A visit to Pinehurst Resort should be on every golfer’s bucket list. “The Cradle” of American Golf, Pinehurst, has hosted 10 majors, including three U.S. Opens. The nine 18-hole courses, with 19 architects tied to them, the nine-hole par-3 “Cradle” course and the 15,000 square foot putting green with the Thistle Dhu (“This’ll Do”) putting course, will challenge your skill and test your imagination at every turn.
Around the world, Pinehurst is where the American golf story began and where it continues to flourish. Most know of its modern history – with stories like the Payne Stewart putt that won the 1999 U.S. Open. But how did it all begin? The history of Pinehurst may surprise you.
In 1895, James Walker Tufts, of Boston bought 5,800 acres of barren, sandy wasteland in the Sandhills of North Carolina to start a health resort. Tufts, named the resort Pinehurst, “pine” represented the trees and “hurst” an area of rising ground.
Tufts, hired famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, who had designed Central Park and the Biltmore Estate, to create a New England Style resort, with walkways and year-round greenery. A place for middle-class Americans to recuperate from the ailments of the time. Most believed those suffering from the respiratory illnesses as a result of the Industrial Revolution could be cured by the “pine ozone” only found in the region.
Resort features included two hotels (The Holly Inn, opened in 1895 and The Carolina Hotel, opened in 1901), cottages, a general store, horse-back riding, hunting, cycling and archery. The Carolina Inn served as the center of all activities surrounded by lush grounds, perfect for enjoying the outdoors and the warmth of the day.
Golf was not introduced until several years later when hotel guests were seen routinely hitting white balls at grazing livestock. New Yorker Dr. D. Leroy was then hired to build a golf course. In February 1898, a small nine-hole golf course was constructed, followed by a clubhouse a few months later. Pinehurst’s first golf professional, John Dunn Tucker, was hired in 1899 to add an additional nine. The course later became Pinehurst No. 1.
In 1900, Tufts hired Scottish golfer Donald Ross to supervise and direct golf operations. Ross remained with Pinehurst until his death in 1948. During that time, Ross designed or redesigned more than 400 golf courses throughout North America, earning the reputation of being one of the most prestigious golf architects in the country.
Ross’s work at Pinehurst begins with a redesign of Pinehurst No. 1. His first 18-hole design here was Pinehurst No. 2 which has hosted more golf championships than any other American course. What makes it so special are Ross’s trademark crowned, or turtleback, greens, which repel all but the best shots off the putting surface and into collection areas; this can leave diabolical recovery chips or putts to an uphill green that often return to where the previous shot started.
He later built No. 3, No. 4 and a rudimentary course for employees and caddies, all of which he continuously updated during the off-season.
Pinehurst Golf Club opened in 1903 and Pinehurst quickly became a major focus for golf in the U.S. The best in the world have played Pinehurst: Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Tiger Woods, Glenna Collett Vare, Babe Zaharias, Patty Berg, and Louise Suggs. Snead once proclaimed Pinehurst No. 2 “as my number one course.”
In 1980, Pinehurst became an incorporated municipality with ownership of the property shifting many times since then. In 1996, Pinehurst Resort became formally known as a National Landmark status for their achievements in golf history. Today, Pinehurst features 171 golf holes, 9 championship courses and the nine hole par-3 Cradle course.
What’s New at Pinehurst Resort
While Pinehurst Resort’s charms have been cultivated over more than 125 years of history, it never ceases to evolve and remain relevant to today’s guests. Some of the newest additions (or updates) include:
The Cradle Crossing – A halfway house on the ridge overlooking The Cradle Course (the nine-hole short course referred to by The Golf Channel as “the most fun 10 acres in all of golf” was added to replace the Pinecone.
If you are not fortunate enough to have experienced the Pinecone, the Pinecone was an old wooden bar cart on wheels. Featuring a variety of beverages, the Pinecone was a fixture on The Cradle for years. The Cradle Crossing is a major upgrade, providing a television, a full bar, Adirondack chairs, fire-pits, and an outdoor seating area for guests and players. Also included in The Cradle Crossing are a pair of much needed restrooms.
