As the “Home of American Golf,” the Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen area has long held close ties with the U.S. Open. This is the final of a three-part series detailing some of our area’s connection with one of golf’s most storied events.
North Carolina’s storied Sandhills region provides residents and visitors with the artistic design genius of history’s most renowned golf course architects, a pantheon of names that starts and finishes with Donald Ross, naturally, but which reads like a virtual Who’s Who. Also represented with works of art in the region are renowned, modern-day architects like “The U.S. Open Doctor,” Rees Jones, Tom Fazio, Gil Hanse, the late Mike Strantz and others.
Pinehurst No. 8 opened in 1996 to commemorate Pinehurst’s centennial year. Fazio incorporated signature Ross features into the design, including dips and swales around the greens, sloping greens and false fronts. The greens and tees are close together, making it a pleasure to walk.
Pinehurst-area golf has not been the same since the 1998 opening of Tobacco Road in Sanford. Located in the heart of the North Carolina’s Sandhills, Tobacco Road is a course of such uncommon beauty it thrills and captures the imagination with its creativity. Carving his way through an old sand quarry, Strantz created one of the most celebrated and talked about courses in the world. When you are planning your golf trip to the Home of American Golf, look no further than this one-of-a-kind thrill ride.
In 2018, the Village of Pinehurst Area Chapter of the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) named Talamore Golf Resort the “Course of the Year.” The prestigious award came after a major restoration was performed on the golf course in 2016. Talamore’s green complexes were restored to their original 1991 Jones design by recapturing the greens surrounds, which had been encroached by native Bermuda grasses. The Talamore green complexes were converted from bent grass to Champion Bermuda and have received rave reviews. Talamore also received a major clubhouse renovation that included an expanded bar, enclosed rear patio and comfortable seating with a unique new old time, rustic feel.
In 2021, The Country Club of North Carolina (CCNC) hosted another USGA championship event, the U.S. Junior Amateur, won by Nick Dunlap over Cohen Trolio 3 and 2. This was the third USGA event contested at CCNC since the club’s debut in 1963. CCNC also became the 16th site to have hosted both the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior. In 2010, Doris Chen defeated Katelyn Dambaugh, 3 and 2, to win the U.S. Girls’ Junior. In 1980, Hal Sutton won the U.S. Amateur by defeating Bob Lewis Jr., 9 and 8, in the championship match, to cap off a remarkable summer in which he claimed the Western Amateur, the North and South Amateur at nearby Pinehurst Resort & Country Club and the Northeast Amateur.
Besides its two previous USGA championships, CCNC has also played host to the 1972 U.S. Professional Match-Play Championship (won by Jack Nicklaus), seven Southern Amateurs, four Carolinas Amateurs and seven North Carolina Amateurs. The list of Southern Amateur champions includes Ben Crenshaw (1971), Len Mattiace (1985) and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (2007).
CCNC’s Dogwood Course served as the host site for both stroke play and match play, while the club’s Cardinal Course was the stroke-play co-host. The Dogwood Course was designed by Ellis Maples and Willard Byrd and renovated by Kris Spence in 2016. The Cardinal Course, originally designed by Byrd and Robert Trent Jones Sr., was renovated by Arthur Hills, from 1999-2002.
Clearly, no other North American destination offers the combination of Sandhills-style links golf blended with rich history and tradition, all set in quaint surroundings of New England style towns and villages. Anyone for whom golf runs through the soul must make a pilgrimage to the North Carolina Sandhills and the “Home of American Golf.”