By Brad King
As we like to say around the Home of American Golf, “When the dogleg bites, when the bogey stings, when we’re feeling sad, we simply remember our favorite things, and then we don’t feel so bad.”
With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, there really are an embarrassment of riches in the Sandhills region of North Carolina, particularly when it comes to golf and the associated activities and amenities.
Around the Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen area, these are a few of our favorite things:
The words “championship golf” and “Pinehurst No. 2” go together like a hand and glove. In 2024, Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s crown jewel will play host to its fourth United States Open Championship in the past 25 years, including the men’s U.S. Opens in 1999 and 2005, and the historic, back-to-back men’s and women’s championships in 2014. The USGA is in the process of constructing its second headquarters — Golf House Pinehurst — while No. 2 will serve as the USGA anchor site for future championships in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.
Another Donald Ross design dating to the early 1900s, Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club is the place for women’s championship golf. The 2022 U.S. Women’s Open became the seventh USGA championship contested at Pine Needles including three previous U.S. Women’s Opens.
One of the area’s other championship golf experiences is Legacy Golf Links, located in Aberdeen. The Nicklaus Design is one of the few courses in the Sandhills area that has played host to a USGA National Championship.
Southern Pines Golf Club is an early 1900s Ross course that reopened in the fall of 2021 after a major restoration by Kyle Franz that includes new greens and tees, rebuilt bunkers and cart paths. Franz says the golf course project evoked the essence of a Ross original.
Half an hour’s drive north, golf architecture enthusiasts flock in droves to the quirky design and aesthetic drama of Tobacco Road Golf Club, designed in the late 1990s by the late Mike Strantz.
Designed by Peter Tufts III, godson of Ross, and opened in 1976, Seven Lakes Country Club in West End — 10 miles from the Village of Pinehurst — boasts a history and heritage of excellence in course design.
Here are a few more undiscovered local favorites.
The nine-hole Cradle Short Course, just steps outside the Pinehurst Resort, has been an overwhelming smash hit with all golfers, but with the millennial crowd in particular. The Gil Hanse-designed, par-3 layout is the perfect venue for twilight “emergency nines” and to enjoy a beverage from the Cradle Crossing Bar.
In Southern Pines, Talamore Golf Resort recently debuted one of the hottest innovations in golf — Toptracer technology at its new Toptracer Range. Toptracer technology uses high-speed cameras, coupled with sophisticated computer algorithms, to provide instantaneous ball tracking information to guests using the range featuring nine hitting bays.
Bottlebrush is a six-hole par 3 course located on the grounds of Longleaf Golf & Family Club in Southern Pines. The Bill Bergin designed layout has holes ranging from 50 to 100 yards in length (about 450 yards total) and offers a wide variety of well-contoured and picturesque holes to challenge any player.
The latest iteration of Pinehurst Resort’s continued evolution is the on-going renovation of The Carolina Hotel that is being done in three stages to ensure only a limited impact on the guest’s stay. The extent of the room renovations will be finished ahead of the 2024 U.S. Open.
Pinehurst Resort lodging is available at three historic hotels all located in the Village of Pinehurst: the stately Carolina, the charming Holly Inn and the relaxing Manor. The Resort also has acquired one of the Village’s most iconic hotels, The Magnolia Inn, and Villaggio Ristorante & Bar.
Talamore Golf Resort in Southern Pines features exceptional lodging with the Talamore Villas and the equally luxurious Lodges at Mid South, while The Palmer Cottage comfortably and luxuriously sleeps eight.
Another Village of Pinehurst icon is the Pine Crest Inn. Once owned by Ross, the Pine Crest is known for its fabulous food, friendly bar, and wonderful accommodations. Its pub cannot be missed.
The area’s newest hotel is the $15-million Hilton Garden Inn in Aberdeen, which sits adjacent to the Hampton Inn & Suites and TownePlace Suites by Marriott.
At Betsy’s Crepes in the heart of downtown Southern Pines, patrons enjoy savory and sweet dessert crepes, plus tasty soups, Panini sandwiches and salads. Crepes are fresh, flavorful, tasty and so filling. The iconic Villager Deli in Pinehurst serves up reasonably priced and downhome breakfasts feature fresh daily quiches, breakfast casserole, avocado toast, eggs to order, huge pancakes, waffles, homemade biscuits and muffins, grits, and country ham. The palatial breakfast buffet in the Carolina Hotel Dining Room is a bucket-list culinary experience. A true step back in time, the Carolina Dining Room is part of the National Registry. Pinehurst Harness Track is a pleasantly short walk from the Pinehurst Resort, where an affordable and prompt Southern breakfast at the Harness Track is tough to top.
The Pinehurst Brewing Company is a must-see experience. Local restaurants like Ashten’s and Elliott’s on Linden source the majority of their menus from local farmers that provide a wide variety of products including greens, cheese, meats, and yes, ostrich eggs. Other outstanding local restaurants include Chapman’s, Chef Warren’s Bistro, Scott’s Table, Wolcott’s and Sweet Basil.
The Deuce at Pinehurst Resort has been called the best 19th hole in golf and it would be hard to quibble when enjoying this veranda view overlooking Pinehurst No. 2’s famed finishing hole. A perfect place to cap off your round. Red’s Corner is a beer garden and food truck park in Southern Pines with a two-acre outdoor green space. The Drum & Quill Public House is the ideal spot to enjoy good cheer with old friends or new, welcoming individuals, families and friends to cozy up with a pint and enjoy a bite to eat. A Village institution just a short walk from the resort, Dugan’s Pub boasts the largest selection of import drafts and single malt scotches in Pinehurst. Here are few more of our favorite 19th holes.
The Old Sport & Gallery is part art gallery, bookshop, and memorabilia museum of all that makes golf great. Old Sport is one of the largest stores in the world that specializes in golf art. Old Sport also offers expert appraisal on old golf items. The Tufts Archives displays the rich heritage and history of Pinehurst. Original maps of Ross’s courses, photos of The Village since 1895 and various artifacts from the founders of the Village are on exhibit. The Payne Stewart statue on display near the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2 immortalizes a celebratory Stewart as he won the U.S. Open in 1999. Golf Pride has opened a first of its kind Retail Lab in the company’s 36,000-square-foot Global Innovation Center (GIC) Pinehurst, providing an “inside the ropes” Tour-like experience for golfers to choose the right grips for their game.