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History of Pinehurst: 2014 U.S. Open Site

History of Pinehurst: 2014 U.S. Open Site

History of Pinehurst: 2014 U.S. Open Site

A brief history, really, for a historic course in American golf.

Historic Pinehurst from the back, where the courses come right up to the lawn furniture.

Historic Pinehurst from the back, where the courses come right up to the lawn furniture.

For the third time, the United States Open Championship will be held at the Pinehurst Resort and Golf Club in North Carolina, near Charlotte.

First developed by James Walker Tufts in 1895 as a health resort, the barren former pine forest was not much more than sandy wasteland. Tufts acquired nearly 6,000 acres and began his concept of a small, walkable New England village in the south. Originally called “Tuftstown,” we can all be grateful that Mr. Tufts came up with a better name — Pinehurst.

Has certain ring to it, don’t you think?

The beautiful Carolina Inn opened in 1901 on the Pinehurst property. I’m sure that you’ve seen photos of this wonderful old place. It is the epitome of a fine Southern hotel with its white facade, delightful old enormous front porch (replete with rocking chairs), and its copper cupola rising to the sky.

I had the pleasure of staying there during one of my visits to Pinehurst. The creaky wooden floors, the tiny little bar in the lobby, and, oh yes, the requirement for gentlemen to wear a jacket to dinner in the main hall are all part of the charm.

Mr. Tufts had thousands of pine seedlings planted to fill in parts of the sand barrens to improve the scenery. Pinehurst had plenty to offer in its early years — archery, lawn bowling, riding, hunting, but no golf. Golf would not arrive until 1898 when Dr. D. Leroy Culver designed the first nine holes, and golf professional John Tucker would create the second nine the following year for what would become Pinehurst No. 1 Course.

In 1900, the now-famous Scot, Donald Ross, would be brought in to begin work on the next course, the legendary Pinehurst Course No. 2, where the U.S. Open is played. Not complete until 1907, this track started out with sand greens and wild native grasses on the borders of the fairways.

A young Donald Ross, Pinehurst's famed designer. Is it possible to look anymore Scottish?

A young Donald Ross, Pinehurst’s famed designer. Is it possible to look anymore Scottish?

Course No. 2, of course, went on to become one of Ross’ most celebrated masterpieces with its upside-down saucer shaped greens. This style tends to repel any shot not struck with extreme precision. But don’t worry. One of the better features of a Ross course is that he allowed room for chipping areas so that a golfer with a deft touch could get the ball up and down for par.

You can see how the ocean's reach is far off into Pinehurst Village, N.C., site of the U.S. Open.

You can see how the ocean’s reach is far off into Pinehurst Village, N.C., site of the U.S. Open.

Ross also created Pinehurst courses Nos. 3 and 4 (later redone by Tom Fazio). There are now eight total golf courses at the Pinehurst, designed by such greats as George and Tom Fazio, Ellis Maples and Rees Jones.
I’ve played them all, and they are all an enjoyable day of golf in the Carolina sunshine.

Here it is: The layout for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Course No. 2.

Here it is: The layout for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Course No. 2.

Over the years, Pinehurst has hosted many prestigious tournaments. Its North and South Championship series boasts its start in 1901, one of the country’s longest-running amateur events.

In 1936, The PGA Championship was conducted there. The 1951 Ryder Cup Matches and the 1962 and 2008 U.S. Amateur were held on its hallowed grounds.

But the defining moment for Pinehurst, of course — and what golf enthusiast could forget it — is of Payne Stewart rolling in his famous 15-foot putt in to defeat Phil Mickelson during the 1999 U.S. Open? Or that our hero would perish just a few months later? Stewart and Pinehurst are now eternally linked in golf’s annals.


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