Club Info > History  
 
 



For Information on the membership process click here MEMBERSHIP




History

The Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst lies nestled in the Sandhills, formed when the sea had finished with this land millions of years ago and had left the wind to sift the sand for untold millennia. It is now a unique world of gleaming sand, gently rolling hills and clear water. Five hundred feet above sea level; it has a temperate climate, being protected by the Appalachians on one side and the Atlantic on the other. The Club lies on some 2000 acres of land which include three lakes (the largest, Lake Watson, is sixty acres) and two eighteen-hole golf courses of world-class caliber. The lordly longleaf pines dominate its deciduous sisters on the landscape. These trees-over, 100 feet high, harbor the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker. These birds refuse to nest in any other tree and experts speculated that this colony's ancestry dates to the maturity of these trees some 250 years ago.

Two miles away, the village of Pinehurst was laid out by James W. Tufts in 1895. Tufts, a highly successful Boston businessman had retired, was in frail health and thought the salubrious climate of the Sandhills would benefit him and others wishing to escape New England winters. He bought 5000 acres of land for $1.00 an acre; a member of the selling Page family (Walter Hines Page was Ambassador to the Court of St. James during World War II commented that, "...as much as I dislike Yankees it is inexcusable to have gouged them this way."

Tufts constructed a nine hole golf course in 1898. Then, in 1900 he hired Donald Ross, a native Dornoch, Scotland, who had just completed his apprenticeship at St. Andrews, to come to Pinehurst. Bringing young Ross to America would profoundly affect American golf. Ross designed over 600 golf courses across the country (eight in the Sandhills including Number 2 at Pinehurst-Home of the 1999 U.S. Open and the 2005 U.S. Open). Ross died in Pinehurst in 1948.

Pinehurst attracted a visitor from Pennsylvania in 1910. John Watson was a man of many talents and the modern history of the Country Club of North Carolina begins with him. He was an engineer and a highly successful one-he invented the shock absorber. Watson pursued two intertwined avocations: Golf and nature study. He came to Pinehurst to play golf and look for raw land. Not just any raw land, but land which had a watershed on it and the potential for making a golf course. He found three watersheds in the Country (the Village of Whispering Pines would be built on one forty years later) but gave his heart and effort to the present site of The Country Club of North Carolina.

Watson planned to build a hotel precisely where the Clubhouse now stands and to lay out a golf course. He proceeded to dam three streams in the 1920's and created the sixty acres "Watson's Lake." A full generation of local people enjoyed picnics and outings on this lake. Next he built a boathouse and house for himself on the lake. John Watson loved trees with an eccentric passion. He recognized that some trees had to be removed in order to build his lake but he begrudged everyone - to our great fortune. When the local fire department called on him to plead for the cutting of a fire lane to his house, Watson's answer was simple: "No, I'll manage." Watson's 900 acres - known as "Sunny Sands" - were wild and heavily forested. So wild, legend has it that Mrs. Watson refused to stay overnight on the property but retired to the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst every evening.

Watson's dream never came to fruition as he died in 1961. His will directed that the property be sold and early in 1962 it came to the attention of Richard A. Urquhart, Jr. of Raleigh, NC. Urquhart, a senior partner in a national accounting firm, and his friends had been looking for land, which might be developed into a particular kind of Club about which they had distinct ideas. The land had the essential factors they were looking for. The terrain was eminently suitable. The location was excellent for the state wide club they hoped to establish - Pinehurst - and it was cheek by jowl with the established resort of Pinehurst.

An investor group was formed, consisting of four-six individuals from every major North Carolina city. This group, working closely with the noted land planner William Byrd, of Atlanta, agreed on a master plan. This plan entailed acquisition of land from 13 different owners. Difficult problems ensued but were resolved and an initial 1200 acres were acquired.

The original master plan limited the membership to 500 members and, in order to make it truly statewide, restricted the number of members from each locality. The Club rapidly acquired members from all over North Carolina and today has members from all over the United States and has many members from all over the globe.

The dream that John Watson started has expanded and culminated into one of the most prestigious Clubs in the South, with two championship golf courses, a tennis club with 8 har-tru courts, a swimming pool, several dining facilities, a Youth program, a Summer Program, Rental Home Program and nature trails. The initial cabin has grown into 385+ beautiful homes without spoiling the privacy and peacefulness of the Club, and of course we still offer the graciousness of Southern Hospitality.

Yes, the Club is an enchanting place. A visitor summed it up. Tired after a hard day of playing golf, he sat on the Clubhouse terrace watching the 4th of July annual fireworks over moonlit Watson's Lake; "If heaven's any better than this, I don't think I can stand it."

For Information on the membership process click here MEMBERSHIP