PINEHURST, N.C. — Pinehurst Resort president Tom Pashley joked back in 2014 that the first-ever back-to-back U.S. Opens would allow the famed clubhouse to add some “color photos to the black and white ones” in its historic hallway.
Well, in less than five years, the cameras have been clicking frame after frame at all that’s new at one of the world’s most iconic resorts.
History is big here, really large. Let’s just say it’s a major selling point for all involved in the day-to-day operations of the resort. But the present and near future aren’t too shabby either.
“It seems like we’ve had project after project after project,” Pashley said. “People who haven’t been here in 3-4 years are going to feel like it’s a new destination for them.”
And the USGA keeps noticing the world-renowned resort, too. The 2019 U.S. Amateur returns next year, while the U.S. Open is set for 2024 on the diabolical greens of the ultra challenging No. 2 course.
“Many places would consider it a highlight to get any one of these and for us to have so many of them coming in a five-year span, well, it’s an embarrassment of riches,” Pashley said.
The resort will even have its own beer the next time. A century-old former steam plant building within walking distance of the Carolina Hotel will serve as the new home of the Pinehurst Brewing Co.
“It’s such a neat building and to see the character of the building come out with the fit and finish and the stainless steel tanks in there -- it just all feels nature, like that building was meant to be a brewery,” Pashley said.
The resort has hired a brew master from Charlotte, and a pit boss will run the brewery’s smoker.
“Producing good beer is not something you can take for granted,” Pashley said. “We know our beer is going to be great because we’ve hired somebody great to brew it. And the smokehouse is cool – there are just a lot of neat things about this place.”
The brewery is among the most significant of recent additions to the resort, which includes its new short course, The Cradle, and a redesign of Pinehurst No. 4 by noted golf architect Gil Hanse.
The new No. 4 course will serve as the co-host for next year's U.S. Amateur.
“It is going to be a great test early on to see how it holds up under championship conditions and the best players in the world having an opportunity to play it,” Pashley said. “It’s a feather in the cap for Pinehurst No. 4; it’s a real neat opportunity.”
The 737-yard Cradle course has logged an impressive 34,000 rounds in the year since it opened.
“What I recall the most about when the U.S. Kids World Championship was here in August was the Cradle was just a hub of activity and it just felt so energetic,” Pashley said. “It was a home run with a lot of photos on social media.
“Just seeing the multiple generations of families playing the short course is cool,” he added. “It’s subtle, but playing from the same tee box adds a lot to the experience. You are all able to stand there and laugh at each other and share the high 5s when a good shot is hit.”
The Dedman Family, the owners of the resort, should get tremendous credit for all of the new twists at the resort.
“They have an appetite for investing in the property and making sure it’s positioned for the next 50 years,” Pashley said. “We’ve been able to have a lot of fun and they are putting a lot of faith in us to execute part of their vision. It’s interesting to think that a 123-year-old iconic golf resort can also be a leader in some innovations that are happening in the industry.”
David Droschak was an award-winning writer with The Associated Press for 20 years. He was honored with the Sports Writer of the Year award in North Carolina in 2003. He lives in Apex, N.C.