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Play Away: Pine Needles, Sharpened

Restoring a master's work requires a delicate touch and a lack of ego—which is precisely why Pine Needles Lodge & Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina, sought the accomplished but modest John Fought to steward the rebirth of its classic course. "The architect is Donald Ross," Fought told T+L GOLF. "My job is to get Pine Needles back to what Ross would have wanted."

The site of two U.S. Women's Opens, with a third scheduled for 2007, Pine Needles was already well regarded and long considered one of Ross's favorite courses to play—but work was needed. Green contours had eroded. The original bunkering had shifted, sometimes radically. The eponymous pines had encroached upon the fairways, altering landing areas. Technology had rendered many of Ross's hazards mere decorative items.

Fought spent hours studying Ross's original drawings and newspaper clippings from the course's 1928 opening, even consulting old aerial photographs. He then went to work moving fairway bunkers down-range, raising greens, restoring slopes and runoffs and adding pro tees to restore challenging carries— ultimately lengthening the course by 300 yards to eclipse 7,000 from the tips.

It was no stretch to call the "old" Pine Needles the second best course in the Pinehurst area. But the "new" Pine Needles is again the course that Ross himself couldn't wait to play.

GREENS FEES: $90-$190. TEE TIMES: 800-747-7272 or visit pineneedles-midpines.com.

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