“…seeing the mystery traced like a watermark beneath the transparent surface of the familiar world…” – Henri LeFebvre
Unlike virtually all modern resort projects there was a noble dimension to the original Pinehurst concept. Certainly, commerce was a central concern but founder James Tufts was a man of uncommon character. Influenced in no small degree by his friend, Harvard clergyman Edward Everett Hale, Tufts sought to leverage the possibilities of his self made fortune in a manner that would benefit those of moderate income – with an emphasis on consumptives and their families. As their actions showed, Tufts and Hale were not mere gentlemen. They embodied characteristics that eluded lesser minds of the peerage. Well heeled New Englanders had long since found their passage from the brutal climate that hammered the region for months on end. Now through Tuft’s sweeping initiative many others might find their own satisfying measure of respite as well.
Golf was not even a remote consideration in the initial vision of Pinehurst. The original intention was to establish such a place in Florida. The image of that sun drenched peninsula must have loomed large in the minds of even the most stoic New Englanders. However, as with all epics, destiny crept into the story with results that play out even to this day. In our story destiny appeared in the form of various friends of Tufts returning to Boston with stories about an obscure region of the Mid South. One friend in particular had a wife that suffered considerably from the consumptives disease – tuberculosis. Upon her return from a lengthy Southern visit Tufts was more than a bit taken by her glowing health.
Following the nearly miraculous recovery which he witnessed first hand, Tufts made a proper survey of this Southern region for himself. Finding what he perceived to be favorable conditions all around he ultimately purchased a very large tract for his proposed resort. The natives who sold him the land thought they had taken our Bostonian out for a bit of a ride. After all, the area was a wasteland due to the logging and the “boxing” of trees for the extraction of “naval stores”, ie.turpentine, tar and pitch used primarily on ships. They could not see what possible use this chap could have for such a place. But then, they did not have Tufts visionary capabilities.
And so, this industrious man began construction of an entire village.
Well, no sooner had he become irretrievably committed to the mammoth project than he discovered something which negated the entire purpose of the undertaking.
As forward thinking as Tufts and Hale were there was no way they could have foreseen the latest evolutionary turn in medical knowledge. For just as the town was being constructed in 1895 the disease of the consumptive – tuberculosis – was found to be communicable rather than hereditary. Under the hands of lesser mettle the entire affair would have turned into a fading ghost town. Since the matter fell under the purview of James Tufts this American story turned out rather differently.
With the original concept exiting the stage he turned to alternate plans for the town that some termed “Tufts Folly”. Golf was still not under consideration at this point. His latest concept was…peaches.
A great fortune and many man hours went into creating this proposed peach empire. Fortunately, this too went the way of the consumptive concept. The culprit in the latest debacle was a pest known as the “San Jose Scale”. A large infestation of these little beasts put a definitive end to the peach concept.
And so, yet again, Tufts found his grand plans turned to dust. At this point our protagonist was getting on in years – and with rather bleak prospects on the horizon. However, the solution for the unenviable scenario was just around the corner – in the form of an irate farmer.
Confined as he pretty much was at this point to his suite in the Carolina Hotel – the largest wooden structure in the state – Tufts was obliged to field a complaint from the farmer. This unknown man regaled the patrician with a story about how some visitors were disturbing the cows with a curious game…