A (Non-Golfing) Trip to Pinehurst
I followed Leigh Ann to Pinehurst, North Carolina, last weekend, where she was attending a three-day conference and accumulating several of her required continuing education credits. For those of you, like myself, who have not succumb to the allure of the game of golf, Pinehurst is considered by many to be the pinnacle of golfing ecstasy. Its finest and most revered course, modestly and simply called Number Two, was laid out by Donald Ross, America’s first and foremost golf course architect.
I did recognize the Scotsman’s name, for Donald Ross (1872-1948) spent a great deal of time here in Asheville, where he designed one public golf course and three private courses, including one at the fabled Grove Park Inn, where we meet each February for the National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows. Most groups who schedule a conference at the Grove Park Inn avoid the winter months, as they seem to have more interest in the golf course than they do in the architecture and furnishings of the 1913 Arts and Crafts hotel.
I had never been to Pinehurst, but when I read that its first two hotels had been built in 1895 (pictured) and 1901, I thought that perhaps I might discover some Arts and Crafts influence tucked away in one of its cavernous hallways or in the eaves of one of its buildings.
Not the case.
But rest assured, I thoroughly enjoyed rocking on their wide, covered porches, soaking in the Southern tradition of tall swaying pine trees, outdoor ceiling fans, lush fernery, and an attentive staff, always ready to refill whatever glass I might be holding. Being accustomed to rising by five, I enjoyed my first cup of coffee each morning on one of the long, shaded porches, watching the stream of optimistic golfers pour out of the wide front doors and into the waiting vans ready to whisk them off to whichever of the eight courses they had booked for their outing.
I did discover, however, that Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture in America, has been credited with designing the grounds for the four hotels and the village of shops that now comprise Pinehurst. Olmsted, whom you may know as the designer of numerous famous parks, including Central Park in Manhattan, also had an Asheville connection, for between 1890-1895 he also designed the grounds of the 146,000-acre Biltmore Estate.
Since I had discovered in my research that Olmsted’s health had failed rapidly during the Biltmore commission, prompting John Singer Sargent to have Olmsted’s son stand in for his father’s famous portrait, I wondered how he had managed to spend the time necessary to also lay out sprawling Pinehurst.
As it turned out, it was Olmsted’s associates rather than Frederick Law Olmsted himself who truly designed the village of Pinehurst, but that detail has sometimes been omitted by public relations directors. It sounds much better to say it had been designed by Frederick Law Olmsted than by his associates.
But, I must confess, I’ve got an unsigned table that I would rather say was designed by Gustav Stickley . . . .
Until next Monday,
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Romeo Montague
Top: Photo courtesy of Richard Mandell, author of “The Legendary Evolution of Pinehurst.”
Middle: An early Pinehurst postcard showing Arts and Crafts furnishings, since replaced.