Tucked among the pines, off Umstead Road between Cole Mill and Guess in Durham, sits a 60-year-old golf course that many people I talk to are not familiar with. Umstead Pines (formerly Willowhaven) is a George Cobb design that is enjoyable, challenging and reasonable, all wrapped up in one.
The front nine holes are par 36 and measure 3100 yards from the blue tees. There is a mixture of dogleg left and right designs, and you can hit driver on all of the par fours and par fives on this side except for number eight.
Several fairways have strategic traps and there are greenside bunkers on all holes. Both outward nine par fives are short and a good drive on number nine puts you in position to go for the green in two. Both par threes on the front are a moderate 150-160 yards.
You can stop for a snack at the club before you head across the road to a much tougher back nine. The inward nine measures 3343 and is also a par 36. There are three par fours (13-15) that are the heart of the course. Lucky number thirteen is a straight 431 yards and the number one handicap hole.
Fourteen and fifteen are both dogleg rights that measure just shy of 400 yards each and are the number seven and number three handicaps. All three of these holes require good drives to be in position to hit the green in regulation. The two par threes are both over 180 yards including number eighteen which is a full carry across a pond.
The greens are bent grass; they are in good shape and roll maybe a little quicker than several of the public courses around. Fairways are above average and the rough is challenging. The place is a bargain Monday through Thursday for a flat riding rate of $27.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday range between $37 and $49 before two and $32-$34 after 2. There is a nice driving range with quality balls and an adequate putting green.
The blue tees will challenge you and the white tees at 6063 yards will be a very enjoyable day. Put Umstead Pines on your list and give them a try soon. Call 919-383-1022 for info or make an online tee time at www.umsteadpines.com. Course is at 253 Country Club Dr., Durham.