Under Construction — Pinehurst’s dazzling new short game practice area

Construction on Pinehurst’s new short game area is under way.

Before August, Pinehurst Resort already had one of the best golf practice facilities in the world.

Soon, it will be even better.

Anyone who has stepped foot onto the Resort Club the last few days couldn’t have helped to notice the large project currently in progress. Three large dump trucks hauled dirt early last week around what was formerly the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 1 while that green and the small chipping green behind it were stripped.

The small chipping green, used primarily for green research before, will be enlarged.

It’s all part of a project to expand and redesign the practice area. The smaller chipping green, which was being used as part of a multiyear plan for the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP), will be enlarged to about 3,000 square feet. The whole area affected and improved will be close to an acre when it’s completed.

Formerly the 18th green for Pinehurst No. 1, the green will be the focal point of improvements to an already state-of-the-art practice facility.

The old 18th green will also be enlarged and reconfigured to resemble a green from Pinehurst No. 2, with a turtleback construction and closely mown areas around and below. Several bunkers will also be added, and the firm of Coore and Crenshaw, which restored No. 2 in advance of the historic back-to-back U.S. Opens at Pinehurst in 2014, will add the unique touches of sandy areas and wiregrass in and around the new practice area.

The new short game area will likely be open in early October. The greens will be built with Penn A1/A4 Bentgrass – the same as Pinehurst No. 2.

When the views are great even for practice, well, that’s what makes Pinehurst special.

“It will have a taste of No. 2,” said Bob Farren, Pinehurst’s director of golf course and grounds management. “Those who come out to enjoy Pinehurst may not always get to play No. 2. But with this practice area, they’ll be able to get a real appreciation for what No. 2 is like.”

The practice area will likely get plenty of attention from U.S. Open participants. With plans to have the driving range near the tees of No. 3 and No. 5 – the same area it was for the 2005 Open – participants will be able to approach the short game area and the putting green without being disturbed by spectators.

But Pinehurst members and guests will get their shot at the new area well before then.

Here are a few more photos from the first days of construction:

Hauling dirt in for upgrades and expansion.

The small chipping green.

Expanding what used to be the 18th green on Pinehurst No. 1 for a new short game practice area.