Rekindle the romance that’s missing from your everyday life with a visit to the Pinehurst and Southern Pines area. Sometimes you just have to get away to create some excitement. This region known as the Home of American Golf boasts plenty of personality to fit everyone. If you have a partner who loves golf as much as you do, you’re quite lucky. But even if you’re into golfing and your partner is not, you can still sneak in a round or two and not be a bore. Pinehurst caters to your need to hit the greens while keeping your partner happily occupied.
Playing It Up
Pinehurst Resort oozes golf history. The 120-year-old retreat today offers nine 18-hole layouts, plus a short course and a putting course. Each has developed its own legend, but none so much as Pinehurst No. 2. The home of more American championships than any other course, No. 2 brings out the greatness in a round, and it’s difficult to not imagine Payne Stewart and Michelle Wie satisfying the crowds on this Donald Ross challenge. You’ll want to play it—and splurge for a caddy—to have an expert read ball placement is a mighty advantage on this behemoth. Newer Pinehurst layouts are writing their own stories as well. Course architect Gil Hanse reimagined No. 4, well worth your efforts. Short of time? Play The Cradle. Also designed by Hanse, these 9 holes are meant to be undertaken in an hour with just 3 or 4 clubs—and it’s the best place on the property to hunt the elusive hole-in-one. Afterwards, take on Thistle Dhu. It’s 18 holes of mind-bending putting.
It won’t take you long to figure out there’s plenty more golf between Pinehurst, Southern Pines, and Aberdeen—23 courses are rated as 4-stars or better by Golf Digest. Other courses you’ll want to visit while you’re in the region include Pine Needles (a Donald Ross design run by World Golf Hall of Famer Peggy Kirk Bell’s family), Mid Pines (another Donald Ross design), Longleaf Golf & Family Club (a Dan Maples layout), and Talamore (a Rees Jones plan). You can even visit Talamore’s llama pen between the 13 green and 14 tee.
Be sure to pay tribute to American golf history at the Tufts Archives in the Village of Pinehurst. The one-story Colonial Revival cottage preserves the history of Pinehurst from 1895 and chronicles the growth of golf in America and the development of the resort business. It houses many of Donald Ross’ golf course designs, sketches, and layouts.
All the courses welcome your non-golfing partner to join you on the round if desired, but there’s plenty to keep them occupied, especially if they like to walk around. Garden lovers will find a small Eden at the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens in Pinehurst. With 32 acres to explore, begin your visit with an orientation in the G. Victor and Margaret Ball Garden Visitors Center open from 8 am until 5 pm daily. A fine way to learn about the history of Pinehurst and sample some of its flavors is on a half-day culinary tour with Cathy and John Spangler of Culinary Tours of the Pines. Or if you prefer to wander on your own, just explore the village hand in hand. Over at the Given Outpost, the former post office has found a new life as a coffee shop and book store. It is so beloved of folks here that they even host weddings.
Most folks are passionate about their towns, and you’ll find that in many of the small businesses. In the Village, drop by Old Sport & Gallery, an art gallery/bookshop/memorabilia museum combined into one. This revered spot was begun by Tom Stewart, a lifetime PGA member, based on his personal collection of golf art and memorabilia collected while playing golf on tour around the world.
Over in Southern Pines, you’ll want to meet other business owners whose love for their work and country is infectious. When local builder Heath Trigg was working on the construction of the bar at Southern Pines Brewery, he was thinking about the brewery’s veteran owners. His epiphany came when he decided to make them a version of Old Glory out of the wood from the whiskey barrels for their bar. Soon, everyone who saw the wooden flag had to have one, and his business, Heritage Flag Company, was born. The flags come in all sizes—small enough to stash in your suitcase, or large enough to hang over your fireplace. The people who worked for him in construction happily followed him into the flag-making business. Not all flags come from whiskey barrels; they also have pine flags crafted from fallen trees off the Pinehurst Resort. Those standards pay tribute to country and golf.
Another Southern Pines original is R. Riveter. Co-founder Cameron Cruze started out in architecture but turned instead to crafting stylist handbags out of leather and canvas. Named for Rosie the Riveter, she believes the World War II icon stands for women working to make the world a better place. So Cruze hires military families—modern day riveters—to craft each part and piece of the satchels and backpacks wherever in the world that they are stationed. They ship those parts to Southern Pines, where they are assembled.
Lovebirds who enjoy dining together will enjoy the variety of offerings. Breakfasts can be straightforward eggs, bacon, and such at the Villager Deli, or homemade quiches, omlettes or a variety of European style pastries at The Bakehouse in Aberdeen. You may also want to turn up the heat by checking out the smoked flavors of Carolina style barbecue. For lunch, make the pilgrimage to Carthage to the Pik N Pig, a ‘cue joint that adjoins a landing strip. At night, the Pinehurst Brewery blends small-batch brews with smoked meats. Over at Pinehurst Resort, The Deuce dishes up great meals with a view to No. 2’s 18th green and the Payne Stewart statue. There’s no place like it anywhere else in the world.
Save your romantic meal for Ashten’s in Southern Pines. This chef-driven eatery sources almost all their food in the neighboring communities. Or, opt for Theo’s Taverna, a local Greek spot that offers outdoor seating and even crushes their own olive oil. If you prefer a more pub-like setting, visit The Drum & Quill, named for owners, Kevin Drum and his late father, Bob “the Drummer” Drum, a golf writer and journalist who documented Arnold Palmer’s career.
Cap off your evening with a toddy at the Pine Crest, a 1913 historic inn that has hosted Bobby Jones, Annie Oakley, and pros such as Palmer, Nicklaus, Crenshaw, Strange, and Stewart. You can pick up one of the wedges in the bar and practice your chip shots into the fireplace. It’s the kind of experience that you can only have in Pinehurst, a place where it’s easy to fall in love all over again.