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Women's golf: Pinehurst makes women golfers feel right at home

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Just as Tiger Woods plays a different game of golf than you and I, so do women play a different game than men.

Legacy Golf Links
Legacy Golf Links has mounded fairways that keep your ball in play.
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Legacy Golf LinksPinehurst Resort - women's golfPine Needles Golf Club - hole 5Legacy Golf Links - hole 1 tee
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Women are weaker but smarter. Men hit it further, women shorter but straighter. Men curse, women giggle. Men look for trees, women look for bathrooms.

Men expect to be catered to. Women want to be treated equally.

Not so long ago women were made to feel like second-class citizens at golf courses. They still are at many, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

But most golf courses are starting to wise up. The numbers tell them to. Women make up about a quarter of all golfers and about 40 percent of new ones.

Pinehurst, the so-called home of American golf, is no different from most golf destinations. Some courses are better suited to women than others. Here are our choices for the best women-friendly Pinehurst tracks.

Pine Needles Golf Club: How could Pine Needles not be the first choice with an owner like Peggy Kirk Bell?

A buddy of Babe Zaharias (who was godmother to one of her children), Bell has been acclaimed as one of Golf Digest's 50 greatest teachers. She pioneered the first professional women's tour and is one of the founding members of the LPGA, which she once hoped would make its home at Pine Needles.

This golf course takes women golfers seriously, hosting dozens of outings a year for them. It has some of the most comprehensive women's teaching programs around, including ladies' "Golfaris," week-long events offered four times a year.

It also has great practice facilities, including covered stalls at the driving range, a 400-yard-wide fairway between the lodges and the first tee, three separate hitting areas and a three-hole practice course.

Women also love the 75 rooms in 12 chalet-style lodges. Golf for Women consistently rates Pine Needles among the nation's most female-friendly resorts (it was second in the latest survey). If you're a woman golfer on your first Pinehurst jaunt, you will probably want to make this your first stop. For tee times, call (866) 414-4653.

Legacy Golf Links: Legacy is one of those courses that mixes playability, conditioning and aesthetics into a nearly perfect cocktail.

"This is one of the most popular courses around here because it's the friendliest," said member Peter Munster. "The rolling terrain kicks everything back to the target, so this one gets a lot of play. No tricks, everything in front of you."

The course has mounded fairways that keep the ball in play and mounded greens that suck up offline approaches and funnel them back toward the hole. It's a look-good, feel-good course that's a blast to play whether you've been playing well or lousy.

Not that it's one of those flat, featureless easy courses. Legacy has plenty of character, with good elevation changes, rolling fairways that bend and twist and a heavy dose of water (particularly around the greens) that lends the landscape a photo-album clarity.

Pinehurst No. 8: No. 8 is the course Tom Fazio designed to help commemorate Pinehurst Resort's 100th anniversary. The course has difficult, domed greens akin to No. 2's, but the grass is cut low on the green surrounds, so women can putt from them, avoiding tricky up-and-downs.

No. 8 has hosted the Pinehurst Women's Golf Week LPGA Teaching and Club Pro Championship, the largest championship for women teaching pros in the world. The resort is home to the Pinehurst Golf Advantage School, which Golf for Women named one of the five best instruction programs for women in 2003.

Mid Pines Golf Club: Across the street from Pine Needles, with which it shares ownership and a design legacy (both are Donald Ross courses), Mid Pines has also hosted the LPGA Teaching and Club Pro Championship, as well as the USGA Senior Women's Amateur.

Hillier than Pine Needles, with few forced carries, Mid Pines has stayed true to its Ross roots. A diminutive course overall, it can play as short as 4,921 yards, with the longest hole, the par-5 10th, at 377 yards.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
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