USGA bringing headquarters, tournaments to Pinehurst

The resort will host five U.S. Opens over the next 27 years

Kevin O’Connell, a former UNC golfer from Cary, putts during the first day of the U.S. Amateur on Monday at Pinehurst. (Brett Friedlander / North State Journal)

North Carolina will soon be a second home to the USGA.

The United States Golf Association and political officials from all levels of state and local government announced last week that the USGA will be locating its second headquarters in Pinehurst, the Moore County town that’s home to the historic golf course and resort. The announcement made official what sources close to the PGA told the North State Journal earlier in the week.

“This is one of the great days in USGA history,” Mike Davis, the USGA’s executive director and CEO, said during a streamed press conference Wednesday morning. “This is the start of something wonderful that’s going to happen for many, many decades to come.”

The USGA will build a state-of-the-art research and test center on the grounds at Pinehurst resort, as well as a second building housing a visitor’s center and satellite museum.

“It’s a great fit, for the USGA to be located in the home of American golf,” Davis said, calling the organization’s Pinehurst location “Golf House South.”

“The USGA has come home to Pinehurst,” Rep. Jamie Boles (R-Moore) said.

As part of the deal, North Carolina would be included in the regular rotation of USGA events, which include the U.S. Open.

“Pinehurst will be hosting five U.S. Opens from 2024 to 2047 and will become an anchor U.S. Open site,” Davis announced. In addition to the previously announced Open it will host in 2024, Pinehurst was awarded the tournament for 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.

Gov. Roy Cooper, who appeared via video, said that Pinehurst would also be in the rotation for “other high-profile tournaments” such as the Women’s Open. The governor welcomed the USGA and proclaimed that “golf is North Carolina’s game.”

“I’m excited that the USGA has chosen to expand its research and development here in our state,” the governor, who was unable to attend due to other commitments, said, “bringing 50 great jobs to Moore County and that Pinehurst will be in the rotation for the U.S. Open.”

Davis said that the arrangement is projected to bring more than a $2 billion economic impact to the area. “That’s not even noting the international and domestic exposure some of these big championships give,” he said.

Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland pointed out that the last U.S. Open played at Pinehurst produced an economic benefit of $140 million.

“COVID-19 has affected the hospitality industry more than any other,” Copeland said. “This could not be more timely.”

The deal is backed by $18 million in incentives over the next five years, voted on by the state earlier this month, as well as contributions from Moore County, the village of Pinehurst, the resort and private contributions. The land on which the buildings will be constructed was donated.

Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said that the USGA has been discussing a move to Pinehurst for more than a year, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it a challenge to find revenue to expedite it.

“We were able to find resources to make this happen because we know how important this is,” he said. “This is going to pay dividends for decades to come.”

The USGA will invest $5 million in the project, which will include new construction and up to 50 new jobs.

The USGA currently has a headquarters in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, just outside of Newark, about 40 miles from New York City.

Pinehurst was founded in 1895, the same year that the USGA was formed. The resort has hosted 10 major events dating back to 1936, when the PGA Championship was held there. It also hosted the 1951 Ryder Cup, the U.S. Amateur in 1962, 2008 and 2019, the Senior Open in 1994 and the Women’s Open in 2014.

The U.S. Open has been held at Pinehurst three times — 1999, 2005 and 2014.

The biggest names in golf history have competed in majors at Pinehurst, from Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen in 1935, to Sam Snead and Ben Hogan in 1951 to Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler at the various Opens.

This year’s U.S. Open begins on Thursday at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.

Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2022 and be completed in 2023.