Golf CoursesOctober 13, 2018

The new Pinehurst No. 4: Behind Gil Hanse's bold changes at the historic North Carolina resort

Gil Hanse's redesign work has gained notoriety and praise, particularly over the past couple of years—working at some of our country's best courses, such as Merion (East), Winged Foot (West and East), Los Angeles Country Club (North and South), Plainfield, Aronimink, Sleepy Hollow, Ridgewood, and many others. Plus, Hanse's team has projects upcoming at Oakland Hills (South) and Southern Hills.

One caveat about these projects: They are all at private clubs, not to be enjoyed by the majority of golfers. Not so at Pinehurst: Where Hanse's team has redesigned Pinehurst No. 4, originally a Donald Ross layout that was reworked by Tom Fazio. Hanse, who also designed The Cradle at Pinehurst, a short par-3 course that has gained acclaim since its opening last year, used some of the inspiration from Ross' original design, including a restoration of natural landforms from the Ross era, but Hanse created many new holes, while still within the same corridors that existed through redesigns by Robert Trent Jones (1973), Rees Jones (1982) and Fazio (1999) to create a new course that matches the look and feel of Pinehurst No. 2, which was restored in 2010 by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

Pinehurst No. 4 had previously been ranked as one of North Carolina's top-five courses in the 1990s, but it slipped to No. 16 in our most recent Best in State ranking. The course, which was designed by Donald Ross in 1919, had previously been remodeled by Tom Fazio—who called the No. 4 restoration one of his proudest remodels to date.

Now, Hanse and his team have put their own signature on it, giving an ode to some of the Ross elements and creating larger natural “sandscapes” with native vegetation, including wiregrass and broom sedge plants, which matches the look of the restored No. 2, while being perhaps slightly more playable than No. 2.

Here are images of some of the biggest changes to Pinehurst No. 4:

The view from the green at the the uphill par-3 sixth hole is one of the most dramatic on the course.

A difficult uphill tee shot at the fifth hole with a carry over exposed sand, typical of many looks at Pinehurst.

Expansive exposed sand protects the right side of the seventh hole, where Hanse's team lowered the fairway from the previous routing.

The massive sandscape that cuts through the fairway at the par-5 ninth.

Hanse's team created a new par-3 11th hole that plays through natural, rugged surrounds.

And here's the entire routing at the new Pinehurst No. 4.

RELATED: Photos and descriptions: Pinehurst No. 2