Settled by Highland Scotsmen in the early 1700s, the Pinehurst/Southern Pines area was blessed with a year-round moderate climate and the ideal sandy soil for the game of golf. It was only natural that the locals would want to develop a proper course for their ancient game. The perfect architect arrived in the form of Donald Ross.
Donald Ross came to America from Dornoch, Scotland in 1899 and was hired almost immediately as club professional and greenskeeper at the Oakley Country Club in Watertown, Massachusetts. A year later, Ross came to North Carolina to serve as the first Director of Golf at Pinehurst Resort. In addition to club making, agronomy, teaching, playing, tournament presentation and administration, Ross was a prolific golf course architect who modified an existing course and began work on the first 9 holes of Pinehurst No. 2 before he began to design the course now found at Southern Pines Golf Club. His natural talent inspired him to design more than 400 courses in his lifetime and made him the revered patriarch of American golf. That course record lasted for decades.
From the moment it was conceived, Southern Pines Golf Club has attracted the best in the game. The twenties saw popular exhibition matches at Southern Pines Golf Club. Greats like Walter Hagan, who won the British Open four times, the U.S. Open twice and the PGA Championship five times, British Open Champ Arthur Havers and former Walker Cup Captain Emmet French played to the delight of thousands of spectators.
The 1936 PGA Championship was the first professional tournament contested on the course. And it was during this period that Angus Maples transitioned the course’s sand greens to grass. In the late nineteen-forties, Sam Snead set a course record score of 63 when he bested Ben Hogan at the Southern Pines Open.