want to go long or short, so make sure you’re distances are dialed in by the time you get here.

Dormie Club Hole 9

Hole 10 (Par 5, 653 yards)

The 10th is a really fun, 600+ yard par 5.

The tee shot is pretty straight forward, and then the hole dogleg lefts and has a hazard cutting across the fairway. So depending on your drive distance you’ll have to decide how short you want your approach to be – the hazard, a strategically placed cross bunker, and a narrowing fairway makes you really think about whether or not you should be aggressive or hold back.

Tee shot on 10

Tee shot on 10

Dormie Club Hole 10 Approach

2nd shot on the long par 5, 10th

Hole 11 (Par 4, 421 yards)

A mid length par 4, with waste bunkers down the right hand side – keep it left to avoid, and have the best shot at the green.

Dormie Club Hole 11

Hole 12 (Par 3, 113 yards)

Just because a hole is short, does not mean it’s easy. This is exactly the case with the 12th, and is very reminiscent of #6 at neighboring course Tobacco Road. The hole features a narrow green and deep bunkers everywhere – so similar to 9, you’ve gotta have your distances dialed if you want to make your par.

Dormie Club Hole 12

Hole 13 (Par 4, 492 yards)

The 13th got me excited because my Arccos told me this was a par 5. The scorecard however says differently and it’s just a stupid long par 4, reaching nearly 500 yards.

Don’t need to do anything fancy here, just need to hit two straight, long shots – and then make your putts 🙂

Dormie Club Hole 13

Hole 14 (Par 4, 301 yards)

The 14th is another fantastic short par 4 that just begs you to go for it. The problem, however, is the very narrow opening between the trees and as massive greenside bunker that’s waiting to swallow up your ball.

I had a solid round going, so I opted to just put it out in the middle of the fairway and take an easy par. Or at least that was the plan, until I 3 putted…

Dormie Club Hole 14

Hole 15 (Par 4, 379 yrds)

This is where my quest to break eighty totally fell off the rails.

What seems like it should be a relatively easy cape hole, I’ve heard from more than one person about their horror stories of hitting it into the brush.

I did. And then I three putted again and had to take a triple.

Despite my scoring woes, this is an excellent hole and one of my favorite on the course.

Dormie Club Hole 15

Hole 16 (Par 3, 198 yards)

The 198 yard par 3 16th rounds out a fantastic quartet of one shot holes. With distances of 113, 167, 198, and 236 you have a great array of distances and holes.

This was probably my least favorite out of all of them, simply because it’s a little more straight forward and didn’t provide as much visual and strategic interest for me. The hole plays slightly downhill to a large green, so aim for the center and you should have no trouble making a par or better here.

Dormie Club Hole 16

Hole 17 (Par 5, 497 yards)

The 17th is a fantastic short par 5, dog leg left. Your tee shot will determine just how good your chances of going for it in two are, and if you want to take the aggressive route, try and clear the lefthand fairway bunkers.

From there to get home in two you’ll have to hit a well struck shot uphill, over a section of bunkers that runs across the entire fairway. I cleared that for a short pitch and made my putt for my only birdie on the day.

This is a great match play hole, into the finishing stretch as it rewards those willing to be a bit aggressive with their play.

Dormie Club Hole 17 approach

Hole 18 (Par 4, 420 yards)

The finishing hole is a good sized par 4, with more excellent bunkering that forces you to keep the ball on the lefthand side of the fairway, and temper your drive as to not overshoot it.

Big hitters can clear the waste bunker crossing the fairway and give themselves a much shorter wedge into the green.

Dormie Club Hole 18

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed my round at the Dormie Club. The conditions were perfect, the strategic design totally lived up to my expectations, and also solidified Coore and Crenshaw as my favorite course architects out there right now.

This might be the unpopular opinion, but if I were taking a trip down to the Pinehurst area for a second time and only had two rounds to play, I’d be inclined to choose Tobacco Road and Dormie Club over any of the Pinehurst courses.

This does not mean I think they’re better courses.

They are however, more fun, and as you know that’s my strongest factor when I’m ranking courses.

