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But pride and a magnificently tough golf course were not enough. Displeased with profits, stockholders started a sellout movement, and when the national economy soured in the late 1960s two of the three Tufts brothers began to press for sale from the inside.
Richard Tufts, the family's business leader, was opposed. He and his son Pete resisted. But the brothers had agreed to be governed by a majority. In late 1970 they accepted an offer from the Diamondhead Corporation, a land development firm, and the golf capital of the world changed hands.
Seismic changes came almost immediately. Surveyors' flags sprouted in every corner of the estate. Ubiquitous white station wagons with Diamondhead customers became unhappy symbols of change. The new owners quickly spent more than $6 million renovating The Carolina Hotel, including washing out all the individuality of the wing-back and wicker chairs in the lobby and making it look like most other modern lobbies.
And if the townspeople were not grousing about what they saw as the Miami and Las Vegas effects of the new hotel decor, they were lamenting the loss of the town park. In my day vehicles like Happy's bus left the hotel and moved down three blocks from it to a road that went around a circular pine grove known as the park. It had a few listless deer in a pen and some swings, but it was basically our forest primeval, dark and dense.
Today you go right through it. The new road was built at the cost of several hundred trees, some of them thought to be of Civil War vintage. To some it was cosmetic surgery, a thinning out and opening of brighter new vistas. Attractive tennis courts were built, making that sport considerably more than the kind of neglected afterthought it had been under the Tuftses. The park now included more facilities, but there were those who had thought the park inviolate, and they mourned the loss of its rough majesty.
The Rev. Roscoe L. Prince, scholarly pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church, was outraged.
"The vandals have come," he said. He would lead a Ralph Nader-style fight against them if he had not had a heart attack recently, he said. I remember my father saying that some in the congregation had thought of getting a new preacher at one time because Mr. Prince was too intellectual, not fiery enough. Now he is near retirement, and it may not be in Pinehurst, the town he served for 32 years; land costs had gone too high after Diamondhead arrived, he said.
Diamondhead paid $9.3 million for the entire town. For that price the firm bought 7,000 acres of largely undeveloped land, three hotels (including one in York Harbor, Maine, which was immediately sold), five 18-hole golf courses, a riding stable, gun club, plumbing shop, town streets—everything, including the governance of between 1,200 and 2,000 residents, depending on the season.
"If you consider the profit we were making," says Richard Tufts' brother James, "then we got a fair price. On the other hand, if you look at the value of the land, they got a whale of a bargain." The Tuftses did look at the land, but the value they saw was not monetary.
"Land sales were the last thing we thought of," he said. "If we had gone out for sales it might have been different."