Addressing an audience of elected leaders and government officials from across the Sandhills, U.S. Golf Association CEO Mike Whan was the keynote speaker for a dinner event organized by Moore County Partners in Progress on February 7th on behalf of the N.C. Department of Transportation. It was held in the ballroom of the Carolina Hotel.
Whan’s visit came amid ongoing construction of the USGA’s nearby Golf House Pinehurst campus, which will serve as the organization’s second headquarters. The USGA will house a few operations there, in addition to offering a visitors center and space in which it will host the return of the World Golf Hall of Fame from Florida.
The USGA in 2020 pegged Pinehurst Resort and Country Club as its first “anchor” site for the U.S. Open, with five championships planned at the historic No. 2 course from 2024 to 2047. The resort will host both the men’s and women’s Opens in consecutive weeks in 2029, repeating a feat first achieved in 2014.
Whan gave an update on the $54 million Golf House project. He told the audience that while the facility may look “a little big and overpowering” in its current stage of construction, it will blend in with the overall visual aesthetic of the village once completed.
“We’ve spent more money on the facade and the grasses and the outdoor walking gardens than you can imagine to make sure we look like a 125-year-old neighbor and not a 12-year-old neighbor,” he said, adding that over 90 percent of the builders working on the project live in North Carolina.
One of the most anticipated features of Golf House is the World Golf Hall of Fame, which originated in Pinehurst. The hall first opened in 1974 and remained in the village until 1998, when lagging attendance and financial woes led the USGA to move the facility to Florida.
The hall is expected to reopen in Pinehurst next year with an induction ceremony that will coincide with the 124th U.S. Open, a tournament that is projected to bring over 300,000 visitors to the village.
“On behalf of the employees that will live here and the people that will pilgrimage here over the next 20 years, thanks for being the home of golf and thanks for letting us return to the home of golf after a little hiatus,” Whan said.
(Original article by Jaymie Baxley, The Pilot)