While the Pinecone has its own nostalgia, the Cradle Crossing is everything the Pinecone had and more.
The Pinecone isn’t going away either – it will continue to be used around Pinehurst Resort for special events.
The Pinehurst Brewing Company – The Pinehurst Brewing Co. occupies what was the original steam plant that powered the Village of Pinehurst in 1895. Overgrown and long abandoned, the steam plant has been brought back to life and now provides a different kind of energy to the Village. A place where neighbors and friends can gather, share a beer, some great food and simply recharge their spirit.
During the extensive renovation, care was taken to maintain as much of the original building as possible. The façade and the unique brick corbeling has been preserved and the vintage arches and windows have all been restored. Inside the brewhouse, the brick walls remain blackened from the decades it housed massive steam boilers. Original valves and pipes have been repurposed as legs beneath tables, light fixtures above the booths or simply remain on the brick walls.
Outside, the smokestack that was taken down years ago has been rebuilt. The trellis above the beer garden is designed to mimic the train track that was used to deliver coal to the plant. The trellis is supported by the same pylons that held the track in the early 1900s.
Pinehurst Brewing Co. is a unique experience, made all the more so by the walls that surround it. Enjoy some unique and refreshing beers all brewed on site and some of the best BBQ found anywhere all in a one-of-a-kind ambiance.
The Historic Manor – While the Manor’s original charm remains the same, a year-long renovation of the Inn built in 1923, transformed the Manor into a contemporary hotel, with well-appointed rooms and a spacious lobby.
The North & South Bar (at The Manor) – The newly opened North & South Bar serves a wide selection of whiskeys, cocktails and craft beer from Pinehurst Brewing Co. You will also find more than 10 in-house innovations incorporating the bar’s vast selections.
The old-school charm and classic style of golf is everywhere in The North & South. Vintage advertising and photos pay homage to the historic North & South Amateur Championship, played at Pinehurst since 1901, and known as the longest consecutively running amateur championship in America.
Carolina Hotel – Renovation (underway now) – Since opening in 1901, The Carolina Hotel’s signature copper cupola has signaled a welcome destination. That tradition continues as The Carolina’s guest rooms enjoy an expansive transformation, blending the modern luxuries the traveler has come to expect with the historic charm and comfort Pinehurst is known for. The refreshed rooms will be brighter in tone and feature all new fixtures, finishes and custom-built furniture. The rooms will be reconfigured with expanded bathrooms, while lighting and soundproofing will be improved.
The hotel’s lobby, room corridors and coffee shop will also be reimagined. Like the 2011 restoration of Pinehurst No. 2, careful attention will be taken to what came before in the 120-year-old hotel. The lobby’s floors, walls and ceilings will be updated, as will the lighting throughout. But all of it will have a nod to Pinehurst’s past, much like the Resort’s 2019 renovation of another of its historic hotels, The Manor.
“For over a century, The Carolina has stood as a storied landmark in our area,” says Tom Pashley, President of Pinehurst Resort. “We will draw inspiration from its origins to incorporate into the design of the interior spaces of this grand hotel. It is important to us that The Carolina serve the needs of today’s guest, but also that its original charm can be felt at every turn.”
The improvements will continue outside as well, none more evident than the Ryder Cup Terrace. For decades, Pinehurst’s guests have retreated to the sweeping verandas circling the Carolina Hotel, soaking in the sounds and pine-scented air that make the Sandhills of North Carolina so unique. Steps off the veranda and adjacent to the Ryder Cup Lounge, the Ryder Cup Terrace will feature cozy fire pits and soft seating, making it the perfect setting to begin an evening with a pre-dinner cocktail, or to wind down after a round.
As the return of the U.S. Open approaches and with the recent acquisition of The Magnolia Inn and Villaggio Ristorante & Bar, Pinehurst Resort continues to evolve.
“As we like to say, ‘It’s always Pinehurst, always better,’” Dedman says. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to give our guests the very best experience they can possibly have at Pinehurst.”
As Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story” but with a glimpse of what’s to come.