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PINEHURST, North Carolina – One month ago, Pinehurst Resort officially opened the completely redesigned No. 4 course. As you will read below, the historic moment in Pinehurst history would not have been possible without the contributions of three individuals with Bay State ties – James Walker Tufts, Donald Ross and most recently Gil Hanse.
The following story takes a look at Pinehurst’s inexorable connection to Massachusetts.
On September 20, the most storied grounds in American golf rung in a new era with the opening of the completely redesigned No. 4 course at Pinehurst Resort. By enlisting world-renowned golf course architect Gil Hanse, Pinehurst’s intentions to remain atop golf destination lists are clear.
Along with the reimagination of No. 4, Pinehurst has hired Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to restore the famed No. 2, acquired National Golf Club and transformed it into the No. 9 course, built a groundbreaking new short course called “The Cradle,” and is even converting an old steam plant into a microbrewery serving Pinehurst-themed craft beer. The 123-year-old golf village continues to evolve as the premier destination for golf enlightenment on the East Coast.
Pinehurst would not be the sanctuary it is today, however, without its inexorable connection to Massachusetts. One of The Commonwealth’s own James Walker Tufts was a talented entrepreneur born in Charlestown who made his fortune patenting soda fountain machines. He was the founder of the American Soda Fountain Company, and is widely hailed as one of Boston’s most influential businessmen. In 1895, he purchased 5,800 acres of land at $1 an acre in the Sandhills of North Carolina.
Tufts wanted to create a resort in an area with a mild and healthy climate where people suffering from tuberculosis – a common ailment during the Industrial Revolution – could come to recover. Most believed the “pine ozone” found in the Carolinas acted as a cure to respiratory illnesses. The philanthropic gesture quickly turned into a successful venture.
Tufts opened a general store, dairy farm, boarding house, more than 20 cottages, the Holly Inn and later, the Carolina Hotel. Recreational activities such as riding, hunting, polo, lawn bowling, bicycling, archery and tennis were the premier features among the village. Then, Tufts turned to golf.
As the tale goes, hotel guests introduced the game in the dairy cattle grazing fields, finding joy in hitting little white balls that disturbed the herd. Tufts took notice and hired Dr. D. Leroy Culver from New York to design and build a rudimentary nine-hole course at Pinehurst.
By 1900, Tufts was convinced golf was the key to Pinehurst’s future. He went a step further and hired a young Scottish golf professional by the name of Donald J. Ross. The young Ross was granted sole authority over the development of golf at the resort. His hiring marked the beginning of Pinehurst as one of the nation’s first and leading golf resorts.
“Pinehurst was absolutely the pioneer in American golf,” said Ross. “While golf had been played in a few places before Pinehurst was established, it was right here in these sandhills that the first great national movement in golf was started.”
Ross designed courses No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 at Pinehurst before going on to design or redesign more than 400 golf courses throughout North America. No. 2 was his first 18-hole golf course design – an amazing feat, considering it remains one of the world’s most celebrated golf courses to this day. It has hosted more golf championships than any other golf course in America. The U.S. Open will return in 2024 while the 2019 U.S. Amateur will be played on companion courses, No. 2 and No. 4.
This region of North Carolina still boasts a sandy aesthetic that is golf in its purest form. Gil Hanse, the mastermind behind the reimagination of No. 4, was given the opportunity to live in Donald Ross’s old home while working on the project.
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“We were taken by the beauty of the place,” says Hanse. “Living in Donald Ross’s house is one of the most meaningful things that has ever happened to us.”
Hanse has been dedicated to restoring the exposed sand, native wire grass and natural topography that existed in Ross’s original build.
“Golf and sand go together,” Ross once said.
There is a lot that goes together at Pinehurst. Golf and sand. Course 2 and course 4. Tufts and Ross. Ross and Hanse. It’s a natural, pure golf experience that cannot be replicated in America.
Pinehurst offers a wide variety of golf packages, including the popular Donald Ross Package, which includes two nights stay, three rounds of golf plus breakfast and dinner each day. For all golf packages, follow the link here.
Pinehurst is a very easy trip for most. There are many nonstop flights from Boston to Raleigh-Durham International Airport, which is just over an hour drive to Pinehurst. For those looking to drive, it’s within a half-day’s journey from many East Coast cities.
For more information, visit www.pinehurst.com