by Ashley Podoll, AJGA Communications
A Fourth of July Tournament: The Golf Pride Junior Classic is celebrating its eighth year in Southern Pines, N.C. For the first time, Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club hosted the 96-player tournament with juniors from 22 states and five different countries. Playing on a Donald Ross course: Leonard Tufts developed Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club in 1921 to accommodate for the overflow from his family's Pinehurst complex, the Carolina Hotel and Pinehurst Country Club. The 250-acre Donald Ross course is nearly in the same condition as it was when the inn opened its doors. The greens are small and surrounded by bunkers. Fairways are paralleled with rows of pine trees and beds of pine, all played as "through the green." Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club has been home to three U.S. Women’s Opens in 1996, 2001 and 2007.
A Legendary Owner: Peggy Kirk Bell of Findlay, Ohio, a renowned golfer and a founding member of LPGA, bought Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club with her husband in 1953. The golf club has remained a family-owned establishment along with Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Mid Pine’s sister property, right across the street. One of Bell’s highest accolades was the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the USGA, in 1990; this award recognizes distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Bell is now 90 years old and continues to remain a large part of the spirit and energy around the course. Bell and her family work to keep the love of the game as the driving force behind the atmosphere and experience at one of the country’s leading teaching clubs.
Remarkeable Recovery: When World War II began, Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club was taken over by the Army and Air Force to house Military Police. Furniture was put into storage, walls were painted over from a decorative plaster and gold trimming to an army tan, and holes were punched through walls from room to room for communication wires. The golf course was no longer cared for becoming overgrown with hay and wild grapes. Immediately after the war, the Cosgrove family went about restoring the place to its former glory. The wild golf course grass was cut down bit by bit to preserve the tender grass below. It took nearly a decade to restore the course to its glory and charm. Today, it is a popular course for both locals and vacationers. Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club offers many golf packages, providing a chance to play the manicured course.