My whole life I’ve lived with some of the most prestigious golf courses in my backyard.  Most would consider it pretty lucky to have grown up playing these courses, and I’d have to agree.  For the Downing family, golf has always been a preferred sport–it’s the reason my family moved to the Pinehurst area in the 70s.

There are a lot of courses to choose from in Pinehurst and the surrounding Sandhills area, and these are my top 3 area courses.

ONE:  Mid Pines Golf Course


Dubbed a “pure Donald Ross” course, Mid Pines Golf Course still boasts the feel created by Ross in 1921.  It’s truly a classic course in the area.

Favorite Hole:  15; It’s a downhill par 5 with an elevated green.  Hit a couple good shots and you can be on the green in 2.

Biggest Challenge:  The greens.  The slope will definitely test your green-reading abilities, but that’s all apart of the fun, right?

Best For:  Mid Pines Golf Course can be enjoyed by all golfers, but I tend to recommend it for the more seasoned golfer.

TWO:  Pine Needles Golf Course


The Pine Needles Golf Course was built in the 1950s and was restored by John Fought, a Donald Ross enthusiast.  The course measures more than 7,000 yards long.

Favorite Hole:  10; It’s a par 5, big dog leg left.  Just a fun hole overall.

Biggest Challenge:  The undulation of the greens is even trickier than Mid Pines Golf Course.

Best For:  Pine Needles Golf Course is a pretty open and friendly course for all golfers.

THREE:  Mid South Club


The Mid South Club is an Arnold Palmer Signature Course built in 1993 by Ed Seay and Arnold Palmer.  It’s definitely a must-play in my opinion.

Favorite Hole:  9; Yet again, a par 5.  It’s downhill with water in front of the double green.

Biggest Challenge:  Approach shots.  Have your wedges ready.

Best For:  All golfers can enjoy the Mid South Club.

I could play these courses over and over, and if you haven’t given them a try, I highly recommend them.