Location: Sanford, N.C.
Course architect: Mike Strantz
Tee — Yardage | Rating / Slope:
Ripper — 6,557 | 72.5 / 145
Disc — 6,317 | 71.3 / 143
Plow — 5,886 | 69.4 / 132
Points — 5,302 | 71.7 / 136
Cultivator — 4,296 | 67.0 / 118
Saturday morning green fee: $$$$ [$150-$199]
Caddie service: Yes
Walker friendly: Yes
Greens: Mini Verde Bermudagrass
Starter: Tobacco Road is the creation of the late architect Mike Strantz, who was an artist at heart. The course, about 25 miles from Pinehurst, is a painting come to life. You’ll see things at Tobacco Road you might not see anywhere else, certainly not in more traditional golf course designs. Like 70-yard wide fairways or greens that change levels by 4 feet or more or vast expanses of waste area dotted with thick, gnarly vegetation.
Play because ...: It’s a challenge both mentally and physically. You’ll have to use your imagination on a number of shots, especially approach shots and even putts. And you’ll have to make a number of decisions as to whether to go for the heroic shot or play to a safer spot and rely on your wedges. The back tees at Tobacco Road only measure 6,557 yards but the course rating is 1.5 strokes higher than the par of 71. It’s recommended, especially for your first visit, to move up one set of tee markers.
Takeaway: Tobacco Road is pricey and you’ll have to ask yourself if the tariff — $125-$185 in season — is worth the effort to get there and what you’ll put yourself through by playing such a demanding course. Tobacco Road is not everyone’s cup of tea but those who play it more than once find that they appreciate the nuances of Strantz’s design and come to like it more every time they play.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 8.0
Pro shop: 9.0
Pace of play: 8.0
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 8 [178 | 173 | 152 | 142 | 132 yards]
The green complex on the 8th makes the hole play differently on different days. The green itself starts out low in the front, on the same level as the bunkers that guard the green on the left and right. Then, it rises higher than the flagstick and works its way around to the right. A front hole location has a backboard behind it and the back right makes it necessary to get the ball on the right level. And you have to fly it over the right bunker to get to the hole location.
Best par 4: No. 10 [441 | 421 | 398 | 365 | 305 yards]
The 10th looks much more like a traditional design when compared to some of the more dramatic holes, like the par-4 9th, whose approach shot must go three clubs or more uphill. The 10th sweeps from left to right and doesn’t have as much room off the tee as some of the other holes. The fairway is bordered on the right by a waste area that runs all the way to the green, which also sweeps from left to right.
Best par 5: No. 11 [531 | 511 | 486 | 361 | 290 yards]
Not a long hole, the dogleg right, uphill 11thembodies most of the design elements at Tobacco Road. The fairway is expansive and the farther right you go off the tee, the better chance you have to reach the green in two. But there’s a huge, deep waste area just off the fairway on the right. And if you go for it, you have to carry 180 uphill yards of waste area. If you take it on and are successful, you will be rewarded. Fail, and you have all kinds of trouble to deal with.