Release the Hounds!
For most Americans, Thanksgiving traditions center around eating, visiting with relatives, and maybe watching a little football on TV. In Southern Pines, you can add horses, hounds and neatly-pressed red jackets to the Thanksgiving mix. In a ritual originated by famed author James Boyd in 1913, hunters and foxhounds take to the pine woods each Thanksgiving Day morning to begin fox hunting season (though the foxes are not actually harmed). An Anglican priest gets things started by blessing the hunt.
Olympic Training in the North Carolina Sandhills
World-class golf apparently goes hand-in-hand with Olympic-caliber training for athletes in other sports. As the world gears up for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, prospective Olympians in cycling and equestrian events will head to the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area for training and to qualify for American teams. Key events are the Tour de Moore cycling race in late April (several Olympic teams will be represented) and the Mid-May Dressage in the Sandhills at the Pinehurst Harness Track.
Croquet: More than a lawn game
Think croquet is just something you do for fun in the backyard? Not in Pinehurst. On impeccably manicured croquet lawns adjacent to the Pinehurst Resort golf club house, stern-faced competitors wield mallets with intensity comparable to that displayed by golfers on the historic links nearby. The resort even has a croquet pro on staff to supervise competition and help players improve their game. The annual tournament held at Pinehurst each October is a throwback to Victorian England.
Carthage: The “Detroit” of the horse-drawn carriage
When Henry Ford was perfecting his ideas about mass production of the automobile, he made it a point to travel to Carthage in central North Carolina on a n educational mission. Carthage was home to the Tyson and Jones Carriage Works, one of the world’s largest and most prolific buggy manufacturing plants. By 1925, Ford’s brand of transportation had all but supplanted the buggy business, and Tyson and Jones shut down for good. Each Saturday before Mother’s Day, the Buggy Festival in Carthage brings history and the town’s heyday back to life. Move over, Westminster Kennel Club. The place for truly exciting canine competition is not the show rings of New York City, it’s the brushy fields of the Sandhills Wildlife Area in Hoffman, NC. That’s where field trials held January through March showcase shooting dogs, “lean breeds” and other sporting dogs. The only thing these dogs have in common with the lap dogs that prance in the Big Apple is that they all come from championship bloodlines.
The World’s Oldest Team Sport
If you’re into the historical aspects of sports, there’s a story in central North Carolina that makes golf, baseball or basketball’s roots pale in comparison. For 80 years, Pinehurst has been an East Coast hotbed for a sport that traces its history back further than any other known team sport—polo. Known for 2,500 years as “The Game of Kings,” polo is believed to have started in Asia or the Middle East, spread to India, then to England, and from there to the U.S. The ancient sport lives on at the Pinehurst Harness Track almost every Sunday afternoon from April through June and September through October.
Championship Golf vs. Golf Championships
There isn’t a golf destination in the U.S. worth its salt that doesn’t lay claim to having great championship golf. Invert the two words and you instantly describe the one destination that is truly unique because of its role in hosting major golf championships over the past 100 years – the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, and Aberdeen Area. From the U.S. Amateur Championship (1968, 2007 ) to the U.S. OPEN Championship (1999, 2005, 2014) the U.S.G.A. has found the mild climate, sandy soil, and rich golf history of the North Carolina Sandhills make for the ideal venue for Championship golf. And let’s not forget the home grown golfing event – the North and South Amateur – which is the longest continuously running amateur golf event held in the country with a past champions list that reads like a who’s who of golf. Add the U.S. Women’s OPEN Championship (1996, 2001, 2007, 2014), the Tour Championship (1991,992) and the Ryder Cup Matches (1951) and it’s only surprising that the organizing bodies of golf haven’t pulled up their tents and made this golf Mecca their permanent home base. With results showing the likes of Nicklaus, Sorenstan, Stewart, and Hogan taking home the trophy, it proves once again there is only one Home of American Golf that brings out the very best when golf championships are to be decided.
Scenic Midland Road: The Fifth Avenue of Golf
New York has Fifth Avenue and the Monterey Peninsula has 17 Mile Drive. For the true golf enthusiast there is no better boulevard that represents the history and heritage of golf than Midland Road in the Sandhills of North Carolina. This key artery is the connector between the golf Mecca’s of The Village of Pinehurst (a national historic golf landmark) and the town of Southern Pines. 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 Long Leaf and Loblolly pines provide a soothing canopy over this golf avenue and surrounding golf course and communities. If they could talk they’d share their tales and stories of the past 100 years from the likes of Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Donald Ross (the famous golf architect who live in the area until his death in 1948). As Fifth Avenue’s shops are the jewels of the crown along that route, so are the 15 golf courses you’ll see during your six mile journey down scenic Midland Road. From the world renowned Donald Ross designed Pinehurst No. 2, site of the 1999, 2005 and 2014 U.S. OPEN Championships to the former equestrian race track transformed into the challenging Dan Maples designed Longleaf golf course and residential community there is no shortage of eye candy for the golf connoisseur. Golf clubs and a camera are travel essentials any day you venture down the historic and beautiful Midland Road.
Sandhills Golf Icons
Golf greatness is tied to the places and people of golf. No other golf destination blends great golf courses with great history of golf icons that shaped the game like the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area of North Carolina. Where do we start – how about with the mastermind of American golf architecture Donald Ross? Pinehurst was his home base and Pinehurst No. 2 was one of the masterpieces of the 600 plus courses fashioned by his design firm. Next we include Ben Hogan, who in the 1940’s was contemplating quitting the game of golf until he found his first national victory during the 19th North and South OPEN held in Pinehurst. Looking to meet a legend – how about one of the founders of the current LPGA Peggy Kirk Bell, whose family owns and operates Pine Needles Resort. She still teaches today at her famous “Golfaris” held throughout the year at the resort, which has hosted two U.S. Women’s OPEN Championships and will again host the event in 2007.
The Perfect Blend for Golf
According to Mike Stachura, in the preface to the most recent Golf Digest/Fodors Places to Play directory “the two crucial aspects involved in planning a successful golf trip: When and where.” He then proceeds to tell us that it sounds easy, but it is not. You have to consider the location and ambiance, quality and variety of the courses, the package deal, restaurants, and of course all the preferences of everyone going on the trip. When these are all factored in, there is one destination that raises to the top of most everyone’s list: The Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area. Why? Because it’s a pure golf experience combining exceptional quality and service with a heritage experience not found anywhere else. An extensive Golf Digest study rated the area as the number one destination for quality of golf. It is not neon lights and Farris wheels. It is U.S. OPEN Championships and golf legends like Donald Ross and Peggy Kirk Bell. The Home of American Golf – that says it all.
For these and other story ideas contact Claire Berggren at 800.346.5362 ext. 235 or firstname.lastname@example.org