In The Beginning Was Pinehurst
Some states erect buildings as their monuments to golf. In North Carolina, we built an entire town: the elegant village of Pinehurst.
The real credit for Pinehurst and what it was to become belongs to a soda magnate by the name of James Walker Tufts. A sickly man who had been to many different health resorts around the world, Tufts felt he could improve on existing resort models. And he thought the pine-scented air and gentle climate of North Carolina’s Sandhills would offer uniquely restorative qualities for both himself and his guests. Two years after he began making his vision a reality, Tufts noticed some guests had brought their golf clubs and were scaring his cows with their occasionally misguided golf balls.
Being a natural entrepreneur, he immediately recognized an opportunity when he saw it; the design and construction of Pinehurst’s first golf course soon began. It is a tribute to Mr. Tufts’s resourcefulness that by 1900 – a mere five years after its inception – Pinehurst hosted an exhibition tournament featuring the legendary Harry Vardon. Some golf historians say that America’s love affair with golf can be traced to this event.
Mr. Tufts had some help in arranging this tournament. Earlier, he had hired a quiet Scotsman who was to become America’s greatest golf architects: Donald Ross. Ross found the perfect confluence of topography, climate and creative freedom here in the Sandhills. He not only designed seven courses in and around the village, his shop here was also the "laboratory" where Ross cooked up many of the innovative ideas he used on the 401 courses he designed across America.
Ross’s greatest masterpiece, of course, is Pinehurst No. 2. It is perennially ranked among the top handful of courses on the planet. Timeless, sublime golf courses are just a part of Ross’ legacy. He and Mr. Tufts left behind an elegant style of golf in Pinehurst that’s utterly unique in America.
Hall of Fame sports columnist, Ron Green captures the feeling one gets in Pinehurst this way: "There’s a special beauty to the place. An elegance and a peace. It’s just all about golf – beautiful, beautiful golf. And there’s a spirit there that I’ve only felt one other place – when I was at St. Andrews in Scotland."
Mr. Green isn’t alone in his assessment of Pinehurst. This quotation comes from the St. Andrews Links trust: "Of all the great golf centers of the world, there is only one that comes close to sharing the ideals and aspirations of St. Andrews: Pinehurst."
Small wonder many consider it to be the alpha and the omega of American golf.
added: December 19, 2008
updated: January 14, 2009
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