There are things to do in Pinehurst, N.C., besides playing golf. You could test your croquet prowess, ride a horse, shoot skeet, play tennis . . . but why would anyone want to do anything except play golf here?
Ever since 1900, when James Walker Tufts hired a young Scottish pro named Donald Ross to keep guests of his Carolina Hotel from scaring the local dairy cows with their strange new stick-and-ball game, Pinehurst has been all about golf. Ross built four courses for the hotel (and about a half dozen others nearby), including his masterpiece, Course No. 2, which has hosted the Ryder Cup, the PGA Championship, the Tour Championship, the annual North and South Amateur, and the U.S. Open (which returns in 2005). The resort has added four courses in the decades since, and two more, Nos. 9 and 10, are on the drawing board.
With 144 different holes to play, it goes without saying that a day in Pinehurst is measured by starting times and four-and-a-half-hour rounds. By late afternoon, guests begin to wander down the curving, tree-shaded sidewalks of the Frederick Law Olmsted–designed Pinehurst Village, making their way to the piano bar at the Pinecrest Inn. Once owned by Donald Ross, the Pinecrest is not a watering hole, a pick-up place, or a soapbox for political discourse. It is a place where golfers go to talk golf. You review the day’s victories and defeats and plan the next day’s assault on par. Truth is not a frequent visitor at the rail of the Pinecrest’s bar. Raucous laughter and good stories are.
Everywhere you go in Pinehurst—the Carolina Hotel, the Pinecrest Inn, the Holly Inn, the Pinehurst Country Club—the walls are filled with photos of golfing greats, contemporary and legendary. You can’t help but stop and gawk at the captions. There’s the young Arnold Palmer, dashingly handsome with his curly forelock and ever-present cigarette. The chubby Nicklaus, muscle-bound in a tight-fitting T-shirt. Porky Oliver. Ed Furgol. Leo Diegel. Walter Hagen. Sam Snead. Hogan. Babe Zaharias. Peggy Kirk Bell, who owns the Pine Needles resort down the street.
Golf pervades everything here. At night, as you’re nursing a nightcap in the lobby bar, staff members or other guests will ask how you played today—and really want to know. Everyone will have a tip about your grip, the latest titanium driver, or a new course in the area you’ve simply got to play.
US Airways, which runs propjets into the local Moore County aerodrome, might have to leave your suitcase back in Raleigh because of weight considerations, but they will always make sure your golf clubs get on the plane. They understand the priorities in Pinehurst.
Pinehurst Resort, 800.487.4653, www.pinehurst.com