If America has a spiritual home of golf, surely it is Pinehurst? One could probably argue that the National Golf Links of America or Merion or The Country Club could also lay claim to this lofty perch; however, only Pinehurst comes with the complete package. How delightful it is to be walking down the first fairway and hear the church bell ringing? Or to stroll down the winding idyllic streets of the Olmsted Brothers designed village, or stay at any of the historic hotels and inns. For me, a stay at Pinehurst is as close to visiting the true home of golf in St. Andrews as you can get without flying over the ocean.
A new book written by golf course architect Richard Mandell captures Pinehurst in all its glory. The Legendary Evolution of Pinehurst Home of American Golf was published in 2013 by T. Eliot Press. The book is a tome at 412 pages, weighing almost six pounds. A lot of Mandell’s material came from the Tufts Archives, which are located in Pinehurst and contain a vast historical record of Donald Ross’s works.
The evolution of Pinehurst is detailed in the book with old black and white images. Originally conceived as a resort for Northerners travelling south on the railroad, Pinehurst developed into a golfing gem due to the influence of Scottish born Donald Ross, who settled there and spent his lifetime tinkering with the resort’s #2 course.
I have always liked Donald Ross courses, probably because his philosophy of the game is so practical, “Bearing in mind that golf should be a pleasure and not a penance, it has always been my thought to present a test of the player’s game; the severity of the test to be in direct ration with his ability as a player. The Number Two course will be the fairest yet most exacting test of their game, and yet a test from which they will always derive the maximum amount of pleasure. This, to my mind, should be the ideal of all golf courses.”
Especially interesting are early pictures of Pinehurst with its putting surfaces made of sand, as was the custom in this part of the country at the time.
Bobby Jones putting on an early Pinehurst sand green
The book covers the restoration/renovation of the famed #2 course by North Carolina local Bill Coore and his partner Ben Crenshaw. The team relied on historical photos in the Tufts Archives to bring back the flashed-sand bunkering and its haphazard, rather than clean-edged look. As Mandell says in the book, aside from the different look to the sand, “The most important aspect of the restoration is a return of the variety of angles offered to the golfer from hole to hole.”
The book covers a lot more than the #2 course at Pinehurst and has detailed chapters on other local courses such as Pine Needles, Southern Pines, the Country Club of North Carolina, the Dormie Club and more.