The design of Golf House Pinehurst honors the rich tapestry of the village’s late 19th century and early 20th-century building styles. That is the goal, at least, as the United States Golf Association readies its preliminary architectural plans for review.
“What has been interesting for us to learn is there is no single historical architectural style in the village. There are lots of different choices of expression to choose from,” said Rand Jerris, who is overseeing the project as USGA’s senior management director of public services. “There were meaningful choices made by architects and we wanted to understand and explore those meanings.”
Last fall the USGA announced it would develop what it calls Golf House Pinehurst in an effort to expand its impact in golf and extend its mission to champion and advance the game. Pinehurst Country Club will also serve as USGA’s first “anchor” site for the U.S. Open, with championships scheduled in 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.
Raleigh-based architectural firm Clearscapes was selected to design the $25 million project based on its keen understanding of USGA and Pinehurst Resort’s separate histories and evolution as the two organizations work on their shared future vision.
Plans call for two buildings at the corner of Cherokee Road and Carolina Vista Drive, within view of the Pinehurst Country Club. Both structures pay homage to the 1903 historic clubhouse with its white exteriors, clay-colored roofs and deep porches.
“The architecture and scale of Pinehurst is so intimate and we wanted to respect that and not overpower visitors. The details, like the porches that are so prominent in Pinehurst, shielded the sun and were important social gathering spaces,” Jerris said. “Adding porches with rocking chairs not only looks nice, it was very intentional (in the design).”
The two-story USGA Welcome Center and museum is proposed with similar dimensions as the historic Pinehurst Department Store. Luci Creative, a Chicago-based museum consulting firm, is assisting with content and design of the exhibit spaces.
“We want to share our mission and vision in different ways that are authentic to the Pinehurst community. This project gives us an opportunity to let people think differently about USGA because we want people to know we are so much more than championships. The visitor center will bring that to life and that is exciting,” said Janeen Driscoll, USGA’s public relations director.
One permanent and two rotating exhibits are planned. One gallery will focus exclusively on the U.S. Open, not so much the history of this event but more of a “behind-the-scenes” view of what it takes to conduct this signature championship, from working with a host site and community to marshaling an army of volunteers. A second gallery will focus on the science of the game, from the physics of golf equipment design to agronomics on a course’s greens, with the third gallery dedicated to late 19th century and early 20th century golf art.
“For the local community, there will frequently be something new to see. You can come back every six to 12 months you’ll see new stories, new artifacts,” Jerris said, in addition to a second-story space set aside for public programs to enrich and engage the community and visitors alike.
The adjoining, slightly larger two-story state-of-the-art golf equipment testing facility will also house USGA’s Foundation, championships team and turfgrass agronomy and management section offices.
The grounds surrounding the two buildings include a pollinator garden and replanted areas to restore the historic pine grove.
“We are respecting that feature. It is a wonderful way to highlight the importance of sustainability in USGA’s work,” said Jerris, noting the main structural footprints were intentionally positioned over the existing tennis courts. “Restoring trees and the original pine grove savannah includes the understory. Part of our vision is not just to plant that high treetop canopy but also reintroduce vegetation that would be appropriate.”
The initial site plan and architectural renderings for Golf House Pinehurst have been reviewed by the village’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). The Planning and Zoning Board is scheduled to review the application in June, followed by a review before the Village Council in July.
Jerris said the HPC issued a Certificate of Appropriateness by unanimous decision, which he attributed to Clearscape’s attention to detail.
“They did a really wonderful job of understanding the historical traditions and precedents around the village. We also have weekly design meetings with Pinehurst Resort to talk about the aesthetic choices and what they represent.”
Construction is scheduled to begin in late spring 2022, with a 12-15 month buildout. “That has us right on schedule to open the building in December 2023 which matches our commitment to the state,” Jerris said.
To help advance USGA’s work in research and golf course support, two key staff members with the organization’s green section will be relocating to the Pinehurst area next summer. Jerris said he anticipates seeing more of that movement, “as it makes sense from a business and strategic perspective.”
“There is such excitement in the organization for what this opportunity can be that people are anxious to get to work. We want to mobilize and bring that vision to life.”