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The Southern Resort of a Proper Bostonian
Gwilym S. Brown
September 10, 1962
James Walker Tufts—of the Massachusetts Tuftses—built a New England village on 5,000 acres of Carolina desert and opened it as a health spa, never guessing that his Pinehurst would turn out to be a mecca for golfers
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September 10, 1962

The Southern Resort Of A Proper Bostonian

James Walker Tufts—of the Massachusetts Tuftses—built a New England village on 5,000 acres of Carolina desert and opened it as a health spa, never guessing that his Pinehurst would turn out to be a mecca for golfers

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One of the town's most important businessmen is a bit more explicit. "The Knoll-wood operation went bankrupt and took Pinehurst down with it," explains Livingston Ludlow Biddle II, a Philadelphian who owns part of Village Court, a group of quaint brick colonial store and office buildings on the town's main street. Biddle also handles the sale of much of Pinehurst's tightly restricted real estate.

"The First National Bank of Boston took the company over for a year or so and sent a man down to run it," he says. "Eventually Hornblower & Weeks took &n the mortgage and carried it until Dick Tufts could buy it back at a reasonable price." Its Depression troubles were the only faltering steps Pinehurst took in its placid, upward march through the years. "As a matter of fact," says Tufts, "we did a great deal of work on the golf course during that time. We built the grass greens and we put in a watering system for the No. 2 course."

"Of any town in the U.S. this one has changed the least," says Biddle, his voice supplying no clue as to whether he is boasting or complaining. "They fight change here. They make a thorough and complete effort to keep things just as they are. They still keep the little horse-drawn carriages, they still keep the 40-year-old bus that makes trips to and from the country club (150,000 round trips, all with the same driver, Talbert Causey, at the wheel). They're fighting the modern house. Every time someone submits plans for one of those flat-roofed houses the corporation has a fit and rejects them. Once they approved plans for one and later decided they couldn't stand it. They made the owner put a gable on top of it."

There is another phase of life in Pine-hurst that has also remained static through the years. This is the corporation's restrictive policy of allowing only white Gentiles to buy property or stay in the hotels. And the corporation screens all prospective new property owners to weed out anyone else it may consider unsuitable, too.

"Occasionally someone who shouldn't slips into one of the hotels," says a local businessman, "but they never get to come back. The hotels down here have a complex system of blue, red, yellow and white cards on everyone who stays here. Their card system would make Hitler look like an amateur." He declined to explain what all the colors meant.

This policy, so astonishingly out of place in Pinehurst's relaxed and friendly atmosphere, has not kept the village from having its share of distinguished visitors. John D. Rockefeller Sr. owned a house in Pinehurst, as did General George C. Marshall. Former Secretary of State Cordell Hull used to stay at The Carolina, where he ran his life by the clock. Every morning at 9:30 he would leave the hotel for a half-mile walk to the country club, spend exactly 30 minutes on the putting green and then walk back to the hotel. This was the extent of Mr. Hull's golf game.

A more typical Pinehurst attitude is that of a present resident, a Philadelphia investment counselor named Arthur F. Spellissy. He owns a large house overlooking the 10th fairway of the No. 2 course. He was in the habit of going straight from his home to the 2nd tee of the course and playing the next eight holes. This brought him back to within 200 yards of his house. But the 200 yards vexed him, as did the fact that he could play only eight holes instead of that nice round golfing number, nine. Visitors to Pinehurst can now see the solution to the Spellissy dilemma. It is his very own beautifully kept par-3 hole of 185 yards—built and maintained by Spellissy himself—which brings him right back to his front door.

There are, if you insist on looking for them, things to do in Pinehurst other than play golf. Most of the hotels hold card and bingo nights, there are two good restaurants in town, and from February to April the Pinehurst Playhouse presents a selection of touring stage plays. Taverns are against the law in North Carolina, but the nearby Dunes Club (which opens in mid-October) has maneuvered around the law by becoming a very large private club indeed. You can join. It has a bar, dining room and floor show. Nor is the nearest roulette table in Nevada. Southern Pines has a motion picture theater and, if pressed, Pinehurst will admit to having riding, hunting, fishing and tennis facilities. But what it has above all, even above its golf, is its sense of peace and air of easy lassitude.

"Pinehurst's greatest attribute," wrote a famous resident, John P. Marquand, "is its friendliness and calm. Even on the most crowded days of the spring season, when individuals are struggling feverishly for starting times on the golf courses and when the hotels have run out of reservations, peace never wholly leaves Pinehurst. It never loses the spiritual lack of haste or the impression of leisure and repose and hospitality that its founder designed for it."

That's what it will offer when the country's best amateurs come there to decide a championship between September 17 and 22. They will like Pinehurst hospitality and Pinehurst No. 2. But they better not expect a gallery. Everybody else in town will be out playing Pinehurst's other courses.

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