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The Prince of Pinehurst
Alan Shipnuck
June 14, 1999
If Robert Dedman, the richest man in golf, did so much to bring the Open to town, why are people sniping at him?
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June 14, 1999

The Prince Of Pinehurst

If Robert Dedman, the richest man in golf, did so much to bring the Open to town, why are people sniping at him?

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There has been little joy for either side on the trademark infringement case. Indicative of the nastiness is a letter sent from Trattner & Associates to Donna Nolan, the owner of Pinehurst Interiors, a design company based in Southern Pines. "Your company's financial exposure...is significant...." reads the letter, a copy of which was obtained by SI. "Resorts could obtain treble damages or treble any profits that your company has earned from the sale of goods and services bearing the infringing marks." Pinehurst Interiors is now Village Design Group, though Nolan has not been silenced. When the Pinehurst Business Guild, after discussions with ClubCorp executives, changed its name to the Village of Pinehurst Business Guild, Nolan said, "I'd like to kick them in the petunias."

Recently the five-member village council held an informational meeting, and the business owners in attendance made it clear that they expect the village to go to the mat for them on this one. That may not be necessary, as the plot has thickened in recent days. A golf shop in Southern Pines, Match Play of Pinehurst, claims to have received a federal trademark on its name back in the 1970s, which would torpedo ClubCorp's claims to exclusivity. This is a debate sure to be carried out throughout the week of the Open. "It's so sad it's funny," says Glynn. "They've spent 15 years trying to get the U.S. Open to Pinehurst, and now that it's here they've turned the whole town into a Gilbert and Sullivan production."

Despite all the bad press raining down on him, it's hard to feel sorry for Dedman. Though he still haunts the office to consult on major decisions, he has eased nicely into retired life, playing golf or tennis nearly every day. (He learned the former game from Byron Nelson and Ralph Guldahl, both of whom retired to positions at ClubCorp courses. Dedman, who shot his age when he was 65 and is a former Dallas city champion, also got some instruction from Ben Hogan, for whom he occasionally served as a consultant.) Dedman still has friends in high places—he lives two doors down from Ross Perot in the Preston Hollow section of Dallas and counts nearly every prominent Texan as a golfing buddy, including former President Bush, who while in office had the Dedmans up to Camp David for a visit. He is revered as a philanthropist and says he has given more than $100 million to charity. Dedman even has a major medical center and the liberal arts college at SMU named after him.

How odd, then, that around Pinehurst—a sleepy little burg that once upon a time was called Tufftown—his name is so often taken in vain.

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