In 1895 Boston businessman James Walker Tufts purchased 5,000 acres of sandy East Carolina wasteland for $1 acre. Attracted by the moderate climate, well drained soil and fresh pine trees, he thought the area offered natural health benefits and wanted to create a winter resort for New Englanders.
The Holly Inn was opened by the Christmas season and featured electric lights, steam heat and telephones. Tufts contracted with Frederick Law Olmsted, America's foremost landscape architect whose credits also include Central Park, the U.S. Capitol grounds, and Biltmore House, to lay out a town. The village he constructed around an oval green with winding roads remains essentially unchanged in concept today.
Golf soon became a part of Pinehurst as the 1897 season brought reports of guests hitting little white balls in the cow pasture. The game was in its infancy in America, but Tufts siezed the opportunity and had Dr. D. LeRoy Culver of New York lay out nine holes in 1898. Nine more holes were added the next year, and soon the course was attracting notice.
The most significant move of the early days came in 1900 when Tufts convinced Donald Ross of Dornoch, Scotland to take over care and construction of the course. Ross stayed at Pinehurst until 1948 and in that time came to be recognized as one of the founding fathers of American golf. Not only did he design many of the now famous Pinehurst courses, but nearly 400 others nationwide.
The resort prospered, offering among other features riding, hunting, shooting, polo, lawn bowling, bicycling and archery. In 1901 the Pinehurst Hotel (then the Carolina Hotel) opened with the latest in comforts. The facility is still highly regarded and rated, besides being the largest wooden hotel in North Carolina.
Of course the name Pinehurst is most closely associated with golf, and rightly so. The area boasts more that 30 courses, including the world renowned #2. The resort has always been able to attract the biggest names in the sport and continues to do so by hosting the 1999 U.S. Open.
Although still mostly thought of as a resort, Pinehurst and the surrounding area has been gathering a larger number of year-round residents in the last few years, lured no doubt by the climate and peacefullness that attracted Mr. Tufts over 100 years ago.