USGA to bring second headquarters, multiple U.S. Opens to Pinehurst

Golf House Pinehurst will include a museum/visitor center and research-and-test facility to be completed by 2023.
A statue of "Putter Boy" outside the Pinehurst clubhouse prior to the 2014 U.S. Open.

Two of golf's most recognizable and historic brands - the United States Golf Association and Pinehurst Resort - have collaborated to significantly alter the future of the North Carolina Sandhills.

The implications will reverberate well beyond the borders of the Tar Heel State as well.

The USGA, a 501c3 non-profit with its "Golf House" headquarters based in Liberty Corner, N.J., announced Sept. 9 that it will invest $25 million to create "Golf House Pinehurst" as a secondary headquarters and will host five U.S. Opens on Pinehurst No. 2 by 2047, creating the very first "anchor site" for the major championship. The two new buildings of "Golf House Pinehurst" will include a new equipment-testing facility, innovation hub, museum/visitor center and offices built on donated resort grounds by 2023.

USGA CEO Mike Davis said Pinehurst's proximity to North Carolina's famed "research triangle" of universities and its history played a major role in the decision.

"It is pretty amazing," Davis said at the introductory press conference. "If you take those five U.S. Opens and those things that we are mentioning here, over that period of time, it is estimated to be over a two billion dollar impact to the area. That’s not even noting the international and domestic exposure that some of these big championships give. We think it’s ground-breaking, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

The Pinehurst Impact

Government tax incentives reported to be upwards of $43 million helped usher in the deal. Representatives from the state, county, village and resort levels all spoke at Wednesday's press conference, extolling the virtues of the agreement that started as a conversation between Davis and Pinehurst Resort owner Bob Dedman Jr. roughly five years ago. Serious talks lasted about a year.

North Carolina State Senator Tom McInnis noted that, with the government hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, private donors and philanthropists stepped up to help finalize the terms. Davis said the USGA has committed to employ 50 full-time employees within the state and host U.S. Opens in 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047. The USGA will also bring its other premier championships to the state at an "increased rate," including, but not limited to, the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Junior and U.S. Girls’ Junior. The Pine Needles Resort & Club in nearby Southern Pines is already scheduled to host its record fourth U.S. Women's Open in 2022.

The news - coinciding with Pinehurst's 125th anniversary this year - continues the resort's incredible run of growth and investment in recent years. Since No. 2 was restored by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw in 2011, Pinehurst has built The Cradle, one of golf's top new short courses; purchased Pinehurst No. 9; hired Gil Hanse to completely redesign No. 4; constructed the Pinehurst Brewing Co. in the village and completely modernized both the main clubhouse and Manor Inn with new bars/restaurants, common areas and more.

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Davis was clear that the USGA will continue to operate its museum in New Jersey, but will share artifacts with Golf House Pinehurst. "We have so many more artifacts than we can showcase (in New Jersey) that we think having a satellite museum here makes so much sense," he added. "There's roughly 1 million golfers a year who come through the Pinehurst area. Why not engage with those golfers more?"

The Major Championship Impact

This isn't the first time that the USGA, founded in 1894, and Pinehurst, founded a year later in 1895, partnered for a new idea regarding major championships. Pinehurst hosted back-to-back men's and women's U.S. Opens in 2014. This unprecedented run of upcoming majors essentially gives Pinehurst a U.S. Open every 5-6 years, which is a much more compact window than normal. Only the Old Course at St. Andrews could be used as much or more in this time frame.

When asked about future anchor sites, Davis said Pinehurst likely won't be the only one but declined to elaborate. Having an anchor site allows the USGA to build key infrastructure that will make the event better for both players and fans. That's not the best news for courses like Chambers Bay, Erin Hills and Los Angeles Country Club hoping to land their second U.S. Opens. LACC's North course, revamped by Hanse, hosts its first Open in 2023.

"Key people in our championship department have been talking about for a handful of years how there's an advantage when we take a U.S. Open to a golf course that's recognized by the players, the familiarity, and also where you can invest in some of the infrastructure," he said. "The idea here became, if we came to Pinehurst more often, there could be some investment. So often when we hold U.S. Opens, the player will see that venue one time, and then they are off the Tour by the time it comes back again. The idea is, go to some of the most treasured sites, hopefully more often, (and) invest in those sites. The byproduct is it allows the fans watching to be more familiar with those courses."

Iconic, popular venues like Pebble Beach Golf Links need not fret about being left off of the USGA's short list of U.S. Open candidates, but other hopefuls probably just had their dreams dashed.

Are you interested in seeing more U.S. Opens at Pinehurst and other USGA events in North Carolina? Let us know in the comments below.

Golf Advisor Round Trip: Pinehurst

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Golf Advisor Round Trip: Pinehurst

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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How interesting to read this. As a Scot living in Canada I am proud of the contribution of Donald Ross to the Pinehurst area. I think most Americans are well aware of the contribution of Scotland and Scottish emigrees to golf in the US. I have been visiting the Sandhills for 18 years, twice a year for 4 to 5 weeks at a time. I have only played #8L on invitation as the cost of playing the better courses is beyond my budget.
However I loved to play in the Sandhills area but to my dismay some of my courses were closed - for various reasons. The Pit was a fave of mine ( I heard that Pinehurst Resort bought it and closed it down) as was The Carolina, a fun Palmer risk, reward design, the two, courses at Woodlake ( Palmer and Maples ) and the tough Little River. All gone, - and there may be more. So while Pinehurst Resort courses continue to thrive, it may be at the expense of the. broader Sandhills area.

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Golf is played in 50 states. Extremely disappointed with this decision.

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Growing up in the Triangle gave me many opportunities to visit and enjoy the historical (including the Colgate Hall Of Fame Classic) value of Pinehurst. I think it is great to see US Open championships come back to the #2 course. The creation of the new Golf House Pinehurst will ensure the legacy of Pinehurst lives on forever as a destination for our kids, grandkids and future generations to come. AWESOME!

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Your recent story by George Pepper, concluded that Pinehurst the LEAST important of the other five ‘US Open core courses’, and for good reasons. Certainly Pinehurst is not worthy of a recurring six year return of the US Open. Another blemish, in a line of récent horrible decisions, by the USGA and it’s Executive Director. After Chambers Bay, Erin Hills and the second Shinnecock débâcle, I stopped my USGA annual dues. They do not represent my point of view any more. And I LOVE GOLF!

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I hope your comments are in the minority. You must not play golf or appreciate history. Probably a good decision you made to drop your membership to any organizations associated with golf.

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USGA to bring second headquarters, multiple U.S. Opens to Pinehurst