Work is nearly finished on the new Golf Pride building in Pinehurst, the village’s newest corporate resident. The company, a division of the international conglomerate Eaton Corp., is the sport’s largest manufacturer of golf club grips. Its new Global Innovation Campus, near the entrance to Pinehurst No. 8 off Murdocksville Road, will feature corporate offices, a consumer interactive wing, and a research and development operation.

“We could not be more pleased with the building. It looks fantastic,” said Golf Pride president Jamie Ledford. “Our original concept was a building that on the outside would fit the surroundings of Pinehurst and on the inside would inspire us to create exciting new products.

“It took a great team of people to come together to make it happen. It was a great team and together we created a great new building.”

Golf Pride presented plans for the $8 million project to the Pinehurst Village Council in 2017. The 36,000-square-foot building will house 40 to 50 people, primarily individuals who currently work in the company’s three smaller locations in Southern Pines and Aberdeen. The new facility will put the entire corporate and R&D staff under one roof.

Kuester CRE is developing the building in conjunction with some of its regular local construction crews, including Landmark Builders, a favorite Kuester CRE collaborator.

“We are incredibly proud to be involved with this project, and happy to see the initial vision come to fruition,” says Shaw Kuester, president of Kuester CRE. “When Golf Pride approached us three years ago, the agenda was to make an office building that wasn’t like all the others — something that wasn’t plain or vanilla. We believe we’ve succeeded in that task.”

Kuester Co. purchased the 10-acre site from Pinehurst Resort and Country Club and will lease the building to Golf Pride, initially for a 15-year term. Work was delayed somewhat by bad weather in the tail end of 2018, but the construction team caught up and is on schedule for completion by the end of the month.

Golf Pride anticipates a Feb. 4 move-in date, and opening its new rapid prototyping lab in April. The first company grip store will also open shortly thereafter.

While most of Eaton’s divisions are businesses that sell to other businesses, Golf Pride sells its grips directly to golfers. The new campus provides greater visibility and a high profile facility for its customers and partners.

Addressing the Pinehurst Planning Board when presenting plans, Ledford said then that the key benefit to being at Pinehurst No. 8 would be the ability to walk new products out the back door of Golf Pride’s new research and design space over to the driving range and solicit immediate feedback from potential customers.

Pat Corso, Moore County’s chief economic developer, said the company’s strategic approach of creating an innovation campus was dramatic and a catalyst.

“For many years there has been a lot of discussion about attracting golf-related companies to our area because it is our sweet spot,” he said. “Golf Pride is making a major commitment to
consolidate their research and development and corporate office in a substantial investment.”

Additional golf-industry growth — beyond the area’s courses — over the past three years includes the new Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) building, located across the street from the Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club; the addition of Tru Spec Golf custom fitting studio at
Pine Needles; and U.S. Kids Golf establishing Longleaf Golf & Family Club as a home base for its academy, foundation and development of a “living laboratory” for golf research and youth player development.

“If you look at the bits and pieces, they are all adding up. There is interest and a desire to do business here,” Corso said. “We don’t have the product to be home of substantive manufacturing. But we do have alignment with golf to attract these kinds of opportunities here
that are industry related and compatible with who we are.

“Now the secret sauce is how do you tie all of this together and present it properly?”

Last year, Partners in Progress secured grant funding to hire The Hayes Group to conduct a countywide strategic community development plan. One of the opportunities identified is to position Moore County as the “thought leader” on the future of golf, encouraging new
golf-related industry, and looking at ways to combine golf and the area’s strong health care programs and facilities.

Corso said the golf-cluster discussion group includes Kelly Miller of Pine Needles, Tom Pashley of Pinehurst, Inc., Chris Vonderkall of U.S. Kids Golf, and Ledford of Golf Pride.

“This is not a sprint to the finish, it is more of a marathon,” he said. “What we are looking for are specific companies that are compatible and complementary — niche opportunities — that fit us, fit who we are.

“The new Golf Pride building perfectly aligns with that,” Corso added, “and sets the stage for a potential new future in golf for our community.”

(Story by Laura Douglass reprinted from The Pilot 1/15/19. Photo courtesy of The Pilot.)