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USGA Picks Pinehurst for 2nd HQ

More Championships Coming to Moore, Rest of NC

  • Updated
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USGA Picks Pinehurst for 2nd HQ

The United States Golf Association will build a second headquarters in Pinehurst under a multi-million incentive package approved by state and local leaders.

A new economic development project, dubbed “Project Woodpecker,” rolled out Tuesday during a public hearing before the Moore County Board of Commissioners. The Pinehurst Village Council reviewed a similar presentation a short time later.

It’s no secret that Pinehurst Resort and the USGA have a special relationship. In the last 30 years, Pinehurst and its masterpiece No. 2 course have played host to more championship events than any other site in the nation.

County leaders unanimously approved a 10-year incentive grant for the project primarily in the form of tax breaks calculated as 90 percent of the total property taxes paid above and beyond the current property tax value — provided the USGA meets job creation and capital investment goals. Funding would be paid from new tax revenues collected as a result of the organization’s investment.

“The opportunity to bring the USGA to Moore County is a historic opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity, a transformative opportunity,” said County Manager Wayne Vest. “It is about bringing facilities, jobs, careers, events, visitors, global recognition and economic activity all to Moore County.”

Commissioner Catherine Graham said the project will benefit all of Moore County by helping to keep property taxes low and increasing sales tax revenues.

“There is a new generation coming who will reap many rewards for the decision we are making (today),” she said.

Commissioner Louis Gregory agreed, “We are talking about economic development which will provide job opportunities now and in the future far beyond anyone in this room.”

Details of the Deal

Last week, state lawmakers approved House Bill 807, or the “Championship NC Act,” to provide up to $18 million in performance-based state incentives to recruit a then-unnamed “sports championship employer.” That funding will come through the state’s Site Infrastructure Development Fund and includes a transfer of $3.5 million from the One North Carolina Fund and $100,000 from the Job Development Investment Grant fund. It is also the intent of the General Assembly to appropriate an additional $14.4 million over four consecutive fiscal years, in equal installments.

In return, USGA is projected to generate at least $800 million in economic benefits to the state over the next 10 years; employ at least 35 new staff positions, and 50 positions overall, with an average annual salary of $80,000.

Andy Ogletree

Andy Ogletree, a student at Georgia Tech and native of Little Rock, Mississippi won the 36-hole final round of the USGA’s 119th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.

“Their desire to construct a permanent home here also comes with a commitment to honor the traditions and respect for the game found here, and to preserve the historic nature of this community,” said Pat Corso, executive director of Partners in Progress (PIP), the county’s economic development arm.

Corso was president and chief operating officer at Pinehurst Resort when the first U.S. Open was held at No. 2 in 1999.

He noted USGA has committed to work directly with PIP to help recruitment of additional golf-related companies, including headquarters, research and development, manufacturers and associations.

“To have the USGA in Moore County puts our community in an enviable position as we look toward the future,” Corso said. “There cannot be a better suited project for our area.”

The deal also commits USGA to sponsoring periodic championship events in Moore County and other golf courses around the state. These events must include at least one men’s major championship every five to seven years having an economic benefit of $90 million, one women’s major championship every 10 years, and at least 13 additional championship events. Altogether, these periodic events are projected to bring $500 million in aggregate economic benefits to the state over the 10-year agreement.

A New Headquarters

Headquartered in Liberty Corner, N.J., USGA operates with a staff of 300 and has 700,000 members. The organization sponsors more than a dozen championship events annually, and governs the rules and equipment standards for the game of golf.

Plans call for the USGA to shift its research and testing center for golf equipment from its primary headquarters. In addition, a combined museum and visitor center will be housed in the new facilities in Pinehurst, along with offices for the USGA’s Foundation and the organization’s turfgrass agronomy and management section.

“This really is a dream come true for our area,” said Tom Pashley, president of Pinehurst Resort. “It makes me think of St. Andrews. There is no other place like that except now for Pinehurst, to have a governing body in our backyard and a championship schedule similar to what happens there.

“The benefits are clear, significant, and far-reaching.”

USGA has committed to invest $5 million in private funds by Dec. 31, 2023, to construct at least two buildings totaling 30,000 square feet. Those buildings are to be designed in a style consistent with the surrounding Pinehurst Resort campus.

