Hitting and holding greens at Pinehurst #2 is one of the most befuddling challenges in the game of golf. Whether it’s a resort guest or a professional tour player, finding a way to get second and often third or fourth shots to settle on the putting surface will determine success.

The elevated greens have sloping shoulders that roll off on all sides, and watching balls trickle slowly toward the edge before trundling down and away into a bunker or the short grass surrounds sums up the Pinehurst experience. Once this begins to happen, executing even the most basic chips and pitches can become psychologically debilitating.


One of the most severe greens on the course is at the par-5 fifth. The putting surface is approximately 7,000 square feet but plays much smaller since the perimeter is un-pinnable and curves off into troughs of short grass on the right and long. The front third of the green slopes back toward the fairway and shots that carry even an inch short will roll backward and down into bunkers or pine straw. Missing left is worse—the edge falls away, and once a ball starts moving that direction it won’t stop until its levels out on the tee of the fourth hole, 50 yards away.


Stephen Denton

Finding the center of the putting surface is difficult enough with a wedge in hand; doing so with long irons, hybrids or metal woods is nearly impossible. Anyone who makes a four here is stealing candy, and there’s no shame in walking away with a six.

https://www.golfdigest.com/content/dam/images/golfdigest/fullset/course-photos-for-places-to-play/Stracka Heat pinehurst green fifth.jpg

Here’s a visual of all the undulations at the fifth green. Anything in pink, orange or red is considered severe. (Courtesy of Strakaline)

More U.S. Open preview stories Analysis Is the USGA going to set up Pinehurst extra hard because of low scores in recent majors? Crunching the Numbers U.S. Open 2024: The USGA is about to play its 1,000th championship. Here are 9 remarkable stats from the first 999 ‘Every Hole At’ Our Pinehurst No. 2 drone tour reveals the subtle brilliance of this iconic U.S. Open course

Watch the video below to learn everything you’d ever want to know about one of Pinehurst #2’s most fascinating obstacles.

More from Golf Digest Golf Digest Logo My 11 favorite Pinehurst courses, ranked

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com