Pinehurst News

Chef Shawn Aoki gets inspiration from fresh ingredients


Chef Shawn Aoki prepares meals for guests in the Carolina Dining Room.

Chef Shawn Aoki has a deep appreciation for fresh ingredients thanks to his California upbringing.

“I grew up in sort of a farm setting,” he said. “We butchered our own cattle and we always had a garden.”

Aoki’s job growing up? Tending to the chickens.

His formative years helped prepare Aoki for life in the kitchen.

“My understanding of the farm-to-table concept really sprouted from there,” he said. “When you take care of something and see it on the table at the end of the day, it really gives you a sense of appreciation”

“It gave me an understanding of good ingredients and what they should really taste like.”

Since moving from the West Coast to Pinehurst, Aoki has gotten the chance to continue his agricultural exploration thanks to Executive Chef Thierry Debailleul’s focus on providing resort guests with meals prepared with local ingredients.

 I think there’s a correct cooking process for the right ingredient and I don’t like to alter my flavors too much.


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Kevin Robinson, No. 2 crew honored by Pinehurst

Pinehurst Director of GCM Bob Farren (second from left), is flanked on Pinehurst No. 2 by No. 2 Assistant Superintendent John Jeffreys (far left), No. 2 Assistant Superintendent Alan Owen (second from right) and No. 2 Superintendent Kevin Robinson (far right). (Photo by John Gessner)

Pinehurst Director of GCM Bob Farren (second from left), is flanked on Pinehurst No. 2 by No. 2 Superintendent John Jeffreys (far left), No. 2 Assistant Superintendent Alan Owen (second from right) and Golf Course Maintenance Manager Kevin Robinson (far right). (Photo by John Gessner)

Every year at Pinehurst, we have a “State of the Resort” meeting, bringing together more than 1,000 Pinehurst employee partners to share the highlights of the previous year. Included in the presentations are the annual awards Pinehurst gives to those who went above and beyond over the course of the previous year.

And what a year we had in 2014.

Among the big winners at Tuesday’s meeting should come as no surprise, but it’s worth highlighting their efforts (at least) one more time. And while everyone on the Pinehurst team did something in 2014 to make it a banner year, a few people had a little more pressure on their shoulders than others.

After all, Pinehurst accomplished something in 2014 that’s never been done before in the history in golf.

Back-to-back major championships, on the same course, in consecutive weeks.

The Pinehurst Grounds Crew poses for a photo below the Sunday scoreboard following Martin Kaymer's triumph in the 2014 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2.

The Pinehurst Grounds Crew poses for a photo below the Sunday scoreboard following Martin Kaymer’s triumph in the 2014 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2. (Click to enlarge)

And that is part of the reason why Kevin Robinson, Pinehurst’s golf course maintenance manager, was honored as Pinehurst Resort and Country Club’s Manager of the Year. And it’s also why the Pinehurst No. 2 Maintenance Crew, led by Bob Farren, Robinson, John Jeffreys and Alan Owen, were tabbed as Pinehurst’s Department of the Year. (Pinehurst’s Group Sales team was also honored as Co-Department of the Year.)

And really, if you don’t take our word for the incredible work they did this year, well, just watch:

Not only was Pinehurst hailed following two brilliant weeks of major championship golf, two weeks after Michelle Wie’s clinching putt to capture the U.S. Women’s Open, the No. 2 crew managed and oversaw the change of Donald Ross’s fabled greens from bent grass to bermudagrass. Not only was the project successful and finished a bit ahead of schedule, it will enable No. 2 to play to elite conditions for 12 months of the year.

Congrats to Robinson, to his No. 2 team, and to Bob Farren. They really are the Most Interesting Men in Turf.

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5 can’t miss Pinehurst Easter activities

Easter weekend in Pinehurst gets underway exactly one month from today. 

Start planning your trip by browsing our full list of Easter activities.

We’ve pinpointed a few of our favorites below.

Kids can enjoy special activities during the holidays.

1. Easter Egg hunts

Kick off Easter weekend with a unique twist on a classic pastime – a flashlight Easter egg hunt.

We’ll provide the Easter bags and flashlights, all you need to do is bring your children down to the Grand Ballroom by 5 p.m. Friday, April 3.

The fun continues Easter Sunday with two egg hunts on the West Lawn – one for children ages 5 and younger, another for children ages 6 to 12. Both egg hunts will get underway at 10 a.m.

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Explore Highland beer during first Brewmaster Dinner


“There are good memories around beer. Craft beer, to me, makes better memories.” 
– Chuck Whitehead, vice president of business development for Highland Brewing Company

Our first Brewmaster Dinner is sure to be a memorable event.

Attendees will enjoy four Highland beers paired with a menu crafted by Pinehurst Chef de Cuisine Shawn Aoki.

The four-course meal gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25 in the Crystal Room.

During the event, a representative from Highland, the state’s oldest craft brewery, will be on hand to talk about each beer.

“We’ll explain how it’s made, what’s in it and the taste profile,” Whitehead said. “You’ll learn a little bit about the brewing process and the history of some of the different styles of beer.”

During the dinner, participants also will learn about how to properly pair beer with food.

“It’s similar to wine in that you wouldn’t necessarily want a big, heavy beer with big, heavy food,” Whitehead said. “Beer is every bit as complex as wine; that’s what a lot of people don’t understand,” he said.

Here’s a look at the beers attendees will drink during the dinner:

Gaelic Ale  Whitehead called the Gaelic Ale one of Highland’s most balanced beers. “It’s an amber ale with a little bit of a twist, which is making it a little Scottish in style. It has a delicate hop flavor with a real rich malty, body, which is kind of unusual. There’s a slight touch of caramel sweetness.”

St. Terese’s Pale Ale  Whitehead said this beer gets its delicate aroma from the process of dry hopping. Golden pale in color, it has a slightly malty body balanced by an assertive American hop flavor.

Black Mocha Stout  Whitehead said this robust beer has “rich toasted chocolate flavors.” It’s black in color with a very malty body.

Kashmir English-style IPA  A full-bodied India Pale Ale, this beer is golden in color with a moderate malty character. The full hop flavor is true to the classic ale that has traveled on sailing ships from England to India.

Cost is $50 plus tax and gratuity. Purchase tickets online at




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Ben Crenshaw ready to say goodbye to Augusta


In April, Ben Crenshaw will play in his final Masters. The two-time champion reflects on a storied relationship


Ben Crenshaw was low amateur in the 1972 and ’73 Masters Tournaments, finishing 19th and 24th, respectively. He played in the annual rite of spring at Augusta National the next 43 years, winning in 1984 and 1995 and notching nine more top 10 finishes. He’s made the cut only two of the last 17 years, though, as the golf course has been consistently stretched out to match the power of today’s athletic swings and the heat generated by modern club technology.

Augusta played 6,905 yards when Crenshaw won in 1984. It played 7,435 yards in 2014, and Crenshaw’s rounds of 83-85 prompted him to say, “Enough.”

The 2015 Masters will be his last. … Continue Reading

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