Midland Road: The “Fifth Avenue of Golf”
Offering groundbreaking golf designs and insight into the history of the game, including U.S. Opens and Ryder Cups, Midland Road has rightfully earned its nickname: The “Fifth Avenue of Golf”
Visitors from the north nearing Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen approach an impressive traffic circle similar to a larger version of the ubiquitous European roundabout. Consistent with the curving roads designed by the firm of acclaimed architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the traffic circle has stood proudly for more than a half-century as the unofficial entrance to the Home of American Golf.
Bear right off the circle at the Hwy. 2 exit and one is suddenly transported along the Sandhills’ most famed thoroughfare: Midland Road, a scenic, National Historic Landmark recognized as the Tar Heel State’s inaugural four-lane road. This important artery is the primary connector between a pair of golfing Meccas: The Village of Pinehurst and the town of Southern Pines.
Appropriately, perhaps, Midland Road ends on the “other side of the circle,” not far from the second green of Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s famed Course No. 2, currently prepping for the 2024 U.S. Open Championship — the fourth U.S. Open and 11th USGA championship at Pinehurst. “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.”
Prior to the 2024 U.S. Open, Pinehurst has played host to the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. The resort hosted the historic back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships in June 2014, along with U.S. Opens in 2005 and 1999, and the 1951 Ryder Cup.
Like central California’s Monterey Peninsula and its famed 17 Mile Drive — and considering its proximity to Pinehurst No. 2, as well as the myriad of other world-class golf courses that lie along its path — Midland Road has through the years proudly earned its moniker, the “Fifth Avenue of Golf.”
For the true golf enthusiast there is no better boulevard representing the history and heritage of golf. Years ago, a trolley ran the length of the road providing visitors from the northeast with an efficient way to reach resorts in the Village of Pinehurst after they disembarked the train in Southern Pines. Massive longleaf and loblolly pines provide a soothing canopy above the surrounding golf courses and communities. If these trees could talk, they’d surely share tales and stories of the past century-plus from the likes of Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and, of course, architect Donald Ross, who called the area home and designed many of its most storied layouts.
Traveling along this six-mile route, one passes courses that opened all the way from 1907 through the late 20th century, designed by history’s most renowned golf course architects, including Ross, Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Rees Jones. More than a third of the area’s golf courses are accessible via Midland Road. All are within a short distance of one another. As Fifth Avenue’s shops are the jewels of the crown, so are the numerous golf courses you’ll see during your travel down the Sandhills’ scenic driveway.
For the golf connoisseur, there is no shortage of eye candy. Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club is another legendary Ross masterpiece, the site of three U.S. Women’s Open Championships, the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open and the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open. To play at Pine Needles — and, of course, its sister course across the street, Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club — is to live and breathe Ross golf. Pine Needles is routinely ranked among the best golf courses in North Carolina and for good reason, as it possesses the same rustic look and routing as when it opened in 1927. Mid Pines was impeccably restored by Kyle Franz in 2013 — a renovation that was honored with GOLF Magazine’s Best U.S. Resort Renovation and Restoration of the Year.
The New Course at Talamore Golf Resort and King’s Course at Mid South are sister properties under the Talamore Golf Resort umbrella of clubs. In more than a quarter century since this innovative resort near the Village of Pinehurst first debuted — offering llamas as caddies — the popular Sandhills golf getaway has remained on the cutting edge of resort innovation. In 2018, the Village of Pinehurst Area Chapter of the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) named the New Course at Talamore the “Course of the Year 2018.” The prestigious award came after a major restoration was performed on the golf course in 2016. A year later, the Arnold Palmer-designed King’s Course at Mid South — the only Palmer Signature course in the Sandhills — underwent a similar golf course restoration and greens conversion along with numerous other club enhancements.
In all, these projects were among $6 million in capital improvements at Talamore’s four North Carolina and Pennsylvania facilities. Post renovation, The King’s Course at Mid South vaulted up the state rankings to No. 44, while the New Course at Talamore catapulted to No. 83.
Other notable “Fifth Avenue” courses along Midland Road are Pinehurst No. 9, featuring 18 immaculate, Nicklaus-designed holes, with wide, lush fairways, undulating green complexes and compelling, well-balanced features; Longleaf Golf & Family Club, an enjoyably playable Dan Maples design, constructed on the former site of an equestrian training facility; and a pair of fun, walkable 9-hole layouts, Midland Country Club, designed by Tom Jackson and Knollwood Fairways & Driving Range, designed by C.A. Pitts.
So please, come visit the Home of American Golf as soon as possible. The area is an easy destination for most of the mid-Atlantic and a one-hour drive south after arriving into Raleigh-Durham International airport.
And don’t forget: Golf clubs and a camera are travel essentials for any golf enthusiast venturing down historic and beautiful Midland Road.