Tom Beddow, Convention & Visitors Bureau board chairman and president of the Country Club of North Carolina (CCNC), said USGA’s investment solidifies Pinehurst’s reputation as the Home of American Golf.

An Opportunity Earned

Thousands of fans lined the legendary Pinehurst No. 2 course to watch Payne Stewart — himself once a regular visitor to Pinehurst — sink a 15-foot par dramatic putt on the 18th green to win the 1999 U.S. Open championship. This “moment in time” for Stewart also marked a turning point for Pinehurst.

The USGA brought its premier men’s championship back to Pinehurst in 2005, and again, in 2014, when the U.S. Open and Women’s Open were conducted in historic back-to-back weeks.

Payne Stewart strikes his iconic victory pose

Payne Stewart strikes his iconic victory pose after winning the 1999 U.S. Open Championship. The event returned in 2005 and 2014, and will come again in 2024. (Photograph courtesy Tufts Archives)

Those events generated more than $140 million in visitor spending with a statewide economic impact that topped $238 million, according to a study conducted by N.C. State University, USGA and the area's Convention and Visitors Bureau. Overall, 26 counties benefited from spending on lodging, food, beverage, shopping, retail, construction, transportation and recreation activities.

The upcoming 2024 U.S. Open will make the fourth U.S. Open and 11th USGA championship at the historic venue. The championship will also fall on the 25th anniversary of Payne Stewart’s iconic win.

“The journey to get here began in 1999, when we first had the opportunity to host a U.S. Open championship,” said Pashley. “The job we did, the job the village did, the county did and the state did put us in the position we are in today. We’ve earned this opportunity with each and every interaction with the USGA.”

Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, located in the neighboring community of Southern Pines, has its own special relationship with the USGA.

Last year, Pine Needles hosted the USGA’s second ever U.S. Senior Women’s Open and it has been selected to host the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open, making it the first golf resort to be awarded four U.S. Women’s Open championships.

Helen Alfredsson after winning the second U.S. Senior Women's Open on May 19, 2019

Helen Alfredsson after winning the second U.S. Senior Women's Open on May 19, 2019. (Photograph by David Sinclair/The Pilot)

Kelly Miller, president of Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, said the new USGA facilities and job creation was important, but he also looked to the commitment schedule of championships for the coming years as a remarkable showcase for both the county and state.

“With the USGA, we know them, we know the people. They share our values, they share our vision for what is going to happen here,” Miller said. “We should welcome the USGA with open arms and thank them for choosing Moore County and the great State of North Carolina.”

Teeing Up Moore

Pinehurst and the greater Southern Pines-Aberdeen area has become increasingly attractive for golf industry investments in recent years.

Pinehurst Resort kicked off 2010 with its much-acclaimed restoration of No. 2, regarded as one of Donald Ross’s finest designs. That was followed up by the reimagining of No. 4 by Gil Hanse, and development of the popular short course, The Cradle.

Golf Pride, a subsidiary of Eaton Corp. and one of the nation’s most successful golfing-related brands, completed its new 36,000-square-foot headquarters near the entrance of Pinehurst No. 8 in 2019. The facility houses the company’s corporate offices, a consumer interactive wing, and a rapid prototype laboratory under one roof.

“I can’t think of a better opportunity for this community,” said Jamie Ledford, president of Golf Pride. “I could see this being something of a tipping point.”

He said USGA’s move could spur an even greater golf development cluster, potentially creating “an East Coast” version of the community that built up around Callaway Golf in Carlsbad, Calif.

“All you need to do is recruit just a handful of companies and with that come really attractive jobs for the community. There are a lot of jobs tied up in this opportunity, specifically, but you also need to think about downstream development.”

State Sen. Tom McInnis, who represents Anson, Moore, Richmond and Scotland counties, said the potential for economic growth over the next several years had brought everyone to the table.

“We are so fortunate beyond measure because of this opportunity,” he said.

Other recent golf investments in Moore County include the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation’s purchase of Longleaf Golf & Family Club in Southern Pines, in 2015. The club has since been transformed into a living laboratory for the development of the game of golf.