For anyone who is trying to decide which courses to play on a trip to this area, perhaps this might help.

Strategy

  1. Pinehurst #2
  2. The Dormie Club
  3. Tobacco Road
  4. Pinehurst #8
  5. Pine Needles

Fun

  1. Tobacco Road
  2. The Dormie Club
  3. Pinehurst #8
  4. Pinehurst #2
  5. Pine Needles

History

  1. Pinehurst #2
  2. Pine Needles
  3. Pinehurst #8
  4. Tobacco Road
  5. Dormie Club

My Favorites

  1. Dormie Club
  2. Tobacco Road
  3. Pinehurst #8
  4. Pinehurst #2
  5. Pine Needles

Take all of that for what it’s worth. With this selection of courses there’s no denying that Pinehurst #2 is the best course by traditional standards. It’s got the history, strategy, and cache.

However just because it’s the best on paper, does not mean it’s the most enjoyable. Take away any of the history, and put an average golfer on the Dormie Club and Pinehurst #2 and I’d be willing to bet over half enjoy Dormie Club more.

It’s worth playing #2 at least once, and I had a fantastic day playing it, but for less than half the price (and in some cases much less) the average golfer has better options – and for my money? The Dormie Club is at the top of that list.




There are 12 comments

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    • John

      Could you help me with Pinehurst course choices ? I definitely plan to play tobacco road and dormie club but my budget isn’t quite there to play two and eight At pinehurst and I heard they may be doing some renovations at Pineneedles on their greens. Could you recommend 3- 4 more courses. We have two single digits a 14 and a 20 in our group Thanks

  1. Travis Turner

    Please keep these reviews coming. Saud it before, and will keep saying it…best golf travel site out there. I frequently forward your articles to buddies when considering where to go next.

  2. Keith Oliveira

    Sean,This was very helpful to see this! I’m going to play #2 for sure,cause I’ve always wanted to play there. My buddy also told me about this course and said pretty much the same thing you did about it. Time only permits me to play 2 rounds so these 2 are my choices.

    Thank You so much! Keith Oliveira

  3. Matt

    Once again enjoyed reading this review Sean I as prepare for another trip down to Dormie in June. Looks like we will be playing Sedgefield in Greensboro on Friday, Dormie Club & Southern Pines on Saturday and finishing up with Pine Needles & Mid Pines on Sunday. Obviously a stop at The Pinecrest Inn too…

  4. Jim

    Great site! Really phenomenal pics. Easy to see why they have garnered interest and provided access at clubs looking to be similarly flattered by your photography. Headed to Pinehurst with a group soon. Tobacco Road and Dormie (and #1) are already on our itinerary. Should I play #2 or #8 when the other (old!) guys take an off day? The money is not really an issue but I’d hate to pay a $220 premium for a course I won’t enjoy as much. Thanks for your input. Keep up the great (fun!) work.

    • Sean Ogle

      Jim,

      If you haven’t played #2, it’s a bucket list round that you have to play – especially if the money isn’t an issue. Just for the history alone it will make for a really fun round.

      If you’d already played it a couple times, then I might say play #8, but in your case I’d go 2 all the way.

  5. Terence Egan

    Pinehurst 2 and 8 are equal in terms of coolness and quality of layout and holes. You have to play 2 if you havent, to say you have but 8 is right up there with it. Same is true of Bethpage Black & Red. Obviously, this is only an opinion.

  6. Derrick V

    Sean, I realize your original post makes my comment dated. If you ever make it back to the Pinehurst area I would strongly recommend you or anyone play Tot Hill Farms (Stranz), Talamore (Rees Jones), Legacy (Nicklaus), Pinehurst #4 (Fazio), and mid-South (Palmer) for their fun value. Tot Hill would also have to be rated up there with Tobacco Road for Strategy also. Tot Hill Farms is actually in Asheboro NC which is an easy 45 minute drive Northwest of Pinehurst. It is a beautiful mountain course, very scenic, with the Stranz touch. If you like Tobacco Road and have the game to play it well and enjoyed it, then you’re going to love Tot Hill Farms. Bring your camera too.

    Derrick


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