There was much excitement and anticipation among BGCS Hickory Grail players this past November as the Pinehurst N.C. area hosted the bi-annual match at the newly established Dormie Club.
Dormie, a private club a few miles north off Beulah Hill Church Road, is a Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore design that employs their customary classic tradition to good effect along the rolling, wooded terrain. The design team used the ready palette of sandy soil, abundant pine straw, native grasses and fescues to good effect as the course has met with accolades by all who have played it. Well, nearly all. This writer, a 20+ handicapper, did not fare well on his first visit to Dormie. But then, I was not prepared for such a magnificent course. My foursome played it early on a crisp Monday morning in November, in advance of Hickory Grail practice rounds that were to commence an hour or so later. The early morning light sparkled on the dewy fairways. It was such a morning that all nature seemed to sing as one voice, encouraging and with the prospect of great vistas and mighty and towering golf shots…
Then we teed off.
Though generous in most aspects, with wide fairways and beautiful greens, there are one or two long carries that will challenge the weaker hickory player and lightning fast greens that will challenge any putter. My playing partners that day, however, were top-caliber golfers and they thoroughly enjoyed the variety of shots called forth, the old-fashioned bunker complexes, the seemingly flat greens (most of them) with delicate contours that demand as much concentration on your third or fourth putt as on your first.
Dormie, par 71, plays just shy of 7,000 yards from the back (140 rating/74 slope), and 5,185 from the front (128 rating/70.4 slope). It garnered a 3rd best new course in 2011 from Golf Week. The clubhouse is a modest building that belies the golfing test outside its doors. Caddies are mandatory (forecaddies, if you are taking a cart). The Grail participants walked the course; some, twice on a given day. Their courage and stamina are to be applauded.
It must be noted that no one hole at Dormie repeats another. Each presents the golfer with a fresh article of emancipation to liberate his game from the jejune and the mundane. Though clearly outclassed by Dormie, this writer was time and again lifted from golfing frustrations by the sheer majesty, and yet simplicity, of the design. Coore and Crenshaw show off Dormie’s beauty with style, no more wonderfully seen than in the bunker edgings often accentuated with tall fescues. I’ve encountered Crenshaw and Coore before, at the Warren Course at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. The two are similar in many respects, but if the Warren Course is a grand old layout in the traditional way, the Dormie Club is Coore and Crenshaw flexing their design muscle on a property with no constraints as to size. Adding to the course’s beauty are two natural lakes, a soothing feast for the golfing soul.
As noted, the fairways are generous for the tee shot, approach shots demand attention; there can be no frivolous attitude toward the placement of either. Bring your best hickory game to Dormie and a putter with which you have a confident understanding.
Dormie has the feel of an established layout, tested by time, weathered by the ministrations of thousands of rounds. This writer has no doubt that the course will continue to inspire and to attract hickory golfers looking to challenge their games to the limit of their skills.
I admit it. I am looking forward to another visit.
Have a favorite hickory course you’d like to profile? Send the information along with photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.