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 first of a three-part series detailing some of our area’s connection with one of golf’s most storied events.
Pinehurst No. 2 – Site of Multiple U.S. Open Championships
On September 9th, 2020, Pinehurst Resort & Country Club left a U.S. Open flag up on Pinehurst No. 2’s 18th green for the entirety of one of the most remarkable days in Pinehurst’s storied history.
That morning, the United States Golf Association (USGA) announced that it would establish “Golf House Pinehurst” in the North Carolina Sandhills — which will include, by 2023, a new equipment-testing facility, innovation hub, museum, and visitor center. The $25 million investment includes the construction of two buildings that will house 50 full-time USGA staff members near the clubhouse on the historic Pinehurst Resort property.
An official groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility was held on June 6, 2022.
Most exciting for golf fans, the USGA also announced four additional U.S. Open Championships to be contested on Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s famed Course No. 2 – in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047 – joining the previously scheduled 2024 national championship. For the second time ever, in 2029, the men’s and women’s championships will be contested in consecutive weeks.
The historic news means Pinehurst and the Sandhills of North Carolina will serve as the USGA’s first anchor site for the U.S. Open. “There is no better place for the USGA to plant new roots than the Home of American Golf,” said USGA CEO Mike Davis.
“The USGA and Pinehurst Resort have a deep and storied history of partnering to foster the game of golf and crown its greatest champions,” said Bob Dedman Jr., speaking on behalf of the Dedman family, which owns Pinehurst Resort. “We are honored to be selected as the U.S. Open’s first anchor site, an unprecedented distinction and testament to Pinehurst No. 2’s legacy and future as a championship test for the world’s greatest golfers.”
The announcement further solidified the Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen region’s long held, close ties with the USGA and its national championships.
Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s famed Course No. 2 is currently prepping to host the 2024 U.S. Open Championship — what will be Pinehurst’s fourth U.S. Open and 11th USGA championship. “Pinehurst has elevated itself to one of the great and historic places in golf in this country,” said Thomas J. O’Toole Jr., USGA president, when making the announcement. “Some say it’s our St. Andrews – it’s certainly something special.”
A decade prior, in 2014, the resort hosted the historic, back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships and will do so again in 2029. Before that, Pinehurst was the site of U.S. Opens in 2005 and 1999. Many consider the 1999 U.S. Open on No. 2 — where Payne Stewart drained a 20-foot putt on the 72nd hole to seal a one-stroke victory over expectant father Phil Mickelson, on Father’s Day, no less — to be the greatest national championship our country has ever contested.
119th U.S. Amateur Championship
History was also made during the summer of 2019, when the recently redesigned Pinehurst No. 4 along with No. 2, served as the golf course for the 36-hole match-play final of the 119th U.S. Amateur Championship. For the championship match both courses were used, marking the first time the 36-hole U.S. Amateur Championship final has been contested over two golf courses. “We’ve always looked at No. 4 not as a tribute course, but as more of a companion course to No. 2,” said architect Gil Hanse. “I think it would be a huge mistake to try and replicate, or even come close, to those greens [on No. 2]. If you play the course (No. 4) and try to think your way through it, you’ll find that a lot of slopes actually move balls toward the greens.”
Pine Needles – Site of Multiple U.S. Women’s Open Championships
In June 2022, Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines became the first venue to host four U.S. Women’s Opens, producing another world-class winner in Minjee Lee. The previous three championships at Pine Needles were captured by the uber-impressive triumvirate of Annika Sörenstam (1996), Karrie Webb (2001) and Cristie Kerr (2007). The 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles was won by 54-year-old Swede Helen Alfredsson.
One of Donald Ross’s most praiseworthy creations and routinely listed among North Carolina’s top courses, Pine Needles was renovated in 2004 by John Fought, who oversaw the restoration of greens and bunkers to their original forms with the aid of vintage aerial photos. In the summer of 2016, Kyle Franz assisted with a green rebuilding and bunker restoration project that aimed to maximize hole locations.
Mid Pines Renovation
Of course, you can’t mention Pine Needles without mentioning its sister course across Midland Road, Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club. Mid Pines is one of the great walking golf courses in the country. Slightly different terrain, soil composition and vegetation give the Mid Pines course — designed by Ross and opened in 1921 — a distinguishing look and feel from Pine Needles. Though relatively short and subtle, Mid Pines is hillier than Pine Needles and more than holds its own, standing proudly as a golf course most players enjoy playing every day. Franz impeccably restored Mid Pines in 2013. The renovation was honored with GOLF Magazine’s “Best U.S. Resort Renovation” and “Restoration of the Year.”
“The pendulum has swung back to classic golf-course design,” said the resort’s late, great matriarch Peggy Kirk Bell. “People today are trying to build golf courses like Mid Pines. But we have the original.”