A History of Southern Pines Golf Club

Page 5


The above article shows that in 1928 yet another 9 holes were in the works – a fifth 9. Several other groups were also planning to build courses at this time. Among the places in the area which projected – but never realized the additional courses were: Montevideo, Southern Pines Hotel (two courses), Pinebluff, Lakeview, Vass, Jackson Springs (which was to be a Ross), a night golf course and Pinehurst itself – which had a total of 6 courses planned at this time.

It was high tide for the golfing world in the late Twenties. Although there was already a virtually unprecedented number of courses in the area there was still far more demand than supply. It was this fact that sent developers into high gear. And thus the number of plans on the drawing board was quite something to see.

The unbuilt hotel was to be adjacent to Pine Needles and feature two courses.

The unbuilt hotel was to be adjacent to Pine Needles and feature two courses.

As we all know these plans came to an abrupt halt with the onset of the catastrophic economic crisis in 1929. SPGC itself came perilously close to closing in the mid Thirties.


The Maples in the above article was Ross’s No. 1 right hand man and was an essential part of the development of the Pinehurst courses. In 1938 he went on to supervise the installation of grass greens at SPGC. Ross himself stayed involved with SPGC until his last decade. In the 1930’s he hand picked the successor (Roy Grinnell) to the long time and much beloved head pro Emmett French.


French was a world class player who at one point finished second to Gene Sarazen in the PGA championship. On another occasion he and Walter Hagen played what was said to be a memorable match at SPGC against (British) Open champion Arthur Havers and French Open champion James Ockenden.


Although many of the best male players found their way to Southern Pines (with Sam Snead setting a course record 63) it was mainly the top women players who squared off on the course. There were all manner of tournaments which were held during the lean years of the Thirties. The most significant was an annual event called the Mid South tournament which ran for a little over a decade.


TurningĀ  back to Donald Ross’s long term involvement with the club this 1941 article shows he was not only as an adviser, but also an investor.


Despite heroic efforts of the part of staff and advocates of the club, it ultimately reached an economic breaking point in 1941. Still…it did not close. Nor has it from the first days until now. This is a tribute to many unheralded individuals who over the course of more than a century have been devoted to preserving this fundamental element of civic life.

During the years of severe economic distress the State of North Carolina stepped in with a mandate to…put a highway through the middle of the course. They clearly were oblivious to the genius of the design and its value to the community. They were also oblivious to the wrath of clubs advocates. If the unforgivable loss of the Piney Woods Park showed the town leaders at their worst then the preservation of the course from the depredations of the State showed them at their best.

In the United States there are innumerable stories of irreplaceable examples of the country at its best which have been ruined. Such myopic endeavors quite simply make the country a worse place to live. For instance, Thomas Jefferson’s exquisite refuge “Poplar Forest” was almost paved over for condos with the all too familiar and all too ill conceived urban sprawl. Fortunately for Poplar Forest and for SPGC there were individuals who were adamant that this sort of foul deed not be visited upon these special areas. If not for the efforts of these community leaders the Pinehurst area would have lost one of its essential gems.