The World Golf Hall of Fame is returning home.
After spending the past 24 years in St. Augustine, Florida, the U.S. Golf Association plans to relocate the shrine back to its original location in Pinehurst as part of its expanding Golf House campus.
The announcement, attended by Gov. Roy Cooper, high-ranking USGA officials and other dignitaries, was made at a ceremony last week at the Moore County resort.
“There’s no better connection to golf’s past, present and future than Pinehurst, and no organization that works harder than the USGA to preserve the history of this great game,” USGA CEO Mike Whan said in a statement. “We look forward to celebrating the greatest moments and golf’s greatest athletes by including the World Golf Hall of Fame as an important part of our new Pinehurst home. Simply put, it just makes sense.”
The original World Golf Hall of Fame opened its doors in 1974 and was operated by Pinehurst’s management company. It remained there until being taken over by the PGA of America, which moved it to its current location in Florida in 1998.
The decision to return to North Carolina coincides with the USGA taking over day-to-day operations of the Hall and the end of its long-term lease in St. Augustine late next year.
Ground was broken for the new six-acre site on Carolina Vista Drive last month. Plans call for the Hall of Fame’s grand opening in June 2024 to coincide with the U.S. Open at Pinehurst’s famed No. 2 course.
The shrine’s induction ceremony will also be held as part of the celebration.
While the Hall of Fame will be a celebration of golf’s past, the cooperation between Pinehurst and the USGA will continue well into the future thanks to the 150-year lease that was agreed upon for the property.
“Both the USGA and Pinehurst have an eye on the past, preserving and protecting the game of golf, and an eye on the future as the game of golf continues to improve and evolve,” Pinehurst CEO Bob Dedmon said at the time of the groundbreaking on June 6. “The USGA belongs in Pinehurst — the cradle, the home, the soul of American golf.”
The Hall of Fame will be located on the second floor of the new USGA Experience building. The first floor will contain interactive fan displays, including multimedia exhibits showcasing the organization’s work in advancing the sport, a museum featuring some of golf’s most precious artifacts and a gift shop.
Other features of the Golf House campus are a research and test center, an outdoor learning landscape designed to elevate awareness of the USGA’s work to make golf more sustainable and a restoration of an ancient longleaf pine forest to be operated in partnership with NC State.
According to a USGA release, the new facilities will employ at least 50 full-time staff and bring an estimated $2 billion in total economic impact to the state.
“There’s absolutely no argument that North Carolina is the home of golf and Pinehurst is our crown jewel,” Cooper said at last week’s ceremony. “Bringing the Golf Hall of Fame back to North Carolina means so much.
“Golf brings communities together, increases tourism and creates good jobs, and I’m excited to continue working with the USGA to grow the game and our economy here in North Carolina.”
Among the artifacts to be moved from St. Augustine to the new Hall of Fame locker room in Pinehurst are: course designing legend Donald Ross’ compass, slide rule and bifocals; a Spalding 2-wood used by Bobby Jones; Jack Nicklaus’ golf bag from the 1965 Masters; Championship trophies from the 1922 PGA and 1935 Masters from Gene Sarazen, the first player to complete the professional Grand Slam; Johnny Miller’s clubs, ball and champion’s gold medal from the 1973 U.S. Open, where he earned the victory by shooting a record final-round 63; and the shirt worn by Annika Sorenstam in the first round of the 2003 Colonial when she became the first woman since 1945 to play in a PGA Tour event.
“For nearly 50 years, the Hall of Fame has honored the history and legacies of those who have made golf great,” World Golf Hall of Fame CEO Greg McLaughlin said. “Much like the USGA, the Hall of Fame is committed to connecting with fans around the world to highlight the greatest moments and legends of the sport.”