A History of Southern Pines Golf Club

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Following in the footsteps of Pinehurst golf began in Southern Pines with the establishment of Southern Pines Golf Club by the civic leaders.

Well, actually that was not the case. History has always been an elusive item to wrestle with. Even the most conscientious researcher can miss key facts tucked away in the back of some obscure book. And who’s to say the book got it exactly right in the first place? Such are the hazards of attempting to discern the winding paths of antiquity.

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As it turns out, Southern Pines wasn’t quite as sleepy as portrayed.

There was a golf course in Southern Pines which opened in January 1896.

Golf began in Southern Pines more than a year before it started in Pinehurst.

It was also a decade before the beginning of the Southern Pines Golf Club.

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Unsurprisingly, the storied hotel was primarily the winter home for Northern visitors of means. Here’s a vignette which will give the reader some sense of the place.

Royal welcome to the Governor. Southern Pines crowds the Piney Woods Inn to honor the chief magistrate. Governor Aycock in his happiest frame of mind captured his exotic constituency long before he arose to speak. The ladies vied with each other in the matter of elegant dressing. The brilliant lights, the floral decorations and the handsome toilettes of the women gave an air of luxury and gayety not often seen so far away from large centers of population. It was an enthusiastic assemblage. Aycock said he came to capture the Yankees and found they had captured him. – The Pilot Newspaper

The hotel occupied the high point of the town. This vantage point on the hill – especially from the turrets – offered a panoramic view of the surrounding area. Here is a ground level photo which captures a small section of the 360 degree view.

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The wooden structure burned to the ground in 1913. A few years later the owners graciously donated the 7 1/2 acre tract to the town. The only stipulation was that the land be used “in perpetuity” as a park.

“The property is within twelve minutes walk of three quarters of the population. It is a natural bird sanctuary, having dense foliage and spring water, with some twenty varieties of birds. Over the ditch several rustic bridges may be thrown and the banks sown with wild flower seed. At a small expense this might be made a show place as well as a community center for our winter guests”. – The Pilot Newspaper 1929

The donation of the beautiful acreage by the fine members of the Millen family was just the sort of noble gesture which has always given our places of residence their greatest appeal – and provided happy returns beyond counting. Such places of public revitalization – and such admirable philanthropy – are essential to the well being of towns and cities.

Thanks to the efforts of later civic leaders that land is now the province of worn out apartments and crime. Alas, the only matter that carries on “in perpetuity” is that those long gone leaders continue to deal with the chap who wields a pitchfork.

But even before the demise of the first course in the Sandhills, the Southern Pines Golf Club had progressed from an agricultural area to a nine hole affair to a full eighteen holes…and that’s only the first glimmer of yet another intricate area golfing story.

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