The trophies on display included stately silver cups and stylish crystal. Underneath, the names of those responsible for the trophies being there were printed neatly on the official scoresheets from the respective events, a calligraphy of detail that only scratched the surface of the triumphant narratives.
A glance past the gleaming trophies went outside a large floor-to-ceiling window. Nearing sunset, the clubhouse’s columns cast their shadows on the 18th green of famed Pinehurst No. 2, home to more single golf championships than any site in America.
Inside, the gathering was teeming with the champions and fellow members. They spoke of putts made and sudden death playoffs won, clinking domestic beer bottles with wine glasses to toast their friends’ triumphs. The word “trifecta” was bandied about the room.
Weeks before, many of them were considered underdogs. After this evening, though, they know other clubs will never see it that way again.
And that’s OK. For now, Pinehurst Country Club can celebrate sweeping the Carolinas Golf Association’s Interclub Championships. They will enjoy it while it lasts.
Four years ago, Pinehurst Country Club wasn’t even competing in CGA interclub events. Dave Hampton, a Pinehurst member who frequently officiates myriad amateur golf events, couldn’t fathom why his club wasn’t competing against other clubs in North and South Carolina.
“As a member, we’re all really proud of Pinehurst Country Club, proud to be members, proud of what this club is, and we all feel like it’s one of the very best clubs in America,” Hampton says. “We take a lot of pride in representing Pinehurst and want it to do well.”
With help from other members, Hampton got Pinehurst in play. Within a couple of years, Pinehurst Country Club reached the Final Four in the CGA’s Interclub open division, and last year, the Pinehurst Scramblers won the CGA’s Senior division.
But 2017 marked the club’s true rise in interclub play. Pinehurst Country Club won the Regular, or Open, division, Pinehurst No. 9’s team won the Senior title, and in its inaugural year, Pinehurst Country Club won the Women’s Club Team Championship.
“We’re all pretty proud,” says Kendra Muir, the captain of the women’s team. “And the fact that it’s the trifecta really adds to the sense of accomplishment.”
None of it was easy.
Pinehurst’s women’s team was without perhaps its best player, Patty Moore, who’s won several CGA events and Senior Women’s North & South Amateur championships. (Moore was playing the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.) In the final match, Pinehurst clipped powerhouse Cowen’s Country Club, of Lake Norman, which boasted three players with handicap indexes of 4 and lower. They did it with a par on the first hole of sudden death.
“We didn’t really know what we were up against,” Muir says. “But all of the Charlotte-area players said, ‘You did it. You took down Cowen’s Ford.’”
While Pinehurst No. 9’s Senior team cruised to a staggering 22-2 victory in the championship match, it found itself on the verge of elimination in the semifinal of the East Region. In the format, the team was split in its match against Chapel Ridge Golf Club. Remarkably, No. 9 lost 12-0 at Chapel Ridge, but won 12-0 in the half of the match being contested at No. 9.
“When I heard we were blanked at Chapel Ridge, I thought, ‘Well, this is over,’” recalls No. 9 captain Ross McDonald. “But it wasn’t.”
In fact, it was No. 9’s oldest player, 81-year-old Jim Cole – “Jim likes to tell people he’s actually 81-and-a-half,” McDonald says – who pulled No. 9 through with a birdie in the playoff, keeping No. 9 alive and sending it to the Interclub Final Four. (Pinehurst Country Club’s Men’s Golf Association reached the Final Four as well, falling 13-11 in the West Region Finals.)
That left Pinehurst Country Club’s regular interclub team, which had come so close to winning two years before. Pinehurst lost in the first round after pod play last year, but roared back in 2017, defeating Pine Island Country Club 22-14 to bring the trifecta – and the ensuing party – together.
“We love Pinehurst, and we love our club,” says Hampton. “We’re really happy for everyone who played on any of the Pinehurst Country Club teams. It’s been a great year.”