U.S Kids Golf also announced last week it was moving its U.S. Kids Foundation to new offices in Pinehurst.

In May 2018, the Veteran Golfers Association opened its national headquarters in Pinehurst. Annually, the VGA hosts more than 250 local tournaments for thousands of VGA members across the country, culminating in a VGA National Championship.

The Carolinas Golf Association also relocated its headquarters from West End to a new facility across the street from Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines in 2015.

Three years later, the CGA unveiled the Xan Law, Jr. Hall of History at its Carolinas Golf House. The hall features an interesting collection of clubs, scorecards, pictures, and trophies honoring the people who have made the Carolinas one of the most historic golf areas in the country.

In an effort to capitalize on this golf industry momentum, Partners in Progress and business leaders from Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen teed up an aggressive video pitch earlier this year to attract golf companies to consider relocating to the area.

Launched at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL, the video featured local golf industry business leaders Dan Van Horn of U.S. Kids Golf, Tom Pashley of Pinehurst Resort, Jamie Ledford of Golf Pride, Kelly Miller of Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, and Pat Corso of Partners in Progress.

(12) comments

Barbara Misiaszek

In the adjoining article naming Pinehurst an anchor tournament site for the U.S.Open Championship it's mentioned that Governor Cooper discussed moving this idea forward with USGA officials during the 2019 U.S. Am. From there discussions picked up quickly. Yes,kudos to local officials but let's not forget, or minimize, Governor Cooper's effort in helping to make this opportunity a reality.

John Misiaszek

Robert Martin

"A combined museum and visitor center will be housed in the new facilities in Pinehurst"

I hope this means the USGA and the Village of Pinehurst have come to terms with the Tufts Archives. Move the Archives to the new USGA museum space and let the USGA take over the management and preservation of all the information.

The Givens Library could then stay in the same building with room to expand into the old Tufts space. It’s a win, win for the town and especially the towns people and others who frequent the library -arguably the best library in Moore County.

Kent Misegades

“Funding would be paid from new tax revenues collected as a result of the organization’s investment.” This sure sounds like a TIF - Tax Increment Financing, a form of Ponzi scheme first used years ago to fund the infamous Randy Parton Theater of Roanoke Rapids. While this news is good for golfers in our area (I’m not one) I have my doubts that it will contribute much in terms of real value creation. If for instance Eaton would return its Golf Pride grip manufacturing from China to Moore County and employ only legal residents of our County, that would add to the long-term stability of our economy. Providing tax Incentives, aka Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, to get a golf organization to move from high tax state NJ to move to low tax state NC is a double absurdity and grossly unfair to all the local businesses that started in our county and have struggled to survive over the years. Why are they less important? Why not give them the same tax breaks as a reward for their investments? Corporate welfare is just welfare, which only makes recipients lazy and dependent and steals from others. More important is indigenous business - grown from within, not bribed to the County from elsewhere, especially not from parts of the country with high taxes and liberal voters.

Rebecca Francis

Oh please...this is a great opportunity for this community and welcomed.

John H Hamblen

This may be the best investment Moore County and the State of NC could ever make. It a natural development of the strenth of the History of Pinehurst and the golf community already established.

Jack Farrell

Keep in mind that the USGA is a registered 501(c)(3) charity and as such will pay no property taxes on any property they build or own in Moore County. Same as First Health which pays no County or Pinehurst Taxes.

Jack Nance

Yes, but the people they employ and the events they bring will generate lots of mych needed tax dollars. It's a give and take deal. Plus this move wil possibly make our area the Carlsbad of the east.

Barbara Misiaszek

The Cooperstown of golf.

John Misiaszek

Dan Roman

Kent Misgades would obviously much rather Moore County industry consist of steel smelters, open pit mines, oil refineries, petrochemical plants, gas fracking, lead battery manufacturing and recycling, and maybe a few tanneries.

Jack Farrell

Correction. I have been told by a usually reliable source that unlike many 501(c)(3) s the USGA was informed bythe State and Local Tax office they will not be exempt. Stand Corrected.

Robert Tyska

But they are getting huge tax incentives that will mostly eliminate them paying property taxes for the next 10 years.

Barbara Misiaszek

They'll be here for 100 years.

John Misiaszek

Welcome to the discussion.

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