The concepts of golf instruction and practice were slow to evolve as the game developed a head of steam in America in the early 1900s. Richard Tufts, grandson of Pinehurst founder James W. Tufts, once observed: “I always thought it very strange that Walter Travis persisted in practicing chip shots, putting and even full shots when a vacant fairway was available. Why should he, of all golfers, need to waste time practicing?”
Pinehurst had three golf courses open by 1910 but no dedicated practice facility. Early lessons were conducted in the Scottish style of the teacher accompanying the student onto the golf course. But in the spring and summer of 1913, club pro and course architect Donald Ross allocated the ground covered by the first, second and 18th holes of course No. 1 exclusively for practice and built replacement holes on course No. 1 further southward from the clubhouse. The “Maniac Hill” practice range was the first of its kind in the country and remains a haven for resort guests and members to hone their swings.
Various iterations of what exists today as the Pinehurst Golf Academy have been a constant fixture on the vast practice facility.
Frank Palumbo was one of the first to take the golf instruction baton at Pinehurst while serving as a staff pro for many years in the mid-1900s up through the 1980s. Palumbo created junior golf schools at Pinehurst and was assisted in his teaching efforts at various times by former PGA Tour golfer Johnny Palmer, who lived one county to the west in Stanley County. The Palumbo Cup is an annual match-play tournament played among the staff golf pros at Pinehurst.