Pinehurst Heritage Archive

Excerpt from “Slaying the Tiger” – The 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Shane Ryan’s new book, “Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes of the New PGA Tour.”  Ryan dives into the 2014 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2, the USGA, some of the – ahem – more interesting thoughts on Coore and Crenshaw’s 2010 restoration of Donald Ross’s masterpiece. You can purchase the book here.

“Charlie Price, the great writer, he’d say Pinehurst in his day was fairways, and the fairways were oases within sandy country. The wispy rye grass, pine needles and sand, the little tufts of ground, that’s what Pinehurst was.” —Ben  Crenshaw,  to, on the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2


In the nine years preceding the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, the winning score was even par or worse six times. Two of the three winners who actually went under par—Tiger Woods in 2008 and Lucas Glover the next year—stayed nice and close, at -1 and -4, respectively. The only exception came in 2011, when Rory McIlroy put on a historic show at Congressional Country Club, decimating a difficult track to the tune of -16 and asserting himself as one of the world’s best players.

The first winner in that difficult stretch was Michael Campbell, who won at the Pinehurst Resort in the Sandhills of North Carolina with even par in 2005. Campbell has largely been forgotten—he’s a member of golf’s one-hit wonder club, and you can barely find a mention of him at the club—but the previous Pinehurst champion in 1999, Payne Stewart, has become an important part of the resort’s identity. Less than six months after he won the event, he died in a plane crash, and he’s honored today with a large statue outside the clubhouse that captures the moment when he sunk the winning putt on 18 to beat Phil Mickelson—clad in his famous knickers and tam-o’-shanter cap, right foot off the ground, fist extended in triumph. … Continue Reading

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A year after history, Pinehurst No. 2 remains a standard in championship golf

After back-to-back U.S. Opens, Pinehurst No. 2 continues as not just a marker of the past, but with an eye toward the future in golf


This week the eyes and ears of the golf world have moved from the Sandhills of North Carolina in June 2014 to the Pacific Northwest. Instead of the whiff of pine in the nostrils of golfers competing in the U.S. Open, today the hint of saltwater from Puget Sound emanates over the golf course at Chambers Bay.

One year later, though, the vestiges of the historic back-to-back U.S. Open and Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2 are alive.

The idea of firm-and-fast playing conditions with a tinge of brown has been established in the minds of golfers, course owners and superintendents nationwide.

The concept of easing back on course setup for the Women’s Open has been seeded after the USGA parsed a wealth of statistics from the performances of the men and women at Pinehurst in 2014.

JUNE: U.S. Open (USGA)

Sunday at the 18th hole of Pinehurst No. 2 during the 2014 U.S. Open. (Photo by the USGA)

And now members and guests at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club enjoy playing No. 2 on a pristine set of new Champion Ultra-Dwarf Bermuda greens that were installed immediately following the Women’s Open last summer and have grown in over nearly a year to top-shelf conditions. The greens roll smoothly at 9.5-to-11 on the Stimpmeter and their tendency to play bouncier and prompt pitch-and-run shots to release further than similar shots on the old bent greens adds challenge to the experience—as if it needed any more. … Continue Reading

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John Derr – An Extraordinary Life


John Derr was sitting in the west wing of The Carolina Hotel lobby one afternoon in December 2009 doing what he did best — telling stories. What Ben Hogan was with a 5-iron and putter, Derr was with a narrative and punch line.

“He loved entertaining people,” longtime friend Tom Stewart once observed. “He was maybe the best storyteller I’ve ever known. I never heard him repeat himself. He always had something new to give.”

From his beginnings as a teenage sports, police and obituary  reporter at the Gastonia Gazette to 62 years covering the Masters Tournament — many of them from the CBS radio and television tower above the 15th green — Derr had seen everything and met everyone. Or so it seemed.

And as he recounted having walked Pinehurst No. 2 with architect Donald Ross back in the 1930s and of having covered Hogan’s milestone win in the 1940 North and South Open at Pinehurst, it occurred to me there was surely not another soul on the planet as the 21st century was nearly a decade old whose reach into golf history hit those particular high notes.

John Derr at home in his element - from a TV tower broadcasting golf for CBS.

John Derr at home in his element – from a TV tower broadcasting golf for CBS.

His after-dinner talks included anecdotes ranging from golfers including Bob Jones and Sam Snead … to broadcasting luminaries like Red Barber and Edward R. Murrow … to film stars like Grace Kelly … to royalty such as the Duke of Windsor … to scientists like Albert Einstein. Mostly what people enjoyed hearing were his experiences at Augusta.

“I was fortunate to be there, seeing the action, and it was my pleasure to try to let others share my joy through my description,” Derr said. “I was heard by many, but I always tried to put myself in the position of being a reporter for a ‘shut-in’ who could not be there in person. I was telling him or her what was happening — speaking to that one person.”

Sadly one of the icons of the golf broadcasting and journalism worlds passed away Saturday evening. Derr was 97 when he died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Pinehurst. … Continue Reading

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Pinehurst’s equestrian past


A rider takes part in a gymkhana at the Carolina Hotel. Gymkhana is the term used to describe a number of contests involving stunts.

As American Pharoah prepares to compete for the coveted Triple Crown, we thought it would be fun to look back at Pinehurst’s equestrian history.

Some may be surprised to learn a show ring used to be set up outside the Carolina Hotel. It provided a place for skilled horsemen to show off their stunts.

According to Audrey Moriarty’s book “Pinehurst: Golf, History and the Good Life,” Pinehurst founder James Walker Tufts began to promote others sports and leisure activities after golf started to take off.

“A racetrack was built, and harness racing, flat racing and horse training grew until the best horses in the sport were coming to Pinehurst to train,” writes Moriarty, the executive director of the the Tufts Archives.

The Pinehurst Harness Track opened in 1915 and Tufts’ son, Leonard,  helped form the Pinehurst Jockey Club. Polo came to Pinehurst during the 1920s when the Tufts became interested in the sport.

“As the sport became more popular, polo clubs throughout the south came to Pinehurst to play matches,” Moriarty writes.

Equestrian activity continues to thrive in Pinehurst.

During the spring, the Pinehurst Harness Track hosts dressage shows, polo matches and more. Winter Standardbred training is held at the track October through April.

Don’t forget to watch the Belmont Stakes Saturday on NBC to see if American Pharoah will be the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978.


Guests gather outside the Carolina Hotel to watch a gymkhana.


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Ross’ moonlight golf contest

MidnightPuttingPB 4-24

If you’ve never heard the story of Donald Ross’ moonlight golf contest against fellow professional Jack Jolly, we suggest you keep reading. 

Described by the Pinehurst Outlook as the “most novel and unique exhibition of its character that has ever taken place either in this country or abroad, during the long and brilliant history of the ancient Scottish game,” it got underway at 8 p.m. Jan. 9, 1906.

More than 200 spectators gathered for the match, which was suggested because of  the “rare quality of the moonlight here which the white, sandy soil makes doubly brilliant.”

Ross won the contest and it was concluded “moonlight golf is not only feasible, but in many ways, practical.”

“The novelty and interest, the strangeness and fascination, and the beauty of the night, made the occasion one of rare enjoyment which has led to a general expression of the hope that events of a like character may not be of uncommon occurrence in future,” the Outlook wrote.

Take a few minutes to read the entire story. Click the photos to enlarge for a better reading experience.



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