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A History of Southern Pines Golf Club

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Chris Buie

September 2013

The club property has served the community as a park as well as a playground for followers of the old Scotch game, and as such has many fascinations. Glimpses through the close set trees to sunlit pools and shadow-dappled fairways, vistas through the tall pines to the far off hills crowned in blue haze and shadows; distant views over the expanse of greensward and tree-lined valleys to the bulk of Paint Hill and the blue ridge far beyond Aberdeen, and to the dark crest of Mount Hope and the clustered homes of Pinedene afford a restive diversion for all lovers of the out-of-doors. – Pilot Newspaper on SPGC – 1935

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At the turn of the previous century Southern Pines had yet to become a winter haven for refugees from the frozen North. As is well known, that was not the case next door in Pinehurst. A winter haven is exactly what it was becoming by leaps and bounds. The visitors made the southward journey on the rails of the Seaboard Air Line Railway with one last stop before reaching their final destination in Pinehurst.

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The people of Southern Pines would welcome the wealthy travelers for just a few minutes before they rolled out of town just about as quickly as they rolled in. This went on for a few years with the citizens and businessmen of Southern Pines becoming increasingly put out by their lack of benefit from the influx. At the time Southern Pines was more than a little down at the heel. There were a few spots here and there which conducted trade in a modest manner but all in all there was a worrisome shortage of economic vitality. Businesses associated with the lumber trade had more or less sustained the area for decades. Now with the vast forest whittled down to just about nothing the diminished job prospects left many quite concerned about the future.

The main boulevard of the sleepy town.

The main boulevard of the sleepy town.

Pinehurst founder James Tufts (who passed away in 1902) and his equally formidable son Leonard were perceived as somewhat otherworldly figures by the citizens of Southern Pines. The alluring world they had forged upon the unwanted land of stumps and dust was beyond what most could imagine – much less realize.

The Carolina - elegance transposed to the middle of the desolate wasteland which was Pinehurst. Courtesy of the Tufts Archives

The Carolina – elegance transposed to the middle of the desolate wasteland which was Pinehurst. Courtesy of the Tufts Archives

It didn’t take long for the awe in which they held the neighboring proprietors to turn to plans which would capitalize on their proximity to such luxury. The matter was given a great deal of consideration by the town leaders with the question being, of course, exactly how to help alleviate those travelers from the burden of having to deal with their monetary surplus. As it became clear that it was the ‘old Scotch game’ which was, by far, the main draw for the village seven miles away the path to improved prosperity was evident.

And thus the stage was set for the creation of their own golf club – and their own distinguished chapter within the larger legend.

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