By Charlene & Richard Mixa
The North Carolina Sandhills Offer a Golf Mecca
Imagination and vision! Inspiration and drive! Boston business man James Walker Tufts possessed these traits in creating Pinehurst Village in the Sandhills of North Carolina. Initially an idea as a winter resort for New Englanders, in 1895 the Village was built around an oval green with winding roads. In a few years with the guests’ interest in the “little white ball”, Tufts added golf to the vacation resort. An unexpected inspiration came in 1900 when Tufts convinced Donald Ross from Scotland to design a golf course for Pinehurst. Ross became a founding father and icon of American Golf. The courses he designed at Pinehurst still rank among the finest. A desire for many avid golfers is to experience Pinehurst and this golfing Mecca.
Winding roads welcome and confuse us as we arrive in Pinehurst Village. It is easier to park the car and walk. Arriving at 1:00 PM, we enjoy lunch at Dugan’s Pub and begin to transform ourselves to the aura of Pinehurst. Meandering the twisting roads to find our hotel, we stop at the award-winning Carolina Hotel to experience first hand its Southern charm. The Carolina welcomes us with its stately columns and gracious lobby. With a warm greeting by the concierge, Priscilla, we quickly sign up for an 8:16AM tee time on Pinehurst No. 5 the next morning and dinner the following evening in the Carolina Dining Room.
Next we carefully follow the map to the Manor Inn where Mary Kay greets us. The Manor offers a more relaxed lodge-style atmosphere. Our timing in choosing to arrive following a holiday weekend is perfect as the Inn isn’t busy. Mary Kay shares that Arnold Palmer stays at the Manor Inn anytime he returns to Pinehurst. He always fondly recalls his visits as a boy with his dad. Mary Kay offers us the one bedroom suite, just like Arnie gets. The suite is perfect. It is great to have a separate living area and bedroom, with plenty of space to spread out. It is fun to think of how many times Arnie and other famous golfers have enjoyed these same comfortable suites.
Pinehurst Golf Club is the next stop! Awesome! Pinehurst offers eight world-class golf courses. With a 50% off the green fees after 4:00 PM, the obvious thing is to play golf! Slipping into our golf shoes and grabbing our clubs we are quickly playing Pinehurst No. 1. A shorter course from the blues at 6,093 yards par 70 and 5,214 for the ladies the course is a favorite for a great starting round. Playing as a twosome the course is pleasantly challenging; however, the pace of play is slow. We eventually join another couple for the final holes.
Arising early we go to the lobby for our continental breakfast. Breakfast is very basic with some pastries, sweet rolls and cereal. Now to play Pinehurst No. 5. It is a beautiful clear morning! A perfect day for golf in the Sandhills of North Carolina! This is a gracious course with rolling hills and in terrific condition. Uphill and downhill holes, left-to-right or right-to-left doglegs add to the fun of Pinehurst No.5. It meets our expectations for a Pinehurst Course. In fact the Pinehurst No. 5 has more water hazards than any other course at Pinehurst. An exciting course No. 5 offers plenty of challenge for any golfer. As a twosome it was a perfect pace of play.
Fantastic and huge describe the Pinehurst Golf Shop. There is a varied and extensive selection of golf clothing and memorabilia. Getting our clubs, we see foursomes teeing off on the famous Pinehurst #2. Caddies are required and it is a walking course which of course comes with a hefty fee. Maybe next time we’ll take on Pinehurst #2.
Outside the club house are statues of Donald Ross, William Tufts and the dramatic statue of Payne Stewart with his arm in a fist pump and balanced on one leg after winning the US Open in 1999. This is more memorable with Payne’s death a few months later. Photo opportunity with me and the infamous Putter Boy statue, designed in 1912 by Lucy Richards as a sundial. The Putter Boy has become the symbol for Pinehurst and is on all golf memorabilia.
Tonight it’s dinner at Carolina Dining Room to experience a resort dinner in southern style. Our waiter is fun and professional. The meal is a three course dinner is excellent. Again, going after a holiday weekend, except for a large party, dining room is quiet. Afterwards, back at the Manor Inn we stop in the Hacker’s Pub for drinks. The Pub is the most exciting and busiest place at Pinehurst. It is great to sip our drinks and overhear the golfer’s stories of that “great shot” and their Pinehurst Experience.
If you go:
Pinehurst packages for accommodations and golf:
Pinehurst Resort, 80 Carolina Vista Drive, Village of Pinehurst, NC 28374
Dugan’s Pub, #2 Market Square, Pinehurst, NC 28370, (910) 295-3400