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10 reasons Pinehurst is a great American golf resort

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carolina hotel pinehurst

1. The Great American Stage  

The list of championships hosted at Pinehurst is as impressive as there is in golf. Pinehurst No. 2 hosted the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005, and will again in 2014, but its history as host to the United States' most storied events goes back much further.  

The North and South Amateur Championship has been at Pinehurst every year since 1901 and has crowned Francis Ouimet, Frank Stranahan, Jack Nicklaus, Hal Sutton and Davis Love III as champions. Women's winners include Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Alice Dye and Donna Andrews.  

Other events like the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup and Tour Championship have been staged at No. 2, and 2014 marks the first time the USGA will host both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open at the same course in consecutive weeks.

2. Links to Scotland
Pinehurst's early 20th-century success with golf is attributed to its close link to Scotland. Donald Ross grew up at Royal Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands and trained under Tom Morris in St. Andrews before making his way to Pinehurst in 1900 and building Nos. 1 through 4 over the next four decades.  

payne pinehurst
Payne Stewart makes par at 18 to win the 1999 U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
In 2005, sand from the Road Hole bunker at St. Andrews was placed into the greenside bunker at No. 2’s 18th hole to commemorate the link between both storied grounds, and a St. Andrews Room was also recently added to the clubhouse.  

Consider it the meeting of Southern hospitality with the golf heritage of Scotland. 

“To me there’s something about Pinehurst that tops even the position which it naturally occupies as the St. Andrews of American golf. And that is the people you find there, and play golf with, and exchange reminiscences with – the hosts of Pinehurst, which always make you feel happily at home,” Bobby Jones once said. 

3. The Sandhills are alive...
Pinehurst Resort is set on 2,000 acres of beautiful Carolina Sandhills, a strip of ancient sand dunes and evidence of where the ocean coast used to be, so preserving this unique environment is paramount.  

The resort was the first privately-owned property to enter the Safe Harbor Program, which protects the habitats of endangered species, and No. 8 is a Certified Audubon Sanctuary course.  

In 2006, the resort was also presented with the Presidents Award for Environmental Stewardship, the highest environmental award given by the Golf Course Superintendent's Association of America.  

4. A Family Affair  
In 1916, James Barber built the first mini-golf course in America at Pinehurst, the 'Liliputian” course. The resort has carried the spirit of kid and family-friendly golf for any age, from the practice center to shorter golf courses like No. 3, which provides both a good warm up for dad or a worthy test for juniors.  

Each course (except No. 2) offers a forward set of 'family tees' and kids under 12 stay, play and eat free when they come with a paid parent.  

Competitive youngsters can enter one of several U.S. Kids Golf events throughout the summer or enter the 63rd Donald Ross Junior Championship in December. And families can enter the Parent-Child Tournament, June 25-27, the weekend before the 110th North and South Amateur Championship.  

5. Architect of American golf  
The spread of golf across America in the early 20th century can be traced to one architect more than anyone else: Donald Ross. The same year Ross came to Pinehurst in 1900, the Pinehurst Outlook reported that “golf is rolling over the country like a great tidal wave and gaining power as it advances,' and much of its ensuing growth was fueled by Ross' expertise.

Ross is estimated to have had a hand in more than 400 golf courses, including Oakland Hills, Seminole and nearby Pine Needles, while many others he plotted out from his cottage off the third green of No. 2.  

6. Almanac of Architecture  
More than a century of golf design is on display at the resort and surrounding area, from a handful of some of the most notable architects in the game. It starts with Ross, who built Nos. 1 through 4 all before 1920.  

His successor, Ellis Maples added No. 5, Rees Jones built No. 7 in 1986, and Tom Fazio added dramatic stylings on No. 4 (redesigned), No. 6 (with his uncle George Fazio) and lastly No. 8, commemorating the resort's Centennial.  

Currently, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, one of the best design firms currently thanks to their natural, functional designs, are overseeing a restoration project at No. 2.  

Head outside the resort and you'll notice just about every golf course designer has coveted the Sandhills, including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Mike Strantz and many of others.  

And on a rainy day, you can dig deeper at the Tufts Archives, chronicling the history of Pinehurst from its origins with over 100,000 images and 300 sketches of Donald Ross' course layouts among other memorabilia.  

7. A Good Walk  
Somehow in the 1980s, it became acceptable – practically encouraged – to build golf courses impossible to walk, with long distances between holes and steep hills in between. Golf carts had become king.  

As it becomes harder to find exercise in our daily lives, the walkability factor at Pinehurst is a testament to the eight courses, even those built and rebuilt in the modern era, classically-designed for walkers of any age.

The resort's caddie program also makes it easy to play the way the game was intended in the first place, and some of the caddies have spent most of their lives telling stories and reading greens here.

8. Before, after golf  
When Pinehurst opened in 1895 it was intended to be a health resort, catering to patients recovering from tuberculosis who had no plans of playing golf. It wasn't until guests of the hotel were spotted whacking white balls around the lawn in 1897 that owner James W. Tufts got the hint and ordered plans for a 9-hole course.

Off-course activities have always been abundant at Pinehurst, from tennis, to swimming, to croquet, down to the spa that was added in 2002. Professional sharpshooter Annie Oakley joined the Pinehurst staff in 1916 to offer shooting lessons, and today you can still shoot sporting clays 35 minutes from the resort amid 65 acres of woodlands.  

9. Practice Makes Perfect  
Driving ranges weren't always a given at golf clubs like they are today. Visit a 19th-century Scottish club and chances are there's no range on site. If there is, it was probably added recently.

So when 'Maniac Hill' was created at Pinehurst in 1913 to allow golfers to work on everything from chipping to full shots without hogging the golf course, it became the first practice facility in North America.  

Today, driving ranges and teaching academies have become modern science, and Pinehurst's practice grounds have since upgraded into a full Golf Academy, now featuring state-of-the-art facilities completed in 2006 to go with its situational course instruction on Pinehurst’s eight courses.  

10. Where Everyone is Welcome  
Pinehurst is one of America's most accessible major championship venues, where you can attempt the same shots as recent U.S. Open winners Payne Stewart and Michael Campbell, where Ben Hogan won his first professional event in 1940 and where Johnny Miller won on the second playoff hole (No. 16) with a birdie over Jack Nicklaus in the 1974 World Open.  

Hit a putt from where Stewart won the ‘99 Open at 18, try and avoid any 11s on No. 2, unlike John Daly's final round score on the eighth hole – or attempt to drive the 368-yard 13th hole like 2008 U.S. Amateur Champion Danny Lee.  

But you don't have to play No. 2 to experience Pinehurst. Stay-and-play packages are available for every budget, from the 'Pinehurst Perfecta” package that offers guests the best the resort has to offer, to affordable unlimited golf and off-season specials, making it possible for any golfer eager to experience America's meeting with golf to discover their own Pinehurst.