When renovating Pinehurst No. 4, Gil Hanse, ASGCA, was not trying to replicate Donald Ross’ work at No.2, but he maintained a healthy respect for the work of ASGCA’s first president. “It was our hope to build a golf course that echoed a lot of the sentiments and philosophies that Ross employed but really to try to hearken back to the origins of golf in Pinehurst and the aesthetic rejuvenation of course No. 2.”
On nice days when Gil Hanse and his team were renovating Pinehurst No. 4, the famed golf course architect would walk across the grounds of historic No. 2, Donald Ross’ masterpiece design that’s played host to nine USGA championships, in order to get to No. 4.
“There was one morning where it was just beautiful out and I was crossing hole No. 10 on course No. 2 and I saw we had finished hole No. 9 on No. 4, and it felt like it belonged,” remembered Hanse. “That was the moment I felt we had done something really special here as it relates to course No. 2.”
When Hanse and his partner, Jim Wagner, were tasked with redesigning No. 4, the goal was never to try and compete with No. 2. Instead, they wanted No. 4 to be compatible with No. 2.
The two looked at old aerial photographs of No. 4, not to recreate holes, but to employ similar bunker patterns and green structures. The goal was to reconnect and reestablish the aesthetic feel of No. 4, restoring the natural beauty and magic of the Carolina sandhills.
“It’s a town that’s completely committed to golf,” said Hanse. “I think it’s our St. Andrews.”
Hanse will tell you that the most challenging aspect of his latest redesign was “the reverse mindset” of trying to put the landforms of the Carolina sandhills back in place that had become disconnected from the original layout.
“We were oddly qualified to try to recreate nature, even though we prefer to work with nature,” said Hanse. “Changing those gears in our mindset was the most difficult aspect of it. Once we got that moving forward, then it became a little bit easier.”