ABERDEEN, N.C. - Legacy Golf Links, near Pinehurst, is one of those golf courses that mixes playability, conditioning and aesthetics into a nearly perfect cocktail. It beckons to the average golfer, whispers in your ear, tells you it's okay if you're a little erratic today.
Don't worry about it. Come on in. It's warm inside.
"This is one of the most popular courses around here because it's the friendliest," said member Peter Munster, on a round with fellow members Ed Reese and Mike Demenno. "The rolling terrain kicks everything back to the target, so this one gets a lot of play. No tricks, everything in front of you."
What's in front of you is a green, lush, picturesque course cut through rolling hills of sweet Carolina pine, with 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're 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.
Add the absolute lack of homes around the course and you could not ask for a more pleasant golf experience. It's peaceful and serene back in them woods, a pretty walk in the park made better by the friendly golf.
Sadly, that will all change soon. Plans call for construction of some 650 homes along the course, with clearing already underway. Guess you can't halt progress.
"Yeah, it's a shame," Munster said. "I'm sure they'll kick us out when they get the homes in. Ah well, that's life."
So enjoy Legacy's charms while you can. Many others do.
"Weekends can be a nightmare out here," Munster said.
The course is a product of Nicklaus Design, with most of the work being done by Jack Nicklaus II - though rumor has it the old man himself laid out No. 18, a real beauty.
It's a long par 4 where you have to hit to the top of the hill to have a chance of reaching the green. Your second shot is downhill, though it will likely be with a long iron or even fairway wood to a bulkhead green set at an angle to the fairway and fronted by water.
With off-season green fees of $49 Monday through Thursday and $59 on weekends, this is a terrific deal, which is why so many people play Legacy. And for a public course, the amenities are excellent. Conditioning, landscaping and service are all top-notch.
The course is definitely friendly, but if you want more for your money you can always retreat to the back tees. From there it's a shade more than 7,000 yards, and challenging enough to have hosted the 2000 Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.
Legacy has some of the most picturesque par 3s in the Sandhills area, most of them downhill and bordered by water. It's a walkable course and very female-friendly.
"For the women, it's really the easiest course around," Munster said. "The women absolutely love it."
So do the men.
Legacy has one-, two- and three-bedroom golf and lakefront condos in the Village of Pinehurst.
AME Golf offers Pinehurst packages for groups from four to 400, set up staffers who have been around Pinehurst golf all of their lives. They have accommodations to suit any group, including condos, town homes and private homes.
Pinehurst has a good variety of restaurants, especially for such a small place. Top choices include Anthony's, which serves Italian; seafood eatery Aqua; Buiscuitville, which specializes, obviously, in biscuits; and, for serious carnivores, Beefeaters.
Golf Digest gave Legacy four and a half stars and a "Great Value" rating.
November 7, 2007