Pinehurst Major-itis

By Lee Pace

The eight trophies sit in a glass display case at the east end of Heritage Hall in the Pinehurst Resort Clubhouse. To one side is the outside veranda and then the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2, to the other a 100-foot hallway lined with photographs, memorabilia and shadow boxes telling the history of 125 years of golf at Pinehurst.

The trophies range from 18 to 36 inches tall, are crafted of silver and gold-plate and are named for Wanamaker and Ouimet and other luminaries in the game of golf. The prizes are precise replicas of the hardware originally presented to the likes of Payne Stewart, Michelle Wie and an American Ryder Cup team captained by Sam Snead. There is one for each of the “major” championships conducted at Pinehurst: U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women’s Amateur, the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup and U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Resort President and CEO Tom Pashley considers that there is not one golf club or resort on the planet that can display this same grouping. “Those trophies help give us a sense of place like no other,” he says.

Oakmont Country Club is perhaps the nation’s leader in most major golf championships. The venerable club in Pittsburgh with its signature Church Pew bunkers has hosted 17 majors, including nine U.S. Opens and three PGA Championships. And it will land its 10th Open in 2025. But it has never hosted the Ryder Cup or the Senior Open.

For breadth and the number of different national competitions, Pinehurst is without peer with a resume that includes the U.S. Open (1999, 2005, 2014), PGA Championship (1936), Ryder Cup (1951), Senior Open (1994), U.S. Amateur (1962, 2008, 2019), Women’s Open (2014) and Women’s Amateur (1989). All 11 of those were played on the No. 2 course, first opened by architect Donald Ross in 1907 and tweaked several times before arriving at his final routing in 1935.

Pinehurst has also been the venue for the Amateur Four-Ball (2017) and the first two U.S Adaptive Opens, held in 2022-23 at No. 6.

“Pinehurst has elevated itself to one of the great and historic places for golf in this country,” USGA President Tom O’Toole said in 2020 when No. 2 was appointed the first “anchor site” for the Open and awarded the 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047 events. “Some say it’s our St. Andrews. It’s certainly something special, and that’s why we’re going back there for the 2024 U.S. Open.”

during the final match at the 2021 U.S. Junior at The Country Club of North in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Chris Keane/USGA)

Expand the radius to include the private Country Club of North Carolina and the towns of Southern Pines and Aberdeen, and the Sandhills’ list of major events becomes more impressive.

CCNC has hosted the U.S. Amateur (1980), the Girls Junior (2010) and the Junior Amateur (2021).

Pine Needles, a 1928 Ross design, has hosted four Women’s Opens (1996, 2001, 2007 and 2022) as well as the Women’s Senior Open (2019), Senior Amateur (1991) and Girls Junior (1989).

Mid Pines, a 1921 Ross course, was the host site for the 2002 Women’s Senior Amateur, and Legacy Golf Links, a Jack Nicklaus II design that opened in 1991, was host to the 2002 Women’s Amateur Public Links.

The area’s stock as a bastion for competitive golf extends to 1900, when the founding Tufts family and an advertising consultant decided that annual competitions for both amateurs and professionals would be a good promotional vehicle. The North & South Amateur has been held every year since, and the North & South Open was held until 1951 and was considered one of the major championships of the early PGA Tour.

“The North and South had an immediate atmosphere of class and elegance,” historian and journalist Dan Jenkins wrote in Golf Digest in 1990. “Dress for dinner, veranda stuff. In fact, the North and South was the Masters before there was a Masters (1934) and for many years before the Masters finally out-Southerned the North and South.”


Lee Pace is a freelance golf writer who has written about Sandhills area golf for four decades and is the author of club histories about Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Mid Pines, Pine Needles and Forest Creek.

014: Lee Pace, author and publisher