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Ambitious new Dormie Club in the Carolina Sandhills is a gem in the making -- and you can play it

By Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor

WEST END, N.C. -- As fanfare surrounds the reopening of the brand new Pinehurst No. 2 restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, just four miles away, a new golf club is going about its business quietly: Dormie Club.

Dormie Club golf course
Dormie Club is the newest golf course in the Carolina Sandhills.
Dormie Club golf courseDormie Club golf course - hole 6Dormie Club golf course - hole 16

Coore & Crenshaw were plotting this Carolina Sandhills-area course out before making their way to revamp No. 2. Opened since May 2010, Dormie is a fine addition to the Carolina Sandhills' top shelf, even if few of the many golfers who come here know they're allowed to play it.

For the foreseeable future, part of the club's grassroots marketing philosophy is to welcome public tee times. Rates are $200 with a cart and forecaddie or $220 walking with a caddie.

Dormie Club founder Robert Hansen (a member of Merion and the R&A) had a goal "to create a high-quality property for golf that features world-class details and service without overbuilt facilities that require high annual fees, a large staff and high operating expenses."

Arrive at the club today, and you won't see much overhead. There is a temporary clubhouse with a bare-bones pro shop, changing area and bar in a 2,500-square-foot building that used to be a hunting lodge.

Make no mistake, golf is the centerpiece of a planned, 1,028-acre residential community with 228 single-family lots. But plans are such that you won't be able to see hardly anything but rolling hills, sand and trees when you're on the golf course.

Dormie Club: How the golf course plays

Any great members course should have a design that can play a lot of different ways, and those who repeatedly play Dormie Club shouldn't get bored of it for a lifetime.

The large, rolling greens, which run at a 10 on the stimpmeter, are expected to always play fast and firm. Many greens have a lot of different areas for pin placements both easy and devilish. The green complexes are Dormie Club's strong suit.

"Sixteen holes have the option of flying it to the pin or landing it short," said Paul Oglesby, head golf professional at Dormie Club. "The greens have nice movement to them. There are so many options around them."

The club won't plan on over-seeding its course in the winter like most Carolina courses. Rather, it will be a dormant brown hue, similar in look to a baked-out British isles links, and it should play similarly firm, too.

"The idea is that if mother nature cooperates," said Olgesby, "it will play like the British Open."

Seeing the course in early April, you could be fooled into thinking these fairways aren't bermuda at all, given their hue and rumbling playability.

Amongst the 309 acres for the golf course is about 100 feet of elevation change. All things funnel down towards Cole's Lake, a little postcard of a watering hole, which comes into play on perhaps the course's finest hole, the long, tumbling, par-4 fifth hole that finishes right beside the lake. The sixth hole tees off across it and runs along the lake most of the way.

What goes down must come back up, and the 17th hole, a long par 5 with an elevated green at the top of a hill, is highlighted by a huge waste bunker that stares you right in the face, warning you not-so politely to hit your approach shot with caution.

Dormie Club: The verdict

Call it "Bandon Trails East" if you'd like, and it wouldn't be too far off.

All-natural Dormie Club plays somewhat similar to the Coore-Crenshaw Pacific Northwest gem, with tall pines lining wide fairways bordered by sandy waste areas. Dormie Club, at just less than 7,000 yards and a 140 slope, should play a little longer and more challenging.

Those who like the non-residential, wide-open feel of Pinehurst No. 8 will feel right at home at Dormie Club. As long as this course books public tee times, good players will want to factor it into their must-play list, along with Pinehurst Resort's 2, 4 and 8, Pine Needles and Tobacco Road, among others.

There are a wide variety of membership and housing options available to both local and international members at Dormie Club. Those curious should check out DormieClub.com.

Brandon TuckerBrandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Review

    CBB wrote on: May 12, 2012

    Played 5/9/12. Great minimalistic golf. Condition of fairways and rough was 8 to 9 out of 10. Greens were 10 of 10. Used caddie although my group felt laser range finders would have been just as effective as caddie mis-clubbed all of us several times. We r all single digit handicaps. Asst pro was a complete jack ass. Tell owner to buy this guy a personality. We played 36 on a Thursday and easily finished by 4:00 pm. First tee time was 7.45 am. Well worth playing at 200 if u r golf junkies like us.


  • Dormie Club review

    Curtiss wrote on: Jan 22, 2012

    I played the dormie club while on business in the area. We had three players and one was not very good and very intimidated by having a caddie so we elected to ride. After paying $115 we didnt see the need for extra expense. Tobacco Road is 15 min away and in as great shape as this course for $60. Anyhow, we were given a scorecard that looked like ninth grader printed it at the last minute. It listed each hole, the yardage of the hole and the handicap of the hole. It did not however let you know if it was a par 4 or 5 at all. it did not tell you the yardage fro each tee only a yardage. thecourse truly is a great course and probably equal to any and all Pinehurst resort courses. The layout was fair and the greens are the best i've played in a while. There was one point when we were lost as to which direction to go. the holes are not marked at all except for a 12" blue stick and white stick off the fairway for 200 and 150 yards. There are no yardages whatsoever on sprinklere heads, GPS's. The tee box is identified by a 6x6 pole that simply says the num,ber of the hole. There are no yardages for the hole on the tee boxes at all. It seemed to us that if we didnt choose a caddie we were on our own and that's the way they wanted us to feel. Having played all the Pinehurst resort courses and admittedly they are pricey, I never left there feeling second class. This course needs to work on customer service if they intend to survive. We were the only group there when we teed off and someone could have given some instructions or at least heads up. I will return to play again, and I may use a caddie, but he better be very good and contribute to the round or I'll let the course tip him with the overpriced fee they charge.


    • RE: Dormie Club review

      Keith wrote on: Feb 16, 2012

      Instead of being cheap next time get a caddie and use him for what he is used for, helping you around a course you have never played. I was a caddie at a top 30 course and people would be lost without me. I plan on playing this course but I have a laser and don't need much more than that.


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